In Conversation With: Louisa May Alcott

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Louisa May Alcott is the author of several beloved classics, including Little Women, Little Men, and Jo’s Boys. Alcott accepted my request to make her the first subject of this new series of interviews, but I could tell upon arriving at her home in Concord, Massachusetts, that I was in for more than I had bargained for. Over cups of tepid water (me) and hot vermouth mixed with two Splendas (her), we talked about her hobbies, her fashion sense, her love life, and her new book, tentatively titled Jo March: Ultimate Fighter.

Thanks so much for speaking with me.
I don’t normally do this sort of thing.

I know, and I’m so flattered you accepted my request.
Well, Jock (Miss Alcott’s literary agent) told me if I was set on a comeback you were the girl to open up to! Just don’t expect me to put out any crackers or syrupy biscuits. I don’t cotton to such delicacies.

What sort of snacks do you like?
Pickles.

OMG, me too!
That’s sensational! We ough to pool our resources and start our own artisanal pickle shop.

I love it—we’ll leave all the copy-writing involved to you though!
We can call it Little Pickles!

You madame, are a card.
(we both laugh.) 

Oh, but enough silliness. Can you tell us a little bit about the new book?
I “could.”

Sorry, would you please?
Ha ha, that’s better. Sorry, but I’m a bit of a grammar snob. Being with the good professor has made me kinder, but mainly only to those for whom English is a second language.

That makes sense.
I tutor on Saturdays sometimes! Mainly the elderly. A man from Uruguay paid me in this handsome tapestry poncho you see me wearing now! But you were asking me about the book. The working title is Jo March: Ultimate Fighter.

Am I to presume, given the title, that we’re going to see a new side of Jo?
(Chuckles darkly) Oh, very much so. With all her children grown, and the professor working on his next book, Jo takes up cage fighting. As expected, she is a wonderful fighter, but her journey is not without its fair share of ups and downs. Amy is her coach, and they are forever bickering. Mainly because Amy does not think the hoodie Jo forces her to wear is fashionable.

This is a real about-face from the Jo we all know and love.
Yes, well, I’ve been reading a lot of Chuck Palahniuk.

I can’t wait to check it out! Do you have anything in mind once this project is finished?
I’ve been taking a lot of photographs of my cat—John Brooke the Fifth—lately. The old folks I tutor seem to really enjoy them. I might make a calendar.

Your cat is named John Brooke?
John Brooke the fifth. I name all my cats John Brooke.

Ah. I know that we’ve entered an age affected by what some would call the “culture of cuteness.” With the web, there’s a real demand for photos of dogs, and of cats, too. Was the internet a source of inspiration for you?
What is “internet”?

It’s that…you know, never mind. Never mind. May I just say that I think your hairdo is really excellent.
Thank you. It is modeled after a man’s moustache.

Really?
Oh yes. I once saw a man strolling with a walking stick, and on his face was the most powerful moustache. I said to my father, who was cleaving logs, “Papa, may I one day aspire to such a moustache?” He just laughed and laughed, and explained little girls don’t have moustaches. I opted for hair shaped like a moustache instead.

That’s fascinating. I have to say, I’m really honored to even be here. I’ve been a huge fan of all your books. In fact, you could say that I have a bit of a girl crush on you.
Girl crush? You mean like that time when Amy nearly drowned in the frozen lake? Her lungs were nearly crushed by the weight of the icy waters.

Um. Not really.
Amy long had a weight problem. She retained much water due to her obsession with limes.

Dude, yeah, what was up with the limes?
Because of the lawsuit I’m not allowed to say “it was because of the drugs,” so I’ll let you fill in the blanks.

Whoa.
I know! That got heavy. Would you like to try on my writing cap?

I’d love to!
(does not let go of her writing cap) I know you would.

(A pause, we both laugh uproariously.) 

You tease! Speaking of your writing cap, what’s your favorite thing to wear? Like, fashion-wise?
Jodhpurs. I own eleven pairs, would you believe it?

Who doesn’t love jodhpurs? And, in your free time, what sorts of hobbies do you enjoy?
I enjoy penning amteur theatricals and performing them here in my home.

Oh right, with your sisters, yes?
Not anymore, they’ve all aged out of the roles I tend to write. It’s a brutal world, the theatre. Typically, these days, I lure in the local children to participate. They might cry for the first hour or so, but at about hour three things really start to click. I guess that’s why they call it the “magic hour.”

That’s not what the magic hour is.
I thought we agreed that we’d leave all the writing up to me?

(More uproarious laughter, and further talk about our future pickle-making plans. A good time is had by all.) 

Which author should Rebecca interview next?

  • DGR1214

    Does it need to be a woman author? Because I would love to read an interview with John Steinbeck, or with John Gardner. There’s also Willa Cather, and Dorothy Parker, and Sylvia Plath and Ariana Franklin, all interesting deceased authors to interview. Also, Ray Bradbury.

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