By NATALIA HAWK
It’s a rare person these days who hasn’t hear of Eat, Pray, Love – you know, that bestselling novel that sold a casual 10 million copies all over the world. It told the true story of Elizabeth Gilbert, a woman who gave up everything to travel through Italy, India and Bali and rediscover herself. It sent millions of other women on similar pilgrimages to chase happiness, and resulted in a follow-up novel, Committed, which ended up as another number one on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Just as an FYI, you should know that this post is sponsored by Bloomsbury. But all opinions expressed by the author are 100% authentic and written in their own words.
So of course I was intimidated when I had the opportunity to have an interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s just released a new novel called The Signature of All Things – a seriously amazing, epic novel set over the entire 19th century, featuring some incredible characters and some inspirational stories. It tells the story of Alma, an powerfully intelligent female scientist, and her relationship with a Utopian artist, Ambrose.
I picked up the book to read a couple of days before my interview with Elizabeth Gilbert was scheduled, and barely put it down again. It’s one of those books that takes you on the kind of journey that is all-too-hard to tear yourself away from – it’s confusing to return to real life once the final page has been read.
And that made me even more intimidated for my interview with Elizabeth Gilbert. She’s such a successful writer. I hold her in higher esteem than the greater majority of celebrities out there. If I had a dinner party, I would want her there, along with Obama and Beyonce.
But here’s what I didn’t know about Elizabeth Gilbert: She is possibly the nicest, warmest person in the world. Her happiness is infectious and she is generous with a laugh. When I complimented her on her book, she thanked me so profusely that it was as though I was the first person who had ever told her that she had any writing talent whatsoever.
Through our 40-minute chat (10 minutes longer than she was technically allowed to speak to me), she told me some incredibly interesting things about her writing, her research process and her inspirations. Take a look:
NAT: This is your second novel, and your first novel in twelve years. Why did you decide to write another novel after all this time?
ELIZABETH: It was time. I think two memoirs in a row is enough for anybody. You know, nobody’s life is interesting enough to warrant a third memoir [laughs]. And fiction writing is my heritage – it’s where I began, even before I was a journalist, the first publication I ever had was a short story published in Esquire. All through my 20s, all I wanted to be was a writer of fiction – and then somewhere through my 30s I took a sharp turn.
I don’t regret it – I’m thrilled with how it turned out – but I wrote three non-fiction books in a row. I think I just needed to work out some things, and the best way for me to work them out was by telling true stories. Now my life is really nice and pleasant and boring, so I can make up exciting dramas!