I'm so interested, always, in how the bits and pieces of our lives go
together, how they form a narrative, and how important they are to us. My son
died when his little girl was not yet two. She's twelve now, and she asks me
often, Tell me stories about my dad when he was little.' She giggles at the
when-your-dad-was-naughty stories. But she knows intuitively that the narrative
of his life is also a valuable part of her own.
Of course, I dealt with that, the importance of our memories, in a book
called The Giver, and in the personal memoir called Looking Back,
as well. But thoughts about memory were haunting me, still, when I sat down to
write the book that would be called Gossamer.
Do you remember your dreams?
Some. Especially those that recur. I even have a favorite, in fact: so much
so that when it recurs I actually thinkwhile deep asleep"Oh, great, this dream
again! I love it!" But at the same time, I suppose that, like most people, most
of what I dream disappears on waking. If that weren't true, the whole concept of
dreams would not be so endlessly fascinating and mysterious.
(I'd tell you what that favorite dream is, but actually it intrigues me
enough that it might find its way into a book. So I don't want to talk about
Naming is significant in many of your books: The Giver, Messenger,
Gathering Blue. In Gossamer, you choose descriptive words (Littlest,
Thin Elderly, Fastidious) instead of traditional names. Can you talk a
little about why you did this?
In the first draft of Gossamer, Littlest actually had a "real" name.
Along the way, it disappeared: it no longer felt right, it felt too human. I
began to perceive that the creatures (for lack of a better term)the
dream-giverswould be more ethereal, would lack some of the more prosaic human
elements: names, houses, pets, and hobbies. Clothing, too, I suppose! They are
really unencumbered except for spirit. I suppose they could be described as pure
Is there a particular character from Gossamer that you identify
with the most?
Well, in writing Gossamer, I created a number of different characters,
and being a woman about the same ageand one who lives with a dog!I suppose I
identify most closely with the character called, simply, the woman. But although
I like "the woman"and although I rooted for the boy, John, to become
whole and happythe character who most interested me was the one called
I've always been fascinated by the concept of the very young child's
perception of self. I remember a time eight years ago when my granddaughter,
then four, explained to me very politely and solemnly, because she suspected I
had forgotten, "I'm only little."
More recently, a younger grandson, also four, said to me with a sense of
wonder, "My head is just so full of thoughts."
Littlest, in Gossamer, reminds me of my own small grandchildren, and
of all little ones whose heads are so full of thoughts, and who are so curious
and intent on figuring out their place in the world.
Do you think you'll write more books featuring Littlest?
Every time I finish a book I feel as if I have said goodbye to it, to its
characters and their lives. Right now I feel that way about Gossamer, and
about Littlest. I left her content, increasing in wisdom and maturity. Why
revisit her? But even as I say thatand believe it to be trueI recall that I
said that of earlier books, earlier characters, and then after time passed,
began to yearn to be with them again. So I've learned not to be overly certain.
What are you working on now?
Well, right now I'm working on some more Gooney Bird. She has become quite
popular in the early grades: younger readers than my usual. And it's such fun,
moving back into her classroom with its merriment and confusion.
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