Check out our latest interviews!
Scott Esposito: Jamestown's world is very violent, so violent in fact that it often feels cartoonish. Maybe its best summed up by the observations of one of your main characters, bus-rider and slacker skeptic Johnny Rolfe, who says "Some great, quaint pre-annihilation philosopher described the movement of history as thesis, antithesis, synthesis, whereas I've seen a lot more thesis, antithesis, steak knife, bread knife." Why are things so violent?
Matthew Sharpe: Because they were and are. The Jamestown settlement was a fertile ground for the flowering of man’s inhumanity to man: English against Indians, Indians against English, English against English, Indians against Indians. But especially English against Indians. The settlers decimated the locals, commandeered their land, kidnapped, tortured, and killed them. The English thought their God was better than the Indians’, thought their skin and clothes and civilization were better. And England’s foreign policy in the early 17th century bears a striking resemblance to ours now: extract the foreigners’ resources, save them with our superior values, kill them with our superior weapons, and do it all with breathtaking incompetence.
click here to read Scott Esposito's interview with Matthew Sharpe, author of Jamestown.
Mary Phillips Sandy: I read an interview in which you said that this book started when Joseph came to you and told you to write about him – is that typical for you, that books start with a character demanding attention?
Alison McGhee: No, this was the only time that’s ever happened to me. I blame myself, really, because I was being melodramatic. I’d been a couple of months without a real focus in my work, and that’s a kind of hell for me. I pretended I was Job. I spread my arms to the universe and said, “Give me something to write about!” Then this boy just leaped into my mind. He was sitting in the wheelchair and he looked up at me, his hands were on the wheels. He said – he swore at me, but I won’t say that for the interview. He said, “What, you can’t write about me?”
And I really didn’t want to. I’m not a boy; I’m not a teenage boy. I don’t know what it’s like to get through life using a wheelchair. I felt intimidated by the whole idea of it, but he truly would not leave me alone. I wound up putting years into the work and figuring out what he wanted.
click here to read Mary Phillips Sandy's interview with Alison McGhee, author of Falling Boy.