Ann Patchett

in conversation with Elaine Petrocelli

Recorded July 12th, 2020

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Ann Patchett in conversation with Elaine Petrocelli

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Ann Patchett‘s The Dutch House explores the bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. It’s a story of a paradise lost–one that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.

Ann is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, RunState of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction–Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, What Now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays examining the theme of commitment. In 2019, she published her first children’s book, Lambslide, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes.  She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores on NPR, The Colbert Report (including the series finale), Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, The Martha Stewart Show, and The CBS Early Show, among many others. Along with James Patterson, she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Ann lives in Nashville with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky. Click here to subscribe to her blog, Notes from Ann, featuring book recommendations, exclusive commentary, articles, and more.

It makes you wonder.

All the brilliant things we might have done with our lives if only we suspected we knew how.”

– Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett‘s The Dutch House explores the bond between two siblings, the house of their childhood, and a past that will not let them go. It’s a story of a paradise lost–one that digs deeply into questions of inheritance, love and forgiveness, of how we want to see ourselves and of who we really are.

Ann is the author of seven novels, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, RunState of Wonder, and Commonwealth. She was the editor of Best American Short Stories, 2006, and has written three books of nonfiction–Truth & Beauty, about her friendship with the writer Lucy Grealy, What Now? an expansion of her graduation address at Sarah Lawrence College, and This is the Story of a Happy Marriage, a collection of essays examining the theme of commitment. In 2019, she published her first children’s book, Lambslide, illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser.

A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Patchett has been the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships, including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, The Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books have been both New York Times Notable Books and New York Times bestsellers. Her work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

In November, 2011, she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee, with her business partner Karen Hayes.  She has since become a spokesperson for independent booksellers, championing books and bookstores on NPR, The Colbert Report (including the series finale), Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, The Martha Stewart Show, and The CBS Early Show, among many others. Along with James Patterson, she was the honorary chair of World Book Night. In 2012 she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World.

Ann lives in Nashville with her husband, Karl VanDevender, and their dog, Sparky. Click here to subscribe to her blog, Notes from Ann, featuring book recommendations, exclusive commentary, articles, and more.

Visit the Book Passage website to have any of Ann Patchett’s books delivered right to your door.

You’re sure to enjoy these Book Passage favorites:

The Dutch House

TheDutchHouse

Commonwealth

Commonwealth

State of Wonder

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Get ready to join Ann in conversation, Sunday, July 12th.

In the meantime, we invite you to take a moment now to help shape this upcoming conversation.

Check out the list of questions submitted by other registered attendees, and then vote to support any that match your interests.

Feel free to add your own question. Then spread the word to make sure others have the chance to help move your question to the top of the shared list.

  • 15

    votes

    How did you get Tom Hanks to read your novel on
    Audio Books?

  • 13

    votes

    In your most recent novel, The Dutch House, the story is told in first-person from the main character’s point of view. Can you tell us more about the decision to write the novel in first-person and why that was important to telling this story?

  • 13

    votes

    Who are some of your favorite authors, whether fiction or non-fiction, and have they influenced your writing?

  • 11

    votes

    What is the last great book you read?

  • 10

    votes

    How has the pandemic affected your writing? Are you writing more? less?

  • 9

    votes

    Bel Canto is one of my favorite books of all time! It struck me how you were inspired by the political (Lima Crisis) and the personal (Opera) in writing the novel. How do you feel politics manifest in your writing, specifically in The Dutch House? Do you consider your writing political?

  • 8

    votes

    How have you changed your writing process over time? Is there one major factor or method that informs your writing process, and how has this changed (if at all) as you have changed in your own life?

  • 7

    votes

    Do you feel as though your books exist in conversation with each other or do you view them all as separate entities?

  • 6

    votes

    Not a question. Just – I love you.

  • 6

    votes

    Is there one of your books that you return to when creating new work because it taught you an important lesson about some aspect of skill, (e.g. plot structure, language)? Please share that touchstone lesson and how it appears in that book and your other writing.

  • 6

    votes

    I have read every book you’ve written! Why in The Dutch House did you decide to write from the male perspective? How was this different from writing from your own perspective or that of another woman?

  • 5

    votes

    Sorry to be rude but could we talk about Ann’s books?

  • 5

    votes

    Both running a bookstore and being a novelist seem like full-time jobs, how do you divide your attention and manage to do both?

  • 4

    votes

    Will you write more memoir in the future?

  • 4

    votes

    How do you approach doing research for your novels? What kinds of sources do you consult? Which of your books have posed the greatest research challenges, and how did you manage these challenges? What advice do you have about organizing and using research in fiction?

  • 3

    votes

    Please talk about her books not shipping books

  • 3

    votes

    State of Wonder ranks as my Number One Favorite! What prompted your plot development? Your sensitivity shines in Truth and Beauty~
    Would you consider another memoir?
    THANK YOU for YOUR EFFORTS TOWARD EMPOWERING
    WRITING AND READING!

  • 3

    votes

    What are you working on now and how soon before we can buy it? Love you!

  • 3

    votes

    What is your writing habit like? Every day at a certain time? When the mood strikes?

  • 3

    votes

    What inspired you to write “Lambslide”, your first children’s book?

  • 2

    votes

    Why did you set the book in these Philadelphia suburbs? I grew up in Jenkintown/Rydal. It was a hoot knowing all of the landmarks you spoke of.

  • 2

    votes

    I’m sorry ..we didn’t tune in to hear Elaine talk….LET ANN TALK ABOUT HER WRITING

  • 2

    votes

    Without spoiling the book for anyone, Dutch House includes a major stunning twist at the end. Did you plan on that from the beginning or did it come to you at some point during the writing of the novel?

  • 2

    votes

    Can we have an author talk, please?

  • 1

    votes

    This is so disappointing….

  • 1

    votes

    Please talk about her writing and not about employees and shipping…..and let Ann TALK please

  • 1

    votes

    OH MY GOD please let Ann talk….you are hogging the time talking about books YOU like.

  • 1

    votes

    State of Wonder is the favorite from your books. The first two pages have stayed with me forever. What image set you off to write this book? What was your research? Did you go to the Amazon? Thank you!!!

  • 1

    votes

    This is a terrible waste of time. There is not one question about writing. This like listening to a private conversation about two booksellers. The point has been lost. Wake up!

  • 1

    votes

    Look. I’m watching to hear Ann talk about her writing. Her books. This conversation about what Book Passages is doing, which we hear every week is getting tedious. Start asking Ann questions. Please.

  • 1

    votes

    I would love to hear about your writing process for developing your novels, particularly how you develop characters.

  • 1

    votes

    WHY are you not asking Ann about her writing???? Please have other people do the interviewing

  • 1

    votes

    Elaine…we are not here to hear you…Please lead the conversation to your guest….The only reason I am still here is bec i hope Ann gets to talk.

  • 0

    votes

    CONFUSION! Where’s ANN”s discussion of her books. SAD…

  • 0

    votes

    Did writing from the brother’s point of view, affect your description/view of the sister. It seems she was less developed than some other characters and there were hints that she was more than her brother’s view.

  • 0

    votes

    Our book group is (re) reading “Run”. Its themes of race, privilege and class are particularily relevant today. Do you find yourself rereading any of your previous work and seeing some elements brought into sharper view by personal or world events?

  • 0

    votes

    I was looking forward to hearing Ann talk about her books, especially Dutch House, and her writing process and was so disappointed to hear instead a conversation between booksellers that should have been held in a private conversation. It was as if you forgot you had an audience. There were plenty of questions for Ann that never got addressed. In the future please stick to discussing the author’s books and writing experience.

  • 0

    votes

    It’s 4.01 and I don’t seem to have audio. I see Elaine speaking, but cannot hear her. I -just- listened to an archived conversation, so I know my audio works. Thanks!

  • 0

    votes

    NEVERMIND! Got it.

  • 0

    votes

    About your process, you’ve talked about how you come up with your stories but could you get specific about how you decide on the p.o.v.? How do you start such a great third person wide view as in Bel Canto, and then zero in on each character’s perspective?

  • 0

    votes

    Just tell her I love, love, love Bel Canto! ❤️ ..& to keep writing, please.

  • 0

    votes

    Ann, Can you teach a class, too?

  • 0

    votes

    what is Ann’s instagram “name” so that we can log on to her account and follow her?

  • 0

    votes

    Why are ypu talking shop rather than talking abut Ann’s writing?

  • 0

    votes

    The mother intrigued me. Do you think she was selfish or really loved her kids?

  • 0

    votes

    I think you are brilliant. I have read all of your books!!!

  • 0

    votes

    State of Wonder is such a wildly inventive read…..care to share some of the sources of inspiration?

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