Alice Hoffman’s Faithful is featured in our Winter Fiction box and is an enchanting story which will easily be enjoyed by mothers and daughters alike. A wonderful tale of healing, compassion and hope, the story of Faithful is told in the lyrical prose that is so uniquely Alice Hoffman. I had the fantastic good fortune to interview Alice, please enjoy!
QL: The tone and the cadence of Faithful is so lyrical and flows so beautifully, that I found I couldn’t put it down. I read Faithful in a day, and simply felt wrapped up in the words and Shelby’s journey. Can you describe that first glimmer of inspiration for this story– when the seed of Shelby’s story first grabbed hold?
AH: I’m so glad you read Faithful in a day. I think it’s the kind of novel that makes you read to the end because you’re invested in Shelby and her journey. The inspiration for the story was the idea of writing about mothers and daughters, and how if you have one person in the world who believes in you, you have a much better chance at making it through trauma.
QL: I was also incredibly moved by the relationship between Shelby and her mother. Throughout the story, Shelby’s mother patiently held such a loving space for her daughter to knock up against, find herself within and work through her grief. And, like the cards, this relationship provided such a grounding element in Shelby’s journey. Her mother’s patience truly was a fierce sort of courage – holding space and allowing her daughter to simply be who she needed to be to move through her emotions and finally heal. This relationship rang so true to me, were Shelby and her mother inspired by a relationship from your own life?
AH: I don’t have a daughter, but I was a daughter! My mother and I were very close, and I did feel she was always there for me when it mattered. That relationship, between mother and daughter, is so complicated and so important. I did think Sue, Shelby’s mother, had great patience and that helped Shelby to heal.
QL: I am always so curious by what writers read. What are you reading right now? Is there one book or author that you often turn to for inspiration?
AH:For inspiration I always turn to Toni Morrison, who I feel is the greatest living writer. Recently I read The Underground Railroad, by Colson Whitehead, which I thought was brilliant.
QL: Also, when you finish a story – all drafts and revisions are completed – is it hard to leave the characters and move on to the next story? I would imagine it would be hard to move on quickly from Shelby – what is it like when you finish a story – does it sometimes feel bittersweet?
AH: I always move on to a new book, and am excited to do so. But this time it was hard for me to leave Shelby, who I had begun to think of as a daughter. I miss her still!
QL: What are you working on now? Would you be willing to offer a sentence or two about your next book for a sneak peek?
AH: I’m working on the prequel to my novel Practical Magic. The new book takes place in New York City in the 60s and follows the lives of the aunts from Practical Magic.