Culture Street

Amity Gaige is the author of O My DarlingThe Folded World and most recently Schroder. Her essays, articles and stories have appeared in various publications including the Yale ReviewThe Literary ReviewLos Angeles Times and O Magazine.  She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts, with her family.

Where did you draw inspiration from for your story?

My inspirations for Schroder were many.  I’d say the first inspiration was my own new parenthood.  I’m the mother of a seven-year-old boy, one who is a lot like Meadow, very observant.  I began the book when he was about three.  The transformation into parenthood was a wonderful but rocky one for me.  Like a lot of parents, I was intimidated by my new responsibilities – was I saying or doing the “right thing” for my son?  I think many parents harbor doubts like these.  So Schroder is my parenthood book.  Eric is an exaggeration, in his actions, of the problems and choices facing many parents, especially those co-parenting children after divorce.

Before I started writing Schroder, I’d been at work for three years on another novel.  It was to be my great Latvian-American novel.  My mother is an immigrant from Latvia, and her tale of escape from Stalin’s forces at the end of World War II is an amazing one.  But I couldn’t make that novel work.  I was actually doing research in Latvia when a new plot – Schroder’s plot – inspired me to tell my mother’s immigrant story from a radically different angle.  This one in the voice of a German man – a liar, an imposter.   I fused the themes of immigration and identity with a story of parenthood.  Schroder tries to answer the question “Can a deeply flawed or damaged person be a good parent?”

Erik Kennedy is a devoted father, but deeply flawed character. He is unlovable, yet the reader loves him. Why?

Good question!  I suppose that’s what I wanted.  As I said, I was trying to explore the question of whether or not a flawed person can be a good parent.  Eric’s not a consistent or reliable parent, but he really does love Meadow.  That might be the one genuine instinct he has.  He also loves his ex-wife, though the lies he told her are unconscionable.  Maybe readers feel his good intentions.  He wants so badly to be better than he is.

I tend to think of people as good at heart.  But I also think that life is a mess, full of wrong turns and self-deceptions.  I suppose that writers write their personal philosophy into their books, and mine is written in to Schroder.

Why did you choose to write your story as a letter from Erik to his estranged wife?

I needed to have a listener – an addressee – to “hear” Eric’s confession.  Laura is the right person for the job, since she deserves and explanation of – as per the first line – where Eric and Meadow have been since their “disappearance.”  Though Laura no longer loves Eric, he still loves her, or believes that he does.  And so the novel also has the feel of a strange sort of love letter.

Erik uses a false identity. Why did you decide on a Kennedy?

His choice to become “Eric Kennedy” was extremely ambitious, and a bit foolish.  It ends up drawing much more attention to him than he originally intended.  As he says in his opening pages, Eric created his life story at age fourteen, and therefore it wasn’t a very sophisticated story.

Why do you think readers are so riveted by family drama?

Sometimes I don’t know what other drama there really is.   We all come from families, and most of us create new ones in an attempt to find love and acceptance.  We reveal our “true selves” in intimate relationships, and the stakes are very high.

What is next for you?

I’ve got some ideas on a low boil.  Right now I have a seven-month old baby daughter, and am spending time playing with her.

 

You Might Also Like

Books

Roger Moore delivered final manuscript before his death

Bond star Roger Moore sent in the manuscript for his last book, two weeks before his death. Roger Moore died yesterday (May 23) aged 89 after a short battle with...

On May 25, 2017

Books

The Lost Stories of F. Scott Fitzgerald

Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald that have never before been published will soon be released under the title I’d Die For You.

On September 13, 2016

Books

Our top books for Mother's Day

With Mother's Day fast approaching the shops are full of related merchandise. Here we have selected for you our top books for Mother's Day.

On May 1, 2013
 

Books

Mr Darcy's white shirt goes on display

Twenty-one years after Colin Firth became a heartthrob by striding out of a lake in wet shirt, the shirt is going on display. As far as we know it will...

On March 10, 2016

Books

False Hearts by Laura Lam

By Sophia Whitfield

On July 22, 2016

Books

Little Black Classics for everyone

To celebrate the 80th birthday of Penguin Books, Penguin have published 80 Little Black Classics, putting the spotlight on publishing’s most famous series, Penguin Classics.

On April 22, 2015
 
Copyright © 2012 - 2020 Culture Street
Contact: info@culturestreet.com.au