An Interview with author Jamie Ford on Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices

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In a stunning, never-before-attempted marathon of literary wonder, thirty-six well-known authors in the Northwest gathered together to write a complete novel in just six days, live before an audience. Wattpad is giving away copies of the e-riginal novel here!

 We also had the opportunity to interview Jamie Ford, the bestselling author who wrote Chapter 32 of the novel.

1. Do you think writing in real time in front of your “readers” affected how you wrote and who you wrote for?

I was a little self-conscious at first. That whole, dancing naked on Broadway feeling, where part of you is excited to be dancing on the big stage and the rest of you suddenly wishes you’d spent more time in the gym—that kind of feeling. But once the story took over the live audience began to fade away. That’s the beauty of fiction, it can be very absorbing, to the exclusion of all else. (Just ask my wife. Sorry, dear…)

2. Garth Stein addresses the issue of creating one’s legacy, an issue character Alexis Austin deals with as well while taking care of the hotel. How does legacy play into the characters’ motives in Hotel Angeline?

I like to think that great characters have immortal souls. They have a past, present and future beyond the story on the page—they have baggage. In Hotel Angeline, Alexis is the youngest character, so she’s really the last person to arrive at a great party that’s coming to an end and we see everyone reacting in different ways. Some are fearful, some are angry, while others are ready to move on. The best part about Alexis’ character is that she feels all these things and is transformed along the way. For her, the ending is cathartic. It really is a new beginning.

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3. Given the surge in interest in geolocation applications and other local movements, do you see the “read local” movement expanding? What do you think it says about being a writer today?

I’m probably going to sound like a contrarian here, but I don’t think the “read local” movement is going to benefit readers as much as authors. By that I mean—I’m doing a nine-day book tour this fall in (wait for it)… Norway. And I just wrote a guest review for an incredible book by Kyung-Sook Shin, a Korean author whose work is now being translated into English. So the whole read local thing is more global to me. 

But I do see writers reaching out to their peers and creating these self-sustaining writer communities, which is a beautiful thing. Most writers work like cloistered monks, when we’re really pack animals at heart. Anytime we can commune with fellow travelers on this weird writerly journey, I think that’s incredibly beneficial—whether it’s joining forces for community outreach, or just having someone to hold your hair while you vomit on the sidewalk. (Not speaking from personal experience, but you know what I mean).

4. Writers or readers visiting Seattle should be sure to visit…?

The Seattle Central Library, which is the busiest library in the US. It’s the Taj Mahal of libraries. (And yes, I’ve been to the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library, which is nice, but this is different—this place is alive). You can even go on library tours, which showcase the Rube Goldberg-like machinery that automatically sorts books based on their radio-frequency ID tags. Of course, I met my wife at the public library, so I’m partial to such places.

And lest I forget, the Seattle area has some iconic bookstores: Elliot Bay Book Company, Third Place Books, Eagle Harbor Book Company (on Bainbridge Island), just to name a few.

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 Win a copy Hotel Angeline: A Novel in 36 Voices! Check out Wattpad’s Contest Page for details.