Margot Livesey grew up in a boys private school in the Scottish Highlands
where her father taught, and her mother, Eva, was the school nurse. After taking
a B.A. in English and philosophy at the University of York in England she spent
most of her twenties working in shops and restaurants and learning to write. Her
first book, a collection of stories called Learning By Heart, was
published by Penguin Canada in 1986. Since then Livesey has published several novels, including
Homework, Criminals, The Missing World, Eva Moves
the Furniture, Banishing Verona and The House on Fortune
Margot Livesey has taught at Boston University, Bowdoin College, Brandeis University, Carnegie Mellon, Cleveland State, Emerson College, the Iowa Writers Workshop, Tufts University, the University of California at Irvine, the Warren Wilson College MFA program for writers, and Williams College. She has been the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the N.E.A., the Massachusetts Artists Foundation and the Canada Council for the Arts. Livesey is currently a distinguished writer in residence at Emerson College and the John F. and Dorothy H. Magee writer in residence at Bowdoin College. She lives with her husband, a painter, in Cambridge, MA, and goes back to London and Scotland whenever she can.
Margot Livesey's website
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An Interview with Margot Livesey about Banishing Verona
Where did the idea for this novel come from?
In 1998 I read a story in the newspaper about a Scottish student who came to Miami for his summer holidays, was mugged and ended up trying to rob a bank. Something about the young man's bewilderment, his parents' dismay, crystallized two long held writerly ambitions: to depict someone who saw the world differently and to explore the difficulties of knowing another person. I sat down almost at once and wrote what became the first chapter. I then set it aside for almost two years while I worked on Eva Moves the Furniture. When I returned to my pages I realized at once that my character, Zeke, would never rob a bank and that I was also writing a love story.
The book's narration alternates effortlessly between the point of view of a young man with a personality disorder and the point of view of a female, pregnant radio show host. How did you cultivate these two very different voices and was it difficult to switch back and forth, writing from both perspectives?
Switching back and forth between Zeke and Verona was one of the great pleasures of writing the novel. I loved trying to understand the world ...
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