NSML April 2013 : Page 62

I visited and loved the romantic villages of Cinque Terre, Italy, in 1997, some of which you could only arrive at by boat or train. When I was there, I imagined a woman disembarking from a boat and the novel took shape from there. I then discovered It’s incredibly f lattering to have an entire community read your book and it’s always great to relate to readers in that way. ere’s no other art that is as immersive and personal as a novel. Tell us a bit about your new book of short stories, We Live in Water . Aimee Agresti I wrote it over the same period of years as Beautiful Ruins . ese stories take place in the Northwest, and the characters are all at moments in their lives when they might make the first glance toward redemption. What’s on your career bucket list? Jess Walter I’ve exceeded every ambition I’ve had. I was fortunate to have my midlife crisis at the age of 12 when I understood the thing I loved to do most. I get to write for a living, which is an incredible gift. “I like taking readers to places they might not have seen,” says Agresti. “I resurrected Al Capone’s hangout, the Lexington Hotel, and also tried to capture the magic of the places I always adored: the Ferris wheel of Navy Pier, the thrift shops of Belmont.” Infatuate transports Haven and her fellow teen angels to New Orleans’ French Quarter to spar with more deadly devils. Fantasy elements aside, Agresti says, “What could be a better metaphor for growing up than earning your wings and learning to y?” – Mary Susan Littlepage 62 | | Spring 2013 JESS WALTER PHOTO BY HANNAH ASSOULINE, AIMEE AGRESTI PHOTO BY ROUSE PHOTOGRAPHY GROUP Lake Effect | BOOKS Book Club e North Shore is in for a treat when award-winning author Jess Walter makes an appearance on May 8 to discuss his book Beautiful Ruins ($16, Harper) for Wilmette Library’s eighth annual One Book, Everybody Reads event. e six-week reading and book discussion program, which drew 500 participants in 2012, unites the community in a shared reading experience that includes book discussions and other programs, which culminate with the selected author’s visit. NS chatted with Walter about Beautiful Ruins and his growing body of highly acclaimed work. – Elaine Doremus How did it feel to be called “a ridiculously talented writer” by The New York Times ? NEXT CHAPTER Taking Flight It’s no coincidence that the teens at the center of Northwestern University graduate Aimee Agresti’s new young adult novel Infatuate are Evanstonians. “I couldn’t resist, I was so inspired by my years at Northwestern,” Agresti, 36, says of the second book in her trilogy about a teen angel earning her wings ($18, Harcourt) released in March. “Evanston holds a special place in my heart; it’s where I rst started dreaming of becoming a novelist.” ough she earned a journalism degree, a writing class with Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford got her hooked on ction. “He was so encouraging of all of us, he told us to go for it, to keep writing,” she says. “ e idea of living a novelist’s life had seemed so out of reach, but he made the impossible seem possible if we just kept working at it.” Agresti spent 10 years in the world of entertainment magazines, including stints at US Weekly and Premiere , but kept up a creative writing habit on the side. It paid o . Last year saw the release of her debut novel Illuminate . e rst installment in her Gilded Wings trilogy follows Evanston high school student Haven Terra as she battles devils—and of course, falls in love with one—against a backdrop of Chicago landmarks. e book always exists for me as a series of problems I’m trying to solve and almost has a separation from me as a person. When I read [a review like] that, I don’t tend to take that personally because it’s about the book. Give us some insight into your writing process, from conception to fi nished manuscript. that it was the same time they were making the 1963 movie Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, which became the backdrop for the novel. In Beautiful Ruins , you incorporate unusual text treatments, such as a fi lm pitch and an unfi nished novel, into the story. What were you hoping to achieve? Writing a novel is the process of discovering what it’s about, and my books as they nish are seldom how I intended. I often start with an image or a line in which the characters are doing a certain thing. Writing fiction gives you the freedom of going anywhere. As a nonfiction writer, it is terrifying [at first]. You have to trust and believe in what you are writing and that you are creating characters that you want to follow and see where they go. Beautiful Ruins straddles between Italy in the 1960s and Hollywood and the Pacifi c Northwest in the present. How did you conceive of the idea for this novel? A lot of that came about because I wrote the novel over 15 years. It’s about the process of storytelling for me. I worked in Hollywood a little and wanted to re ect that—it became a bit of a play in here, a movie pitch in there and added to the fullness of the story. I wanted the readers to get to know the characters through what they write. What attracted you to participate in Wilmette Library’s program?

Lake Effect Books

The North Shore is in for a treat when awardwinning author Jess Walter makes an appearance on May 8 to discuss his book Beautiful Ruins ($16, Harper) for Wilmette Library's eighth annual One Book, Everybody Reads event. The six-week reading and book discussion program, which drew 500 participants in 2012, unites the community in a shared reading experience that includes book discussions and other programs, which culminate with the selected author's visit. NS chatted with Walter about Beautiful Ruins and his growing body of highly acclaimed work. —Elaine Doremus

How did it feel to be called "a ridiculously talented writer" by The New York Times?

The book always exists for me as a series of problems I'm trying to solve and almost has a separation from me as a person. When I read [a review like] that, I don't tend to take that personally because it's about the book.

Give us some insight into your writing process, from conception to finished manuscript.

Writing a novel is the process of discovering what it's about, and my books as they finish are seldom how I intended. I often start with an image or a line in which the characters are doing a certain thing. Writing fiction gives you the freedom of going anywhere. As a nonfiction writer, it is terrifying [at first]. You have to trust and believe in what you are writing and that you are creating characters that you want to follow and see where they go.

Beautiful Ruins straddles between Italy in the 1960s and Hollywood and the Pacific Northwest in the present. How did you conceive of the idea for this novel?

I visited and loved the romantic villages of Cinque Terre, Italy, in 1997, some of which you could only arrive at by boat or train. When I was there, I imagined a woman disembarking from a boat and the novel took shape from there. I then discovered that it was the same time they were making the 1963 movie Cleopatra with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, which became the backdrop for the novel.

In Beautiful Ruins, you incorporate unusual text treatments, such as a film pitch and an unfinished novel, into the story. What were you hoping to achieve?

A lot of that came about because I wrote the novel over 15 years. It's about the process of storytelling for me. I worked in Hollywood a little and wanted to reflect that—it became a bit of a play in here, a movie pitch in there and added to the fullness of the story. I wanted the readers to get to know the characters through what they write.

What attracted you to participate in Wilmette Library's program?

It's incredibly flattering to have an entire community read your book and it's always great to relate to readers in that way. There's no other art that is as immersive and personal as a novel.

Tell us a bit about your new book of short stories, We Live in Water.

I wrote it over the same period of years as Beautiful Ruins. These stories take place in the Northwest, and the characters are all at moments in their lives when they might make the first glance toward redemption.

What's on your career bucket list?

I've exceeded every ambition I've had. I was fortunate to have my midlife crisis at the age of 12 when I understood the thing I loved to do most. I get to write for a living, which is an incredible gift.

NEXT CHAPTER

Taking Flight

It's no coincidence that the teens at the center of Northwestern University graduate Aimee Agresti's new young adult novel Infatuate are Evanstonians. "I couldn't resist, I was so inspired by my years at Northwestern," Agresti, 36, says of the second book in her trilogy about a teen angel earning her wings ($18, Harcourt) released in March. "Evanston holds a special place in my heart; it's where I first started dreaming of becoming a novelist."

Though she earned a journalism degree, a writing class with Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Ford got her hooked on fiction. "He was so encouraging of all of us, he told us to go for it, to keep writing," she says. "The idea of living a novelist's life had seemed so out of reach, but he made the impossible seem possible if we just kept working at it."

Agresti spent 10 years in the world of entertainment magazines, including stints at US Weekly and Premiere, but kept up a creative writing habit on the side. It paid off. Last year saw the release of her debut novel Illuminate. The first installment in her Gilded Wings trilogy follows Evanston high school student Haven Terra as she battles devils—and of course, falls in love with one—against a backdrop of Chicago landmarks.

"I like taking readers to places they might not have seen," says Agresti. "I resurrected Al Capone's hangout, the Lexington Hotel, and also tried to capture the magic of the places I always adored: the Ferris wheel of Navy Pier, the thrift shops of Belmont." Infatuate transports Haven and her fellow teen angels to New Orleans' French Quarter to spar with more deadly devils.

Fantasy elements aside, Agresti says, "What could be a better metaphor for growing up than earning your wings and learning to fly?" —Mary Susan Littlepage

Read the full article at http://trendmag2.trendoffset.com/article/Lake+Effect+Books/1362992/153186/article.html.

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