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Katrin's Newsletter #47: How a Novel is Born
This brief missive is a way for me to make connections with people interested in art and creativity (sign up here). I'm an author and editor, always on the lookout for inspiration.
How Novels are Born
When I was eleven, my family moved from Brooklyn, NY to London. That summer, we visited my mother's mother in Ibiza where she'd been living since the 1960s. Twice divorced, she moved there on her own and opened a beauty parlor, slowly saving enough money to buy an apartment as well as a tiny parcel of land.
That summer, Grete Fritz was dying. She was 63.
For a while, we had fun with Omi and her ragtag group of friends: the cuddly gay Spaniard who let us climb his trees and gorge on syrupy figs; the ex-pat British couple who loved gin martinis; the elegant, skinny Frenchman with the orange toupé. Grete had found her people.
When she got noticeably sick (cancer, again), my brother and I went feral. I remember it as endless sizzling weeks of total freedom and exploration. We sneaked into hotels and jumped on couches, befriended a tow-headed American boy who got us free food, rode horses on the beach, watched cliff divers. We made friends with marines from an American ship in the harbor (and were gone so long my mother called the police). I listened to Fly Robin Fly in a bar that had once been a dank cave.
That summer marked a turning point in my life. I got a glimpse of the person I wanted to become. I wanted to be as creative, ambitious, full of life, open-minded as my grandmother (in the picture above I'm pretending to drink a cocktail, wearing her shades and jewelry). I never really got to know her, but she's lived inside me in the form of these memories.
The novel I'm working on (currently called The White Island) is set in Ibiza in 1965 and right now I'm so loving being there in my imagination. It's interesting to see what burbles to the surface and makes its way into my book.
I've been back many times and in a month I'll head there again, alone, to work. This is the glorious part of being a writer.
Old Town, Ibiza, with Omi's namesake, my daughter Greta :)
If you love foreign languages, Paris, and messy romantic intrigues, check out Both Sides of the Blade (Amazon Prime).
First of all, the stars, Juliette Binoche and Vincent Lindon are just so beautiful AND... the language! This is a talky movie, and the French is mesmerizing. Also, it's good fun: love, sex, obsession with a dash of cultural commentary, what more can you ask for? P.S. Fair warning: my husband would have hated this movie.