Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Tipping Point Contest

Since no one won my last contest, I'll make this one easier by telling you the name of the book...hopefully you will read the whole novel.

In The Thirteenth Tale, Diane Setterfield's Margaret says, "We had reached tipping point." Explain what she meant and on what page.

Please email me privately with the answer and if correct, you win a Writer's Basket full of helpful tools for a writer.

Books pass secret messages

Diane Setterfield specialized in twentieth-century French literature, and she read and reread Gide many times for her PhD. The interviewer asked how Gide affected her writing.

Setterfield answered, that she recognizes Gidean cadence in some of her phrases as if to her ear her own writing is a translation of Gide. "Why does my mind persist in hearing the echo? The explanation that most appeals to me is that there are hidden underground networks by which books pass secret messages to each other, networks that we readers and writers can only be half conscious of".

Books communicating with each other? I love that idea!!!

Inner furniture in characters' minds

In the back of The Thirteenth Tale, there's a conversation section with Diane Setterfield. The interviewer asks her what significance the titles of the nineteenth-century novels had that were sprinkled throughout the novel.

Setterfield answered, "...once the titles started coming, I made no effort to keep them out. They are there because they are part of the inner furniture of Margaret's and Miss Winter's minds..."

So, not only are we writing physical settings that could be characters in themselves, certainly Setterfield's houses in this tale are characters, but the inner minds of the characters now have a new depth to consider.


In The Thirteenth Tale, Setterfield emphasizes her characters' storytelling skills. When Margaret asks Aurelius to tell her about how Mrs. Love found him, Margaret speaks about voice...the story telling voice. Margaret describes it as she listened:

"His face settled into passive neutrality, a sign that, in the way of all storytellers, he was disappearing to make way for the voice of the story itself." (page 233)

The "voice of the story itself", I appreciated that perspective, and made it a renewed goal as a writer to listen to the story's voice as it's being written.

The Thirteenth Tale

Diane Setterfield's The Thirteenth Tale has captivated me for the last couple of weeks. I had trouble doing my work since the book kept calling me back to read on. I finished it about a week ago and then I dived into Run by Bel Canto's author, Ann Patchett.

"Diane Setterfield is a former academic, specializing in twentieth-century French literature." (From the back flap of her book) That sentence sums up what is unique about her writing: classic, Gothic, yet present-century. She created two houses with characters I now know so well, I feel I could visit them anytime...and I do, when I think about her story. What a memorable read!

This rainy weather has provided a perfect time to make reading a priority. But I promise to pay more attention to blogging and tell you more about the great stories written by Diane and Ann.