Gabrielle Zevin is the author of Elsewhere, Memoirs of a Teenage Amnesiac, and All These Things I've Done, as well as two novels for adults. Of her writing, the New York Times Book Review said, "Zevin's touch is marvelously light even as she considers profundities." She lives in Los Angeles. Learn more online at memoirsofa.com.
Gabrielle Zevin, in her own words:
"Before I liked to write, I liked to type. I remember visiting my grandmother Adele in Ponce Inlet, Florida, when I was three years old, and she had an IBM electric typewriter. I thought that this electric typewriter was about the most fascinating toy in the world -- I liked the little bell and the sounds and the feel of the keys and especially the erase key. Grandma Adele would set me up with plenty of paper and I'd be entertained for hours. I would type pages and pages, mainly nonsense, but sometimes my name or lists of words I knew. I can't remember when the nonsense changed into something more organized and storylike, it just did. (Will the monkey eventually type Shakespeare? Not yet.) The first stories I wrote were autobiographies, because, at that age, I found myself a most intriguing subject. Still, the autobiographies were largely fictionalized. I'd sometimes leave space for illustrations and sew the pages together when I was done. And for many years, this was the extent of my fiction career.
"When I was around eight, I learned how to touch-type at school, and I received a computer as a present. I started writing plays, and for many years I thought I would be a playwright. Over the years, I had studiously managed to write everything but novels -- I had been a copious pen pal, a first-class transcriptionist, a professional screenwriter (still am, actually), a teen music reviewer, a mediocre research-paper writer, and, of course, a writer of plays. So, although I was not writing novels, I was always writing something. Actually, I hadn't ever felt any particular calling to be a novelist, and I clearly remember telling a friend of mine about six months before I started work on Elsewhere that I would NEVER write a novel. And then I thought of the idea for Elsewhere, which did not seem to want to be a play or a screenplay. It kept sounding awfully novelish in my head, and though I was a little scared, I just sat in front of my computer and started to type. So it was fortunate that I liked typing, because I would be typing Liz's story for many a moon. Although I still write screenplays, I've written two other novels since writing Elsewhere. And I'm happy to report that I still like the sound of the keys."
Gabrielle Zevin has had several screenplays optioned by film studios. Gabrielle is a 2000 graduate of Harvard with a degree in English and American literature. She was born in New York and lives there still with one pug dog, Mrs. DeWinter, and her partner of ten years, director Hans Canosa.
Author biography courtesy of Farrar, Straus & Giroux.
Good To Know
Some interesting outtakes from our interview with Zevin:
"I don't believe in writer's block."
"I own a pug dog, like the one in Elsewhere."
"My first novel, Elsewhere, was actually published three months after my second novel, Margarettown."
"For me, writing about the afterlife was really a way to discuss the important things about this life."
"I wish that the adults who are 'in power' cared more about what their children read. Books are incredibly powerful when we are young -- the books I read as a child have stayed with me my entire life -- and yet, the people who write about books, for the most part, completely ignore children's literature."
"One of my favorite book quotes is from The Unbearable Lightness of Being: 'We can never know what to want, because, living only one life, we can neither compare it with our previous lives nor perfect it in our lives to come.' "