I went to a reading last Saturday by Audrey Niffenegger from her graphic novel, The Night Bookmobile. It was a treat to hear her in person. I am a big fan of The Time Traveler's Wife, and I've always wondered about the genius behind the book.
The Night Bookmobile is about a woman who periodically encounters a bookmobile (always late at night) that contains every book she's ever read. She searches for the bookmobile and its kindly but distant librarian everywhere she goes, but she only finds it on rare occasions. When she does, she is happy and at peace - but what does the bookmobile mean, and why is it so elusive?
The Night Bookmobile shows Niffenegger's macabre side (which was always present in The Time Traveler's Wife), as well as her love of literature and reading. It's a quick but memorable read. It also showcases her considerable artistic talents – she has a degree in printmaking – through her drawings, which convey the loneliness of the narrator and the shadowy, nocturnal mood of the book.
After her reading, Niffenegger stuck around for a Q&A:
Inspiration for The Night Bookmobile? The Night Bookmobile was originally a short story that became a comic. She was inspired by an H.G. Wells story, The Door in the Wall, about a kid who discovers a garden with panthers, fairies and magical creatures. She calls The Night Bookmobile a story about "the perils of reading too much" and admits that she "can find the dark side in pretty much anything I write about" and that she "has a bad habit of killing her characters".
Did you like the movie version of The Time Traveler's Wife compared to the book? Niffenegger hasn't seen the movie version, an act which she calls "cowardly". She read the script and felt that the film people were getting at something different from what she was. Writers have an advantage over screenwriters, who are trying to create a map for filmmakers to fill out. She recommends that screenwriters adapt short stories rater than novels so they don't have to smoosh an entire book into a screenplay. (She is writing the screenplay for Her Fearful Symmetry herself.)
Librarians play a large role in your books. Have any in particular inspired you? Many, and teachers too. There are a lot of librarians in The Time Traveler's Wife who are real people at the Newberry Library in Chicago.
Thank you to Audrey Niffenegger for stopping by!