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In Dark Water

The Ballantine
Publishing Group

August 1998; May 1999

Interview With the Ballantine Reader’s Circle

Page 2

 

Q:

The story takes place between the years 1958 and 1959. Why did you choose this time period?

MB:

The time period was purely logistical—one of the givens because Dorrie (Doro) was forty in 1988 in Same Blood. But I felt close to that time anyway. And for months, my family had to listen to a lot of radio tapes from the late fifties. All those jingles! And such melodrama in the music—Harvey and The Moonglows, The Platters. It was great to watch anybody who had been a teenager back then listening to those songs—they’d invariably start crooning away.

 

Q:

Throughout the novel, Eudora is intrigued by animals and seeks solace in and identification with them. In what ways do you believe that a child’s intuition is similar to that of an animal’s? How do you think these instincts change as we become adults?

MB:

Let me tell you a story. I knew pretty early on that Dorrie loved snakes. (That’s funny, my husband said, when you talk about her voice, it’s just like a snake in the grass—here, gone, just a flash.) Still, I was sort of waiting for a snake to come into the book. One day one did, ring-necked with a bright yellow collar. After writing, I walked out the back door and there on the mat in front of me was a baby snake, the smallest thing! And it had a bright yellow collar. It was dead but perfectly intact. I had never actually seen one until then, and there it was. What an offering!

But back to your question. I think part of the reason Dorrie fascinated me was that her vision is very “primitive,” instinctual, and therefore close to the animal soul. The

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