Monday, July 23, 2007

Interview with author T.C. Boyle

T.C. Boyle is the author of twenty books of fiction. He received a Ph.D. in Nineteenth Century British Literature from the University of Iowa in 1977 and is a faculty member of the University of Southern California's English Department.

Talk Talk by T.C. Boyle
ISBN: 0143112155
(June 2007- paperback)

Boyle's most recent novel, Talk Talk (2006) includes a deaf character. The plot involves the identity theft of main character Dana Halter, a Deaf high-school instructor with a Ph.D. and former graduate from Gallaudet University. For fun, she keeps record of Latin roots. With all the multisyllabic vocabulary words, get ready to pull out your dictionary!
The suspense in the novel begins when Dana runs a stop sign while on the way to the dentist. She gets pulled over by police. With drawn weapons, she quickly realizes that she's in far bigger trouble than she'd imagined. With numerous warrants for her arrest that includes crimes such as drug possession, check fraud and assault (No Spoilers!!! that are actually for a man using her identity), Dana must rely on her only true ally-- boyfriend, Bridger (who is hearing and learns sign language) to help her clear her name.

**Read more below from my recent interview with T.C. Boyle.***

SPW: What inspired your character Dana? What type of research did you do to gain the perspective of a deaf woman?
T.C.: I do believe that a good novelist should be able to portray the point of view of anyone, of any culture, and I have written from many perspectives over the course of my career (I've just finished my twentieth book of fiction). I was inspired to create Dana because in a book about identity theft and the roots of individual identity, I felt it would be fascinating to portray another culture altogether, one that might, of necessity, protect its identity even more fiercely than that of the hearing culture. As for research: I did a great deal of reading and I paid a visit to Gallaudet, where the students were collectively reading my 1995 novel, The Tortilla Curtain.

SPW: Will you talk about your experience meeting or working with any deaf individuals (especially in connection to this novel)?

T.C.: I do have an acquaintance who became deaf later in life and adapted quite successfully to the use of cochlear implants. I also had the very rewarding experience of speaking with some forty or fifty students at Gallaudet. What I loved, among other things, was discovering the ability of Sign speakers to carry on simultaneous conversations at a distance.

SPW: How did you decide to become a writer? Will you describe your experience with publishing your first book?

T.C.: I was fortunate enough to go to a liberal arts college (SUNY Potsdam) and have the opportunity to discover what I most loved to do. I began as a music major, switched to history, then a double major in history and English, and finally took a creative writing class. I was also fortunate in publishing rather quickly--my first published story appeared in The North American Review some three years after graduation. If your readers are interested in a fuller accounting, please direct them to the essay on the About the Author pages of ("This Monkey, My Back").

SPW: Any plans for a follow-up story using Dana? Any plans for future books with deaf characters?

T.C.: Not at present. Each book, each story, has its own valence.

SPW: What advice would you give to young people who are reading your book?

T.C.: Advice? To enjoy it. And to know that the book was deepened and enriched for me when I discovered that my protagonist would be deaf and that she herself was writing a book about Victor, le enfant sauvage of Napoleonic France, who was discovered as a feral child and who never was able to acquire written, spoken or signed language.

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