Elizabeth Hartley Winthrop was born and raised in New York City. She earned her B.A. from Harvard University and her M.F.A. in fiction from the UC Irvine, where she was the recipient of the Schaeffer Writing Fellowship. She is the author of two novels, Fireworks and December. She lives in Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and St. Bernard.
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Elizabeth Winthrop discusses December
(Q&A contains plot spoilers)
The following questions were posed to me by a specific book group that had read
December, but they are representative of the general sorts of questions I'm
often asked about the book, especially regarding the nature of Isabelle's
silence and the seeds out of which the novel grew.
Did you battle with any OCD issues growing up?
When I was a teenager I struggled for years with anorexia. This was a very difficult time for both me and my parents and was actually the seed out of which December grew; I wanted to examine the impact something like anorexia has on a family, and not just the afflicted person. I chose silence for Isabelle rather than anorexia, or bulimia, or self-mutilation, or addiction, because I felt that readers would be less likely to have pre-conceived notions about it. I actually wasn't familiar with selective mutism until after I started writing the book; Isabelle's silence was, for me, a metaphor for any number of ways an adolescent girl might react to the difficult process of growing up. I know you are reading "The Story of Edgar Sawtelle" next, and I heard David Wroblewski interviewed recently. In his...
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