Author of Sisterhood series to discuss latest book at Westport Library
Best-selling author Ann Brashares of the popular Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants young adult book series is scheduled for an encore visit to the Westport Public Library on Thursday, Sept. 30, at 7:30 p.m. She will be reading from the recently released My Name is Memory, a book geared for a more adult audience about a love story that spans several centuries.
Westport Public Library's Community Development Director Joan Hume said the community is looking forward to Brashares' upcoming book talk.
"We are pleased and honored to have a New York Times bestselling author return to talk about her latest book," Hume said. "When she was here a few years ago, she spoke about The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, to an audience filled with teenage girls who were delighted to meet her. We look forward to hearing about this new book that will appeal to young and old alike."
Although Brashares typically only makes appearances at venues which are coordinated by the publishing company's publicists, when her good friend and Westport native, Stacy Bass, asked her to come to Westport, she readily accepted. "She is really doing it as a favor to me," said Bass.
A former president of the Westport Public Library's board of directors, Bass will introduce Brashares at Thursday night's book talk and signing.
Bass said that she read My Name is Memory this summer and is pleased to see that it's gotten positive reviews. "It's nice that it's getting a lot of nice attention," Bass said. "I loved the book and thought that the story and characters were captivating. I was sorry when it ended."
In a departure from the Sisterhood series, Brashares tackles the weighty and sometimes controversial topic of reincarnation in her second book for adult readers. (The Last Summer (of You and Me), the first adult book, was published in 2007.)
My Name is Memory is a character-driven tale that weaves the possibility of having past lives with a protagonist who has the ability to remember details from these prior experiences. Brashares said that she was interested in exploring the idea of relationships that transcend time, even though she doesn't offer scientific proof in the existence of this phenomenon.
"I was interested in it from a literal and creative point of view," Brashares explained.
Brashares admits, though, that she is philosophically open to the idea. In fact, she dedicates My Name is Memory to her son, Nathanial, 12, a firm believer in past lives.
"When he was three or four, he used to tell me that this was his `night life,'" Brashares said. "There was something very fanciful about it. I am fascinated because he has a very literal belief in reincarnation. He is definitely my inspiration for this book."
Published in June, My Name is Memory has already sparked strong reactions from readers. Brashares said that she's already heard from readers who have been touched by the book's contents. She said, "They've told me that they look at their lives through a new lens now."
My Name is Memory has been optioned for film and Brashares said that a script is already in the works. "Hopefully, I will see a draft of it," she noted.
In reflecting back on the two movies made from the Sisterhood series, Brashares added that she likes to leave the filmmaking to the experts. She admitted, though, that she enjoyed visiting the movie sets and especially got to know those involved with making the first film.
"It was a lot of fun getting to see how movies are made," Brashares said.
However, her role in the process is "to be a benign and helpful presence, wherever possible."
Experienced script writers are used to transforming the books onto the screen. "I read versions along the way and give notes but I'm really not involved," she explained.
For the past nine months, Brashares has been busy working on a new book which is based upon the Sisterhood characters. Although it's still untitled -- Brashares said this will be finalized soon -- the book is scheduled to be released in June of 2011.
"I knew I wanted the Sisterhood series to be four books and show a real beginning, middle and end but I didn't want to give up on the characters," Brashares explained. "This new book revisits their lives 10 years later."
As a writer, Brashares enjoyed writing once again about the familiar characters after she worked on some other projects, such as My Name is Memory. "It was great to come back to them after giving myself -- and them -- a little space," Brashares commented.
Like many authors, the process of writing a book begins by spending time ruminating about the characters and plot. "I often put off starting a book because when you really start writing it down, you cut off a lot of possibilities," Brashares explained. "That's very hard."
So, while it may look like she's procrastinating by doing mundane household chores and managing the lives of her family, husband and painter, Jacob Collins, and Nathanial and his siblings, Sam, 15, and Susannah, 9, Brashares is actually working.
"I may work haphazardly but I will be thinking about it a lot," she noted. "Every book has its own cycles. Once I start to get into the characters, it starts to get really fun. It takes over my life and then I want to work more. This is usually the final four weeks. It gets very, very intense. It's at this time that I think, `how could I have wanted to do anything else during the day than write.'"
Originally planned as a trilogy, Brashares said that it's her intention to start writing the second installment of My Name is Memory soon. "I've mapped out quite a bit of the trilogy as a whole and it will grow from here," Brashares said.