When we chose Delia Owens's Where the Crawdads Sing as one of our best books of the month way back in August 2018, Chris Schluep wrote, "This novel has a mystery at its core, but it can be read on a variety of levels. There is great nature writing; there is coming of age; and there is literature. Crawdads is a story lovingly told—one that takes its time in developing its characters and setting, and in developing the story. You’ll want to relax and take your time as well, and when you’re done you will want to talk about it with another reader." Since then, the book has become a huge bestseller, earning rave reviews from critics and readers alike. (Critics are readers, too, I guess. And vice versa.)
When Owens came by our offices a few weeks ago and offered to talk with us about the book, we jumped at the chance. Chris's interview begins at the 14:00 minute mark of the latest episode of the Amazon Book Review podcast, but first we editors share some of our star-struck encounters with writers at the recently concluded BookExpo in New York City—the annual industry trade show, where publishers, booksellers, and authors converge to talk about everything books. We're all grizzled veterans at this point, but we still get excited when we meet the likes of Colson Whitehead, Elizabeth Gilbert, John Hodgman, George Takei, and Tegan and Sara (and learn about their books, of course).
On writing a novel vs. nonfiction (15:21)
"I would watch the lionesses lying around in the late afternoon, playing with each other’s cubs, and sleeping together with their paws draped over each other’s faces—and it made me realize how much I missed by girlfriends back home and how I was isolated from a troop. And, as humans, we have a genetic propensity to belong to a group—and I was isolated from a group. And especially females. So I wanted to write a novel that would explore how much our behavior today is influenced by our genetic past."
Her expectations for the book (18:02)
I was hoping somebody would read it. I just thought, I don’t know… First of all, the title—who’s going to pick up a book Where the Crawdads Sing? It’s not exactly warm and fuzzy. ... I just was hoping somebody would notice it and read it, and I’ve been overwhelmed with the response, and I’m just so grateful to the readers who liked it.
On growing up in Georgia (19:38)
[My mother] wanted us to see deer interacting the way they always had, and she would say to me, Go way out yonder where the crawdads sing. And to her that meant to find that place where you could actually watch a deer interacting with its fawn. Not just running from you because you’re a human, but watch, experience nature. That’s what she wanted from me. And that’s what I’ve done.
On writing books vs. promoting them (29:22)
I’d like to say I’m writing full-time. I’m out here doing podcasts. I didn’t know what a podcast was—is there going to be a camera? So, no, I’m not writing full-time. I want to write full-time. But I want to continue promoting this book as long as I can. It’s fun.
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