The Interview: Storyteller

Audio only | MP3

Published: May 2004

Fiction writer and English professor Elizabeth Graver does not adhere to the adage “write about what you know.” Instead she uses research on the textures and languages of unfamiliar worlds to free her imagination. Her novels have been set in 19th-century mill life in Lowell, Massachusetts (Unravelling, Hyperion, 1997); on a bee-keeping farm in upstate New York (The Honey Thief, Hyperion, 1999); and most recently, in Awake (Henry Holt, 2004), at a nighttime camp for children who, due to a rare genetic disease, must avoid exposure to sunlight.

In conversation with Boston College Magazine editor Ben Birnbaum, Graver describes the genesis of Awake, including her initial and only visit to a real-life camp for children with xeroderma pigmentosum. And she answers questions about the sometimes anachronistic life of a novelist and teacher of writing: why she doesn’t carry a notebook and is no longer frustrated by her unfinished novels; what it’s like to play ping-pong at Annie Dillard’s house; and how to be someone, as Henry James put it, “on whom nothing is lost.”

“Storyteller” was filmed at the MTS Studios in Chestnut Hill, on May 7, 2004.

This feature was posted on Saturday, May 15, 2004 and is filed under Videos.
Writer: Nicole Estvanik
Director: Dave Corkum
Producer: Jeff Reynolds