Indelible is a remarkable first novel

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Indelible is a remarkable first novel

Author grew up in Durango
Courtesy
Saunders
Adelia Saunders

Q: Were you born here in Durango? I know you went to school here and graduated from DHS.
A: My dad grew up in Durango, but I was actually born in Minneapolis. We moved back to Durango when I was 3 so my dad could help my grandparents, who had a small farm south of town, and I grew up in the Sunnyside area. I went to Sunnyside elementary and Escalante Middle School and graduated from DHS in 2002.
Q: Where did you get the idea about a person who sees writing on people’s skin?
A: I helped my husband with some research in the Lithuanian national archives looking for information about his grandmother’s life in Lithuania before WWII. I got very interested in archives – and in particular in the type of information you’d see in a person’s file: names, dates, passport applications, marriage records, school forms, etc. It seemed like something of a curse that, long after a person and every memory of him is gone, it’s these banal (and occasionally tragic or profound) details of a life that are all that’s left. I started thinking about what it would mean for a character to have to know the entire contents of a each person’s “personnel file” – from birth to death – every time she encountered someone new.
Q: Did you visit all the locations in the novel?
A: All except Santiago de Compostela. My great dream is to do that pilgrimage some day. But, like the characters, I have lived in Paris, London and the Baltic region – though I was in Latvia, not Lithuania. The Colorado parts of the story are set in Walsenburg. As a kid, I had a friend whose family had a huge cattle ranch out there, with a house that had originally been built as a dude ranch.
Q: How long did all your research take you, especially the information about St. Jacques and the pilgrimage to Spain? The portions describing Neil’s research in Paris sound particularly realistic.
A: My husband and I lived in Paris for a year in 2008-2009, and while I was there I was getting ready to go to graduate school. One thing I did during that year was hang out in The French National Archives. At first I just went there because I wanted someplace quiet to work, but you kind of have to have documents in front of you while you’re there, otherwise they look at you funny, and so I started requesting files on the Tour Saint-Jacques, which is a gothic bell tower we could see from the window of a friend’s apartment in the fourth arrondissement. I loved doing this research, and the main reason I made the character Neil a student of medieval history is that I found myself wishing I could go back to college and study this, just like he does.
Q: Which character was the easiest to create?
A: Neil, because, like I said, I was sort of living vicariously through him.
Q: Which character was the hardest to bend to the will of the story?
A: Richard, because he’s set apart (by age and location) from the other characters, was the one who took the most revising. Someone in the book industry advised me early on to get rid of his character, but I couldn’t do that, because to me, his search for his mother is the heart of the story, even if it has the least overlap with the other characters.
Q: Which writers do you feel have influenced your writing? Or that you’ve read and admire?
A: Some of the books I read around the time I started writing this were The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie, and Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer. Those books all have an element of the not-quite-real, blended with solid facts of history, that I admire.
Q: What is your writing routine since you have a young family?
A: Having young kids has made me much better, or at least much more fierce, about managing my time. It has also made me less picky about the conditions in which I work, and I wrote whole sections of this book typing with one finger while one or another baby slept on me. Mainly, though, I’m very lucky that my husband has a flexible schedule. I never would have been able to get this story into shape if it hadn’t been for him, working his days around our kids to carve out time for me to work
Q: How did you organize the novel, or did it evolve organically?
A: For a while it was just a project that grew and grew. I couldn’t really think of it as a book until it was almost finished. It was fun to let it evolve like that, but it made for a lot of revising. I believe very much that a writer owes it to her readers to know where where things are going, and so there were a number of times when I had to stop, go back,and start from the beginning, to make sure there weren’t threads sticking out.
Q: Do you plan a sequel to Indelible?
A: No! I have very definite ideas about what happens to these characters afterward, but I would never think to write them down – mostly because I imagine a happy, ordinary future for these people – and who wants to read about that?!
Q: Are you working on a new project/book?
A: Yes. I like having a secret project.
Leslie Doran

If you go

What: Adelia Saunders will be discussing her novel Indelible.
When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday.
Where: Maria’s Bookshop, 960 Main Ave.
More information: Call Maria’s at 247-1438.

Indelible is a remarkable first novel

Courtesy
Saunders
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