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In Dark Water

The Ballantine
Publishing Group

August 1998; May 1999

Interview With the Ballantine Reader’s Circle

Page 1

 
 

Q:

How did the idea for this novel begin?

MB:

One day while I was working in the garden, a new voice came to me—immediate, urgent, delicate. I recognized it right away—it was Eudora, a forty-year-old character in my first novel, now visiting me as a small girl, a ten-year-old. I ran in and started writing. But even though Dorrie’s voice was extremely compelling and it obviously had a story it was trying to squeeze out, it was also elusive. Dorrie was hiding, very wary, as if she didn’t trust me yet. When I tried to face her voice directly and capture it, it would sneak away.

I had a few “facts” that I knew from my first novel, Same Blood—that Dorrie had had trouble with her mother and that she had run away to Beulah’s. But I didn’t know why. What would have driven such a young babe out of her house? I kept writing “backwards,” trying to uncover the layers underneath their mutual pain. With each layer, I got closer to being inside Dorrie’s body. Then the image came of Dorrie squeezing her dead brother’s toe. That was it, the catalyst. Dorrie’s fist. Dorrie’s delicate but forceful soul forming itself around her brother’s death. Once I knew about David, Florence started to make sense and came into focus. Then I could begin to write “forwards,” still into the dark toward what I did not know, but the story could now unfold.

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