Monday, February 17, 2014

Monday Movies with Novel Matters

Welcome to Monday at the Movies, a monthly event on Novel Matters. The featured author this month is Amy Tan. Since we like concise writing, we also like concise movies. Featured interviews with authors will always be 5 minutes or less but pack a definite punch for developing writers.

Amy Tan is the author of The Joy Luck Club, The Kitchen God's Wife, The Hundred Secret Senses, The Bonesetter's Daughter, The Opposite of Fate: Memories of a Writing Life, and two children's cooks, "The Moon Lady" and "Sagwa," which has now been adapted as a PBS production. 

She's a very prolific, talented, and entertaining woman. You'll enjoy hearing from her.

In this interview, Amy talks about writing from personal experience.


Do you write from personal experience? Do your life experience, ethnicity, or sex influence your story choices? Tell us about the tradition of storytelling in your family. Have you adapted family or personal stories into fiction? Do you have a favorite Amy Tan novel?


Megan Sayer said...

Yes, that's it. When Amy says, of her great-grandmother, "some part of her history has come down and has become part of mine", that's where it resonated most for me. When I tell stories from my history it helps me remember who I am too, in a larger place than just my memory.
The other important thing I've discovered for myself recently is my passion for telling Australian stories, even specifically Tasmanian stories. We have such a glut of American stories here (some great, some not so great), and to read something that's "us", that's a true facet of who we are as Australians, as Tasmanians, is akin to telling an old family story and remembering what makes us family, what makes us unique. I never appreciated my Tasmanian-ness as much as I did while in the US, mostly because I could never see it, let alone appreciate it. My hope in telling stories is that others can be inspired to see the greater truth in their own mundane, a greater poetry in their version of normal.

Susie Finkbeiner said...

I come from a long line of storytellers. This is good and bad. Good because reunions, although awkward, are never lacking a good tale. Bad because our history has taken on a bit of a mythological quality. I think of the stories I've heard throughout my life and wonder how I'll ever sort out what's true and what's a big fish.

I'd love to write adaptations of old family stories, myth or not. With a colorful family like mine, it would be sure to entertain.

Patti Hill said...

Megan: I look forward to reading your Tasmanian stories. I thoroughly enjoy Australian literature. We speak the same language, but we are shaped by a land and culture that is very different. Our humanity is the sinew that binds.

Susie: I missed my opportunity to get some of those myths clarified when my mom passed away. I knew I would have to ask Mom some tough questions, and knowing her as I did as someone who wanted to be regarded well, I didn't ask. I didn't want her to have to show herself. But I could have asked more questions around my mom.

Lately, I've been watching a lot of Who Do You Think You Are from the UK. The participants have to be willing to face the good and the bad. It takes lots of courage and grace to do that kind of reserve. JK Rowling was especially touching.

Suzy Parish said...

I would have to answer yes, yes, and yes to the above questions. All my writing seems to be influenced by personal stories and family fiction. I say fiction because the more I study family stories, when my siblings and I get together, I find that everyone has a slightly different version of the same story. It doesn't make the storyteller's story untrue, it just makes it that person's version. My current novel is based on experiences my husband had when we was stationed overseas as a contractor. It was funny that Amy Tan brought up the gender perspective. When I started my novel I had it written from the two main characters, each with about equal time. It didn't take long to see the voice of the male character was taking over the book. Then I had a choice to make, strengthen the female character or let the book take its course. The novel ended up being heavily male dominated, with only short scenes with the female character. Thanks to research with my son-in-laws and my husband, I think the men in the book are true to form. The proof is in the pudding, as my mother used to say. The ultimate decision will be made by my readers. Thanks for posting this!

Suzy Parish said...

And that should have been when "he " was stationed. Sorry about that.