The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Suzanne Rindell

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Suzanne Rindell


Summary: Robert was completely blown away by The Other Typist and he had quite a few questions for author Suzanne Rindell when she popped in to see us.
Date: 17 January 2014
Interviewer: Robert James
Reviewed by Robert James

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Robert was completely blown away by The Other Typist and he had quite a few questions for author Suzanne Rindell when she popped in to see us.

  • Bookbag: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Suzanne Rindell: Well, I try to imagine everyone who might possibly have the tiniest bit of interest – I really dislike authors who harbour ideas about some sort of preferred audience.

That said, it’s kind of funny; in that immediate moment when you sit down to write, you don’t imagine anyone reading your work. Not when you’re in the headspace where you’re actually inventing things. I think it gives you the freedom to write all the wrong stuff, which is often so necessary for writing the right stuff!

  • BB: The Other Typist features one of the most captivating narrators of the year so far. Who's your favourite narrator in any book you've read?

SR: There are so many good answers to this question, it’s difficult to pick only one. I think pretty much all writers have to tip their hat to Humbert Humbert in Lolita. I really fell for Grace’s tricks in Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace. And then in terms of more reliable narrators, of course, I love Nick from The Great Gatsby. He provides kind of a neutral, third-person perspective while still possessing the immediacy of a likeable, first-person voice.

  • BB: I loved the book, as I think I just about conveyed in my review but found it incredibly hard to write a review without spoiling it. How difficult is it for you to talk about the book without giving anything away?

SR: Quite difficult! I didn’t realize this until I went on a book tour and found myself stumbling around to adequately answer questions while at the same time not giving away any spoilers. It’s tricky.

  • BB: What were your inspirations for The Other Typist?

SR: I was working on my academic dissertation in 1920s literature and culture, and I came upon the obituary of a woman who had worked as a typist in a police precinct during the Prohibition era. I was intrigued by what her daily life might have been like, and not long after that, I began hearing Rose’s voice narrating in my head. It was really a question of listening to that voice and following it where it led.

  • BB: If you were heading to a speakeasy, which six literary characters or authors would you want to be meeting up with there?

SR: Any six, no matter how anachronistic? Hmm. Jay Gatsby as the MIA host, Holly Golightly to remind everyone they’re fabulous, Dean Moriarty to get rip-roaring drunk and be the life of the party, Molly Bloom because I feel like she could do with a night out on the town, Tom Ripley to perform impersonations of all the party guests… and maybe Miss Havisham off in the corner guzzling a much-needed martini and showing off her decaying wedding dress.

  • BB: The Other Typist has been named one of Amazon's top 10 picks of the month, one of the top 10 summer books in Marie Claire and in Publisher's Weekly, and (most impressively of all, of course) got a rare five-star review from me here on The Bookbag. Were you expecting your debut novel to be this well-received?

SR: No, it’s been a surprise! A wonderful surprise, but certainly a surprise.

  • BB: Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what was the soundtrack to The Other Typist?

SR: Sometimes. I either listen to classical or jazz while writing. Preferably things without lyrics to distract me. However, while writing The Other Typist, I created an Al Jolson station on Pandora, which really helped me get into the mood to write the speakeasy scenes.

  • BB: What are you reading at the moment?

SR: I’m rereading lots of 1950s stuff: Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, On the Road by Jack Kerouac, The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe, Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, etc.

  • BB: What would you recommend for readers to keep them busy while they're waiting for your next book?

SR: There’s so much great stuff out there right now. I tend to pick up whatever’s new-ish in paperback or else things that have been out for a while but that I haven’t read yet. In that vein, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter has been wonderful so far. And same goes for The Wife by Meg Wolitzer.

  • BB: What's next for Suzanne Rindell?

SR: I’m working on a second novel, set in 1950s Greenwich Village, focusing on the crossover between the beatnik scene and the publishing scene. I’m really enjoying this new group of characters.

  • BB: We look forward to hearing all about them, Suzanne

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