Alice Hoffman’s latest novel The Museum of Extraordinary Things is a magical tale about the power of love and reconciliation focusing on intertwining lives in New York in the early years of the twentieth century. The title refers to a boardwalk freak show on Coney Island offering ‘amazement and entertainment’ to the masses – qualities Hoffman delivers in spades.
Where are you now?
I’m in a small town in Massachusetts where there is still snow on the ground!
Where and when do you do most of your writing?
In the morning, in a small shed in the yard.
If you have one, what is your pre-writing ritual?
Wake up! Look over what I’ve written the day before.
Full-time or part-time?
Full-time. A lifer.
Pen or keyboard?
How do you relax when you’re writing?
Writing is mind altering, so I just go for it.
How would you pitch your latest book in up to 25 words?
In 1911, in New York City, everything changed for immigrants seeking a new life in Manhattan and Brooklyn where it was possible to reinvent yourself.
Who do you write for?
The reader I was and still am.
Who do you share your work in progress with?
My husband first, then my best friend, then my agent, then my editor. (They get progressively tougher!)
Which literary character do you wish you created?
Heathcliff. No question. Most psychologically complex character ever written.
Share with us your favourite line/s of dialogue, poetry or prose.
I don’t think in terms of one line – as a novelist it’s the entire creation that matters. For that: Beloved by Toni Morrison.
Which book do you wish you’d written?
Which book/s have you most recently read and enjoyed?
Books from my childhood, great SF and fantasy, Ray Bradbury. Also a wonderful first novel, The Death of Bees. And always Toni Morrision.
What’s on your bedside table or e-reader?
Currently, the manuscript of the novel I’m working on. I can’t read fiction when I’m writing fiction.
Which books do you feel you ought to have read but haven’t yet?
All of the great Russian novels that now seem longer than my life span.
Which book/s do you treasure the most?
The books from my past.
Which story collections would you particularly recommend?
I love linked stories. Olive Kittredge by Elizabeth Strout, The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury (see also my own collections The Red Garden and Blackbird House).
What will you read next?
Whatever I find in the bookstore. A surprise.
What are you working on next?
A novel set in 1817 in a country I’ve never been to.
Imagine you’re the host of a literary supper, who would your dinner guests be (living or dead, real or fictional)?
Emily Bronte, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and the wonderful Penelope Lively, who I know is great company.
If you weren’t writing you’d be…?
Alice Hoffman wrote her first novel, Property Of, when she was 21. She has published 28 works of fiction, including Practical Magic which was a major film starring Nicole Kidman and Sandra Bullock. She lives in Boston.
The Museum of Extraordinary Things is published by Simon & Schuster. Read more.