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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



bentley wrote:



I am not Frankie D; but for me the title: The Time of Emergence resonated more than the other titles. Not being so comfortable with the "idea" of insects I would have probably not picked up the book with the word Moth in the title.

Dear Bentley
I also like that title, and it was the one I had in mind when writing.  I have had lots of people say they like it (after reading the book), but I understand the publishers who say that, before you've read the book, it means nothing, is too cryptic, unmemorable and old-fashioned.  There you go!  Everyone has a different opinion!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Bearsstar wrote:
Like everyone else, I want to thank you for letting me read your book.  I had a hard time at the very beginning getting into your book, but I think it was because there was too much happening in getting to know the characters and what was going on, and I had to keep going back to see if I had read it right, or was that your intention.  As I read farther I really enjoyed the book though.  My question is did I miss what actually happened to Vivi in the bell tower?  Did Ginny push her or did she just fall by herself?  For awhile I thought that all this was in Ginny's mind.  I hope that you write another one soon.  I also loved learning more about moths and butterflies.  Have you been interested in them or was it just for the book that you did so much in depth research?  Thank you again for such a good book.


Hi Bearsstar, what can I say?  I'd love to write you a fuller response but I know that I've already answered all your questions on previous posts so I hope you've read them.  But no, it certainly wasn't my intention to confuse you at the beginning so that you had to keep going back over it! Sorry!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for the Editor



Laurel wrote:
That's a good point, Ann. My take on the book is that all the dominoes began to fall at the point in the lecture when Clive said that everything is just matter and fate. If we are just the product of mechanistic determinism, then what is the point of family, love, friendship, humanity, anything? Why not kill people? If there is no God, said one of the brothers Karamazov, then everything is permissible.



bookhunter wrote:

I would challenge or request you to examine the spiritual aspect of the question as well. There are hints of a spiritual life in The Sister: We see Vivi going to church, and we read that Ginny (and Clive) does not believe in God. I think self awareness may be fine and dandy, but awareness of something beyond this world is what really sets humans apart.

I am enjoying your thoughtful responses to our questions as much as I did the novel!

Ann, bookhunter

PS I like The Time of Emergence



Well Laurel
I think that's the scary thing with the advancement in our knowledge of science.  If we can reduce everything so readily (and we are more and more with each new year), we do come to that horrifying conclusion.  I know scientists who believe things along those lines - not 'we might as well kill people' quite, but that everything is pointless...
Poppy



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Re: Questions for the Editor



Poppy_Adams wrote:


MSaff wrote:
Ms Adams,

Thank you for the opportunity of reading your book. I really enjoyed it, and while my questions aren't all answered, have been able to draw my own conclusions. I like it when an author makes me think. What drew you from documentaries to writing "The Sister"? Have you always wanted to be an author? Thank you for taking the time to join us and answer our many, varied questions.

Hi Mike
I have always wanted to write fiction, but I have no idea why I thought I could.  I make up stories in my head all the time.  I'd be a good prisoner, I could just live in my head (although I can imagine it would be dangerous to encourage it too much,  I'll become one of those people who mutter to themselves along the street...).  I didn't want to give up my documentary career but I was finding it increasingly difficult to go off for weeks of filming when I had children.   I thought I'd pursue this dream of writing while my children were young and then pick up the documentaries again later.  Although i won't now, I much prefer writing, and I can do if from home. 
Thank you for taking the time to read and discuss The Sister
Poppy



Thank you for your answers. It is great to have you with us and that you are taking the time to respond to us.
 
Mike
"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind." Dr. Seuss
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Re: Questions for the Editor



blkeyesuzi wrote:
Hi Ms. Adams,

Thank you so much for the opportunity to read your novel in advance. It was a thrill. You've created quite a buzz and just think...this is only the beginning. I'm really happy for your success. I look forward to watching your career and your work prosper. By the way, you mentioned that your husband encouraged you to write (good for him! Thank him for us!!)...

I have several questions about the actual writing/publishing process:
1. Once you started writing, how much time did you devote to the process each day?
2. When/how did you submit your novel?
3. Is the process everything you had expected?
4. How did you feel about the title-changes your novel has undergone?

And finally...are you working on a new book, or do you plan on another in the near future?



Thanks for taking the time to answer all our questions.

Hi Suzi
Thanks for your questions:
1.I try to write every morning, as early as I can (after school drop-off) and then I carry on until I need to eat at about 2 pm.  I write better when I'm hungry and I'm not good in the afternoons.  However, domestic things come up, and school holidays are always so busy, that unfortunately I don't get to write every day.  If I don't start promptly then it doesn't really happen for me for the rest of the day.
2.I submitted the novel to agents in January last year, just before I gave birth to my third child.  I sent three chapters (the first, one from the middle, and one near the end), and I had done abit of research into which agents might like this type of fiction.
3.  I honestly knew very little about the process so I wasn't really expecting anything.  But I've really had a wonderful publishing experience.  I worked closely with both my UK and my US editors, they are both fantastically experienced and I respect their opinions hugely.  Apparently that doesn't always happen! 
4.  I was not that keen on The Sister as a title but I understand completely why it suited the US audience better.  Being a Brit myself, though, I like the understated and quirky approach of the UK cover and title - the cover gives absolutely nothing away about the mood or story or genre (its just a pattern).  I was a part of every decision though so I never felt I didn't have a say.
Poppy 


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Re: Questions for the Editor



Fozzie wrote:


Poppy_Adams wrote:


The thing I found most interesting is that I did not get the same, immediate, response from an equally intelligent UK audience.  I may be wrong, but this is what I have decided:  the English love their eccentrics, they ‘willed’ her to just be eccentric and didn’t want to find anything officially wrong with her.  Perhaps they are also more used to the idea of an eccentric living in a big country house because there are still so many of them here!  Do you think it’s because the English find eccentrics more endearing and American’s like their labels?   I also found it interesting that once the UK audience did realise she was a little more 'off' than eccentric (inherent or created), they suddenly found her habits less ‘endearing’.  Although she was no different, their perception of her had drastically changed.     

I am an American who lived in Oxford, England for 18 months during 1999-2001 while my husband worked for a British firm.  Oxford is a walking city, and I did not have a car, so I spent lots of time walking the city.  At first, I tended to notice if someone was dressed a little differently, and I noticed many people carrying what I considered to be odd things down the road.  However, I soon became used to my surroundings and found the "anything goes" attitude refreshing.  Without exception, friends and family who came to visit commented on things they witnessed on the street which they considered to be odd, things which I had become accustomed to.  Yes, I think that people in England are much more tolerant of the eccentricities of people.



Thanks for that Fozzie, I find that really interesting.
Poppy


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Re: Questions for the Editor



Fozzie wrote:
I think I am the exception, but I don't choose books based on either titles or the cover art.  I order most of my books on line ad don't really even look at a book's cover until I start the book and certainly don't analyze it until I have read part of the book.  Any title or cover would be fine with me. 


I think you probably are the exception.  Good for you!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Peppermill wrote:
Ms. Adams -- did you deliberately write satire in any parts of The Sister? As you may know, I read parts of it that way, especially the sequence with Bernard groping Ginny. And I, rightly or wrongly, associate satire with the British mindset, whatever that might be.

My second question -- how did you think about the issue of trust when writing this book? In particular, even as I found myself trusting Ginny less and less, I wanted to be able to trust the author. In particular, if I was going to explore so much lepidopterology, I wanted to know whether to treat what I was reading as accurate, or whether to be as suspect about that as I had become about other aspects of the narration. (In particular, I am still mystified by "pupal soup" -- a brief search has suggested it may be a valid observation, but ....)

It is always a privilege for a lay reader like myself to access a new writing before publication. You are on what must be a joyous and fascinating but sometimes tough journey! Enjoy!

Dear Peppermill
Thanks for all your contributions.  I think you are right about satire being ingrained in the Brits.  It comes as naturally to us as sarcasm - other people must think its so strange we so often say the exact opposite to what we mean.  I can see the satire, but when I was writing it I didn't think about it particularly.  I think perhaps it comes through naturally.
 
Your issue of trust - well, you are right, if an author is going to write from the POV of an unreliable narrator, by the end the reader doesn't trust  the narrator, or the author (one in the same really).  i don't have a problem with not trusting narrators (think of Remains of the Day), I think what's important is that you continue to emphasize with them.  Did you?
All the best
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Yes, I am a UK person reading the book here who enjoyed the moth bits and who thought they added an extra special dimension to the mystery of it all.  It must be watching Bill Oddie catching moths on BBC2 that makes us Brits fascinated by lepidoptery:smileyhappy:.   It is often one comes across a superbly told tale which includes specialist information about a little known insect, so well done for including that aspect and educating your readers at the same time.   

Poppy_Adams wrote:


kiakar wrote:
Miss Adams, were you already familiar with the material you used on the moths and butterflies you embraced your story with. Or was it just research? What made you decide to use this much information on the moth and butterfly history? I loved the book, by the way, hope you will write another one.  Linda



Hi Linda
Thanks for your questions, but I think I've now answered them extensively on a previous post.  Hope you don't mind if I just direct you there!  There are lots of reasons I used so much moth information - I'm inside her head for one, but there are many other ideas in there that are meant to get you thinking.  Interestingly, I've had so many comments from people in the UK saying that the moth stuff was their best bit!! Can't please you all!
Poppy



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Re: Questions for the Editor

I think it's high time for those scientists to come out of their cocoons and learn that science isn't all there is of life, that it only covers certain aspects of reality.

Poppy_Adams wrote:


>Well Laurel
I think that's the scary thing with the advancement in our knowledge of science. If we can reduce everything so readily (and we are more and more with each new year), we do come to that horrifying conclusion. I know scientists who believe things along those lines - not 'we might as well kill people' quite, but that everything is pointless...
Poppy




"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Poppy,

This isn't really a question, but a sincere comment...

I have to say that this experience has been an eye-opener for me. Reading "The Sister" has certainly taught me a valuable lesson. I followed the threads religiously; reading only the assigned chapters. I found myself getting frustrated when I didn't get the information I wanted from the book, feeling somehow I must be missing something.

I was.

I was so focused on the process, I forgot to just enjoy the book. Enjoy the experience. It "speaks volumes" to me that I'm still thinking about this novel so long after I've finished the final page. So few books have that affect on me. I still think about the characters and their experiences, Ginny in particular. "The Sister" was a very thought-provoking novel and it's only now that I've realized what happened to me as a reader. In retrospect, I wish I had read the book straight through, then come into the discussions. I'm certain that my initial reading did not do you or the book justice.

I'm not sure if any of the others experienced this, but I certainly did...and I feel like you need to know. You wrote a wonderful novel and I hope it is the first of many more to come.
Suzi

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see. " --John Burroughs
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



paula_02912 wrote:
Ms. Adams...thanks for your detailed response here...when I started the book, I was a little confused as to why Maud would think that Ginny had anything to do with Vivi's fall and I pushed that idea out of my head...it seemed plausible that Vivi slipped and was desperately trying to save a piece of toast as she was falling...however, as I neared the end of the book, I started to rethink the idea of Ginny being involved in Vivi's fall...I also thought about how she could have been involved in Maud's fall as well...I was surprised at some of the answers I found, but it wasn't until the last five chapters of the book that I felt that Ginny did indeed push Vivi off the bell tower...maybe it is because she murdered her, as well as her own involvement in the coverup of what happened to Maud...I didn't attribute this reading to her being an introvert though...what you wrote in your explanation is plausible and now I have to rethink what I thought about Ginny and Vivi's fall...this book was a great read because of the sheer fact that it can be interpreted in so many different ways by so many different people...we had some interesting discussions here and the perspectives of many of the readers here were very unique...this is only my second foray into the online Bookclub world with B&N and I am enjoying it...what I like the most is that a person thinks they know what is going on, but as you discuss someone posits something that makes you look at what you thought and try to figure out why their perspective was different from yours...thanks again for visiting with us...


Hi Paula
I'm going to take back some of what I said before!  You are absolutely right that it's very possible to, at first, think Ginny has nothing to do with the bell tower incident, and then as you get through the book look back and wonder if, in fact, she did.  I had forgotten that, sorry.  Because most readers in the discussion seemed to already think she was to blame by that second chapter, I was arguing too strongly in favour of her having nothing to do with it, to try to show the counter-argument (that her mother had misjudged her).  There isn't a right answer to it, I want the reader to decide what they think, so I should never have replied favouring one answer over the other.  I don't.  I completely agree with you, and I think your instincts here are really on the ball. 
I, too, love the fact that you can think you know what is going on, and when you see that someone else has a different perspective, you want to figure out why theirs was different to yours.  Yes, that is exactly what I like!
Thanks for your post
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams

Dear Poppy_Adams,
Thank you for your response to me.  The one thing that struck me first is the fact that you are right about how as Americans we perceive things so much differently than they do in England.  Where we once took people as they are, "we" now attach labels to their differences.  Also age makes a big difference in perceptions, and what we think you meant.  I loved the fact that throughout the book, you "made" us come to our own conclusions, whether that was the intent or not.  Could it have been Clive? Or was it really Ginny the whole time?  The one passage in your book that I will always keep in my mind every time I read this book (because I will re-read it) was from Chapter 16 on page 176, where Ginny said "....I know memories shouldn't be trusted, that two people's recall of the same event can be unbelievably different that even their perceptions at the time can be paradoxical."  In that context, this book is just like that, your readers too, all have different perceptions of what your intent or meaning is or should be.  Thank you again for such a great thought provocative book.  I am looking forward to your next book.   Thank you too for the time you took to respond to all our questions 
Jeanne G aka Bearsstar
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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



paula_02912 wrote:
 
 
Oh sometimes I ask questions of the authors because I want to see if there responses would be anything like what I thought they should be...thanks again...



Dear Paula
I'd do just the same, so I like that!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



HannibalCat wrote:
Hi Poppy,
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I loved the comparison of the life of moths with the life of humans, in particular this group of rather peculiar humans. I found the Maculinea larva scene in the churchyard profoundly indicative of what went on within Ginny (after I had finished the book)- so much so that I went back and reread the pages. The reference to her emergence as she found herself at peace in the hospital/prison after wreaking such havoc on her sister, and the life of the larva as moving on with no knowledge or burden of guilt was brilliant. What a way to tie it all together!

I look forward to reading more of your books.

Thank you HannibalCat for your lovely posting!


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



no4daughter wrote:
Dear Ms. Adams:
 
Thank you so much for allowing us to have an early read of your book.  
 
I don't generally like movies that have been made of books that I have read, especially when I really like the book.  I usually feel that my imagination was much better than the filmmaker's.  Knowing that you are a documentary filmmaker, do you have the opposite reaction?  In other words, when you are used to looking at things visually, is it hard to put that vision down in written form?  If it is, you did a good job! 
 
 
 


Dear no4daughter
The two medium's are so different that with each one, my entire way of thinking is completely different and I don't seem to 'confuse' them, if you can understand that.  If I'm with a camera crew shooting a documentary, I'm thinking 'what shots do I need to cut this sequence together in the edit room'.  With documentaries you are often 'following' live action, say an operation or something, so you haven't sat down and storyboarded each shot like in a drama film.  That means you have to imagine the shots as you take them and think of the cutting sequence - make sure you have all the shots you need to make the sequence run smoothly (and also, obviously, to show the necessary points).  You are telling the story in pictures and it's only once you are back in the edit room that you write a commentary to go with them.  So, as you can see, words don't lead the story at all.  Writing a story, a novel, is so utterly different  - the two mindsets just don't overlap!  I think I see things very visually (but perhaps that's nothing to do with my film career) and I really enjoy describing those visuals in words.
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



AnnieS wrote:
Ms. Adams,
 
Thank you again, as many others have already stated for allowing us to view and review this very interesting story.  I usually like tidy endings, yet love plot twists and mysteries.  My biggest question in this story is why Viv came back.  That never really closed in my mind.  Was it because she was older and didn't wish to be alone and came home?  Did people in town such as Michael (which I doubt) have contact with her and she decided to come back because her sister was getting less dependent of herself?   It just seemed odd that even Vivi didn't seem a bit out of place stating she was coming home without invitation and without an explanation to the sister who had been there all her life.  In past posts you led to passages, can you help me out.
 
Thanks so much
Annie
 
PS:  I truly admire the fact that you have opened your work to us.  Reading the posts it must be difficult to read the negative and I know I would be very protective and my Irish emotions would be flared.  I am not sure I would have the courage to do it.  Thank you again.
 
 


Dear Annie
Thanks for your message.  I never mind negative responses if it's what the reader genuinely thinks - and there have been many posted directly to me on this thread which I have been very happy to discuss.  I think its good for me to hear them.   I think there are - very rare - instances when someone is consistently and tediously negative in a way that undermines an enjoyable debate, and stifles other peoples opinions, and that makes me feel their overriding intention is to demonstrate their own superiority or critiquing technique.  That would rile me, yes, but luckily nothing like that is happening here.  I hope you can understand that.
To your question of Viv coming home, I'm sorry to opt out of repeating it, but I have definitely answered it somewhere before in some detail, so I hope you don't mind me asking you to trawl through my posts to find it.  Sorry.
Best Wishes
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



pigwidgeon wrote:
Ms. Adams:

I am so happy to have been able to participate in the early reading of your first novel (good for you!) and this discussion. I really enjoyed "The Sister", and I do think I probably would have picked it up under either of the other titles mentioned here (especially the moth one). I tend to read mostly non-fiction, and am trying to incorporate more fiction reading into my diet. That said, I think your book was a great bridge for me between the two. I really liked the moth bits, and have referenced them enthusiastically when recommending this book to friends. I think, because of all the non-fiction reading I do, that cover and title are less important to me than the contents of the book itself.

Your way of description was truly visual. I am a great lover of film (including documentary, which I will be interested to see some of your work as well), and got such a detailed, rich experience reading the book, which was littered with beautifully presented images. Bravo!

I found the last 2 ("Tuesday" and "Today" )chapters to be my favorites, even though they were quite short. The way that Ginny fells about her "departure" from her home, especially the interaction with Michael, and her contented description of her new "home", were so telling. I found myself sympathizing with Ginny quite a bit throughout the book, and I am glad that you were able to introduce such a complex character for our enjoyment.

Lastly, your attention to this book club (reading some of our previously posted discussions, which were quite in depth and lengthy, and taking the time to thoroughly, and thoughtfully, respond to many of our members' questions) is very much appreciated, and wonderful in itself. Time is a commodity that very few people feel they have enough of (I wonder what Ginny would say about that :smileywink:), and I feel as though I have spent mine wisely with the discussions here, and reading your novel. I wish you much success with the launch of your book, and whatever your current endeavors are..... Thanks, sincerely.

You are very kind pigwidgeon and I thank you very much.  I have to admit I'm a little nervous about publication now.  I'm not sure my defences are ready.  People forget how 'new' new authors feel!
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Margaret42 wrote:
Poppy,
Thank you for letting us read this book in advance, it was well worth it.  I only have one comment and that is when I began chapter 20 "About Monday" and I realized what Ginny had done, I was completely blindsided.  I find with many books you become lulled by the story, the tone and the pace and can sort of anticipate what may happen.  When I have to sit up, and say "oh wow did I skip a page?" I like it, because it makes the story memorable and to me it means the writer has refreshingly "stepped outside of the box"
 
Thanks again,
Margie


I think I've had more people say they are shocked when, once they think she's done it, it turns out she hasn't!!  You know the bit when she's outside (the dead) Vivi's door eyeing up the clock, and then Vivi speaks.  Or did you guess that one?
 
I know what you mean with About Monday though. When I came to writing it, having had a long chapter that was more like her stream of consciousness, it felt like I needed to jolt the story abit, jump forward with a revelation and then explain how we got there.  It needed a change of mood / pace.
Thanks for your comments
Poppy


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Re: Questions for Poppy Adams



Poppy_Adams wrote:


 I have to admit I'm a little nervous about publication now.  I'm not sure my defences are ready.  People forget how 'new' new authors feel!
Poppy


You will be great, Poppy! Just take those deep breaths, hang on to the smiles of your children, and trust in your writing. And know that many of us await your next book. :smileywink:

 
DonnaS =) " Reading is a means of thinking with another person's mind; it forces you to stretch your own." Charles Scribner
"A book is like a garden carried in the pocket." Chinese Proverb
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