Sunday, March 15, 2009

BC About the Author: Audrey Niffenegger

Audrey Niffenegger is a writer and visual artist who lives in Chicago. She is a professor in the Interdis- ciplinary Book Arts MFA Program at the Columbia College Chicago Center for Book and Paper Arts, where she teaches writing, letter- press printing, and fine edition book production. She is the founding member of T3, an artist and writer's group that performs and exhibits in Chicago. Her interests include collecting taxi- dermy and reading comic books.

Audrey’s love of writing developed when she was a young girl, quietly spending her time writing and illustrating books as a hobby. Her wonderfully eccentric imaginativeness was in play from her earliest writing efforts. "My 'first' novel was an epic about an imaginary road trip I went on with The Beatles," she explains on her website, "handwritten in turquoise marker, seventy pages long, which I wrote and illustrated when I was eleven." +/-

Audrey’s mini-magical mystery tour may have been her "first novel," but the first one to which the rest of the world would be privy came many years later. She had already established herself as a prominent artist whose work had been shown in the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the Library of Congress, and the Houghton Library at Harvard University when The Time Traveler's Wife was published in 2003.

She says about the book, "I wanted to write a book about waiting. The Time Traveler's Wife is dedicated to my maternal grandparents, Elizabeth and Norbert Tamandl. My grandfather died very young, and very suddenly, of a brain tumor. I never met him. My grandmother never remarried. By all accounts, my grandparents were very happy together. My grandmother outlived her husband by almost thirty years. I wanted to write about a perfect marriage that is tested by something outside the control of the couple. The title came to me out of the blue, and from the title sprang the characters, and from the characters came the story.” A film version, starring Eric Bana and Rachel McAdams, is due for release in 2010.

Now that she had established herself as a talent to watch, Audrey finally had the opportunity to produce a book she would describe as "a fourteen-year labor of love." Three Incestuous Sisters: An Illustrated Novel, is a gorgeous, modern-gothic storybook about the love and rivalry shared between three women. With its minimal text, Audrey’s chiefly uses her eerie illustrations to convey the sisters' story.

Audrey’s next novel, Her Fearful Symmetry, is due out this fall. "It's set in London's Highgate Cemetery, and features as many of the clich├ęs of 19th century fiction as I can summon." Amazingly, with such a wide variety of styles in her still budding body of work—from science fiction to fairy tale to her impending period piece—Audrey Niffenegger's books still share a strong sense of unity, a distinctly peculiar and particular vision. "The thing that unites all my work is narrative. I'm interested in telling stories, and I'm interested in creating a world that's recognizable to us as ours, but is filled with strangeness and slight changes in the rules of the universe."

Visit her website here.

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