This week’s Author of the Week is Curtis Sittenfeld sharing her excellent new read ‘Rodham’, a fiction book grounded in facts that poses the question, what would Hillary Clinton’s life be like if she did not marry Bill? Sittenfeld talks “putting on her pantsuit & her blonde wig” & diving deep into Hillary Rodham Clinton’s life, from American politics, sexism, Bill, the Ivy League & life in the White House. This is like an all access pass into the brilliant mind of Sittenfeld as she answers all your burning questions on the book… from public scandals, elections to writing about car sex with political icons. So buckle up, because like the book ‘Rodham’ – this chat is packed with information & will have you hooked up to the very end.
The plot: Bill Clinton proposed to Hillary Rodham twice & the third time she said ‘yes’. Although the premise of the book is the question; what if Hillary didn’t say ‘yes’ the third time, how would her life had turned out, where would she be? And what state would the United States of America be in if this marriage did not go ahead? Jam packed with facts, but in a fictional backdrop, Sittenfeld’s response to this question provides a deeply fascinating look into the world of Hillary Rodham Clinton.
What’s in this chat?
- “There’s a part of me that did not know how hard it was going to be.” says Sittenfeld on the challenges faced writing about White House politics with fiction & fact.
- “The stuff that was possible to get right, I got right.” Sittenfeld on getting the facts right, regardless of how the fiction is perceived.
- Sittenfeld on facing the positive & negative feedback.
- “I do admire & respect Hillary” says Sittenfeld “she’s dealt with a lot of criticism and sexism over the years.”
- Sittenfeld on writing ‘American Wife,’ the fictionalised book on Laura Bush’s life.
- “The question was, not what do the American people think of Hillary. But what does Hillary think of the American people?” Sittenfeld on the short story that sparked it all.
- What if adults didn’t think of Hillary and Bill as such a combined unit during the presidential election? Would it have changed the outcome?
- Sittenfeld on “putting on her pantsuit & her blonde wig” & embodying Hillary’s voice in the first person during the writing process.
- The early years of meeting Bill Clinton & the handsome, charming character he was in their years of courtship & Sittenfeld’s process formulating these years with limited information from only Bill’s memoir & Hillary’s two autobiographies.
- Car sex. How do you write about two political icons having sex in a car?
- Sittenfeld on her ability to capture both appealing & repelling elements of Bill Clinton.
- Sittenfeld on diving into the theme of sexism & the sense that “clever girls should be told to be quiet & leave the room”.
- Women running for elective office versus males running for elective office.
- The public’s appetite for scandals.
- The Ivy League & class system that plays throughout the United States & the shoulder rubbing in Rodham.
- The Anita Hill sexual assault case. Sittenfeld on Anita’s position as a young, successful black woman facing the panel of powerful white men.
- Cameos from Donald Trump. “I was very clinical trying to capture his voice.” says Sittenfeld.
- Sittenfeld on the true message of Rodham.
- The pervasiveness of sexism in the United States.
- The next female president? Predictions for the future.