The Fisher Center at Bard College has posted a video on Vimeo of Neil Gaiman’s recent In Conversation with Audrey Niffenegger. The event can be viewed in its entirety below.
Recently, Frances Marion Platt wrote a review for Almanac Weekly in advance of Neil Gaiman In Conversation with Audrey Niffenegger. The original article can be found here. The following is an excerpt.
More folks who have never set foot on the Bard campus before are likely headed this way for the second installment in the series on Friday, October 3. Once again, Gaiman will be conversing with a fellow author with a penchant for the fantastic, and once again it will be a bit of a Mutual Admiration Society meeting: His guest this time will be Audrey Niffenegger, whose first novel, The Time Traveler’s Wife, was a huge best-seller in 2003 and later inspired a movie that was rather less enthusiastically received.
Onscreen disappointment aside, the tale is remarkable in the fact that it not only manages to add an original spin to the well-worn time-travel subgenre, but also paints compelling, psychologically nuanced portraits of two people in love, Henry and Clare, as they cope with the stresses of a marriage involving frequent and uncontrollable periods of separation. Henry suffers from a genetic anomaly called Chrono-Impairment Disorder, which frequently transports him into the past or future without warning (and without his clothing). In addition to the difficulties, dangers and disorientation that Henry endures on account of the disorder, it also causes Clare to miscarry repeatedly when their fetuses start time-traveling in utero. The Time Traveler’s Wife is social sci-fi of a high order, as well as a metaphor for the challenges facing every couple where one partner is stationed overseas in the military or is required to travel frequently for work or even just has “commitment issues.” A sequel about Henry and Clare’s chrono-impaired daughter Alba is in the works, to the delight of Niffenegger’s many fans.
Friday’s conversation will touch on topics including time travel, Doctor Who, graveyards, taxidermy, graphic novels, pictures, books and long-distance romance. Both authors have written hit novels that take place largely in cemeteries and involve ghosts: Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry (2009) and Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book, which was the first book ever to win the English-speaking world’s two top kid-lit prizes, the Newbery and Carnegie Medals, along with the Hugo Award for the best science fiction novel of 2008. So it’s a fair bet that a mutual fascination with burial grounds will indeed be mentioned.
Less commonly known is the fact that Niffenegger considers herself first and foremost a book artist, which was her field of study at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. She has published illustrated novels and comic books, including The Three Incestuous Sisters, The Adventuress, The Night Bookmobile and Raven Girl, as well as what she calls “visual books,” The Spinster, Aberrant Abecedarium, The Murderer and Spring among them. She co-founded the Center for Book and Paper Arts at Columbia College Chicago, where she is a faculty member, and had her first art retrospective in June 2013 at the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC. Perhaps this Friday’s event will lead to a return visit to the mid-Hudson for a workshop at that hallowed ground of artists’ books, Women’s Studio Workshop in Rosendale? In any case, graphic novels are also bound to be a matter for discussion.
Recently Sarah Walters interviewed Audrey for the Manchester Evening News in advance of her delivery of the Manchester Literature Festival’s Gaiea Manchester Sermon. The original interview can be found here, the following is an excerpt.
Born into a ‘quasi-Catholic’ family and educated at Catholic school, Audrey says the sermon will be her “confessing her inadequacies to the venue. It’s a humbling thing to do and I knew when I took it on it was going to be difficult.
“What this focuses on is my conversion from Catholicism to art. The organisers didn’t say, ‘Go stand in a room and give a lecture’, but I’m not sure they realise how wrong I am for this job!” Audrey laughs.
“I went back and read everyone’s sermon from past years. One of the reasons I took it on is because I’ve been working in art schools for years and one of the things we strive to do is encourage students to rise to the challenge and take on the thing they’re not comfortable with. We’re constantly berating people – ‘Get out of your comfort zone!’. So this is not my comfort zone; let’s go do it!”
Religion, Audrey says, proved a foundation she’s grateful for, but it no longer occupies a big space in her life. “People are constantly questioning and it’s part of the role of religion to ask difficult questions.
“I do think there are things we don’t know about; there are always things we don’t know about. But you look out in this world, especially at this minute, and you see religion trashing society; I don’t understand it.
“I’d rather stand aside and be as ethical and morally sound as I can, more based on philosophy than religion.”
As promised, here is information on the Gothic Tales panel that Audrey will be a part of:
An evening of mysterious and ghostly stories. Among our special guest readers will be writer and comedian Stewart Lee, author and illustrator Audrey Niffenegger and actor Reece Shearsmith.
- See more at: http://www.bl.uk/events/gothic-tales
Where: Conference Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Fri 5 Dec 2014, 18:30
Price: Senior 60+: £8.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
Under 18: £7.00
Full Price: £10.00
Friend of the BL: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
On 05 December 2014, Audrey will be speaking at Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination, the British Library’s exhibition on the Gothic. The exhibition runs from 3 October 2014 to 20 January 2015. We will post again once there are specific details regarding Audrey’s event. Here is more information from their press release:
Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination opens at the British Library exploring Gothic culture’s roots in British literature and celebrating 250 years since the publication of the first Gothic novel.
Alongside the manuscripts of classic novels such as Frankenstein, Dracula and Jane Eyre, the exhibition brings the dark and macabre to life with artefacts, old and new. Highlights of the exhibition include a vampire slaying kit and 18th and 19th century Gothic fashions, as well as one of Alexander McQueen’s iconic catwalk creations. Also on display is a model of the Wallace and Gromit Were-Rabbit, showing how Gothic literature has inspired varied and colourful aspects of popular culture in exciting ways over centuries.
Celebrating how British writers have pioneered the genre, Terror and Wonder takes the first Gothic novel, The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole, and exhibits treasures from the Library’s collections to carry the story forwards to the present day. Eminent authors over the last 250 years, including William Blake, Ann Radcliffe, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, the Brontës, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, MR James, Mervyn Peake, Angela Carter and Neil Gaiman, underpin the exhibition’s exploration of how Gothic fiction has evolved and influenced film, fashion, music, art and the Goth subculture.
Lead curator of the exhibition, Tim Pye, says: “Gothic is one the most popular and influential modes of literature and I’m delighted that Terror and Wonder is celebrating its rich 250 year history. The exhibition features an amazingly wide range of material, from stunningly beautiful medieval artefacts to vinyl records from the early Goth music scene, so there is truly something for everyone”.
From Nosferatu to the most recent zombie thrillers, the exhibition uses movie clips, film posters, costume designs and props to show how Gothic themes and literature have been adapted for stage and screen, propelling characters like Dracula, Jekyll and Hyde and Frankenstein’s monster to mainstream fame. Exciting exhibits on loan to the Library include Clive Barker’s original film script and sketches for Hellraiser, as well as Stanley Kubrick’s annotated typescript of The Shining.
Showing how Gothic fiction has inspired great art, the exhibition features fine paintings and prints, such as Henry Fuseli’s ‘Hamlet, Prince of Denmark’ and Nathaniel Grogan’s ‘Lady Blanche Crosses the Ravine’, a scene taken directly from the ‘Queen of Terror’ Ann Radcliffe’s The Mysteries of Udolpho. These classic images precede dramatic contemporary artworks, such as Jake and Dinos Chapman’s series ‘Exquisite Corpse’, showing how the dark and gruesome still inspire today’s artists.
Celebrating the British Goth scene, we are delighted to reveal a brand new series of photographs of the Whitby Goth Weekend by the award-winning photographer Martin Parr. Commissioned specially for this exhibition, the photographs take a candid look at the biannual event, which takes place in the town famously featured in Dracula, capturing its diversity and energy.
Earlier this year the Library announced that we are putting our literary treasures online for the world to see with a new website, Discovering Literature. Many of the Gothic literary greats featuring in the exhibition, including the Brontës, Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, can be explored amongst the Romantic and Victorian literature now available online.
The Library has partnered with BBC Two and BBC Four to celebrate all things Gothic this autumn with a new season of programmes exploring the literature, architecture, music and artworks that have taken such a prominent place in British culture.
A host of famous literary faces will look back on Frankenstein’s creation in A Dark and Stormy Night: When Horror Was Born, while in The Art of Gothic: Britain’s Midnight Hour Andrew Graham-Dixon looks back at how Victorian Britain turned to the past for inspiration to create some of Britain’s most famous artworks and buildings. In God’s own Architects: The First Gothic Age, Dr Janina Ramirez looks at Perpendicular Gothic, Britain’s first cultural style and Dan Cruickshank looks back at Gothic architecture’s most influential family in A Gothic Dynasty: A Victorian Tale of Triumph and Tragedy. BBC Four delves into the archives uncovering classic performances from Siouxsie and the Banshees, Bauhaus, The Cure, Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and more in Goth at the BBC.
For the second year running the Library, GameCity and Crytek are running an exciting video game competition, Off the Map, this time with a Gothic edge. Following last year’s winners, who recreated London before the Great Fire, this year entrants will use ruined abbeys, the town of Whitby or Edgar Allan Poe as inspiration for a brand new interactive game.
A wide range of literary, film and music events will accompany the exhibition, with speakers including writers Susan Hill, Sarah Waters, Audrey Niffenegger and Kate Mosse, actor Reece Shearsmith, comedian Stewart Lee and musician Brian May.
The exhibition will be officially opened on Thursday 2 October by Labyrinth author Kate Mosse.
On 16 October, 2014, Audrey will be delivering the 5th Manchester Sermon at Manchester Cathedral as part of the Manchester Literature Festival in Manchester, England. Click here to book tickets. Here’s a summary from their website:
Thursday, 16 October, 2014 – 7.30pm
Recently, Audrey spoke at the World Science Fiction Convention (Loncon 3) in London. The following is a review from The Bookseller – the original posting can be found here:
Audrey Niffenegger is writing a sequel to her best-selling debut novel The Time Traveler’s Wife (Vintage).
The sequel is one of two books the author is currently working on, she revealed on Friday (15th August) as she gave the inaugural English PEN/HG Wells lecture as part of the World Science Fiction Convention, Loncon 3, at the ExCel centre.
As well as the sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife, which has sold over 1.5m copies through Nielsen BookScan and was made into a film, Niffenegger is also writing a book called The Chincilla Girl in Exile.
“My own [writing] process tends to be slow,” Niffenegger said. “I don’t know if any of you have noticed that I don’t tend to crank out a novel every two weeks.
“At the moment I am working on two different novels and it’s kind of funny because they bleed into each other and I suddenly realise that I’m writing the same novel twice, so I’m trying to build little fences between them.
“One of them is a sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife and the other is a book I’ve been working on just about forever called The Chincilla Girl in Exile, which is about a nine-year-old girl who has hypertrichosis, which means she’s covered in hair. And the sequel is actually the harder of the two because I have already built the world and I have to follow the rules of the original book and yet manage to make something that has a reason to be in the world and isn’t just one more of the same.”
The Time Traveler’s Wife told the story of librarian Henry, who has a genetic disorder which causes him to travel through time unexpectedly, and his romance with artist Clare. The pair, who meet each other at different points in their lives throughout the novel, have a child together, Alba, who can also time travel, but has more control over her ability.
Niffenegger described her writing process as “chaotic” and said she did “all the bad things that they tell you not to do in writing class”.
The PEN/HG Wells lecture has been set up in honour of the author, a former PEN president the organisation described as a “visionary”.
The aim of the lectures is to “showcase visionary writing and new thinking that embodies the spirit of the pioneering writing and activism of HG Wells”.
Niffenegger built her lecture around a short story written by Wells called “The Door in the Wall”, and argued for the need for more time and space to follow creative pursuits and creative thinking.
The lecture was followed by a question and answer session, during which Niffenegger was asked what she thought the biggest threat to the arts was.
“Amazon,” she answered. “The biggest threat to the arts that I can think of at the moment [is Amazon].”
Niffenegger also encouraged people to exercise their right to vote as a short-term answer to making sure governments invested in the arts.
“The immediate answer is to smite them all [politicians] at the voting booth,” she said.