Welcome to MarieClaire.com's Q&A author series—the spot where we ask the #ReadWithMC author-of-the-month five burning questions about her latest book. In November, we're reading The Giver of Stars by New York Times best-selling author Jojo Moyes. If you're interested in the novel and looking for some friends to talk about it with, find out how to participate in MarieClaire.com's interactive monthly book club here.
If you weren't sobbing the entire time, did you even read Jojo Moyes' Me Before You (2012)? The first installment of the best-selling author's trilogy was adapted into a movie starring Emilia Clarke. Moyes' latest, The Giver of Stars, is set to receive the same treatment almost a decade later (exact release date TBD). Set in small-town 1930s Kentucky, the novel centers on a group of women, known as the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, who deliver books as part of Eleanor Roosevelt's traveling library—defying their husbands along the way. Moyes says it's her favorite book she's written yet.
"It’s very different in tone from [Me Before You and Still Me], although possibly not dissimilar to my other historical novels," explains Moyes. "I tried to capture some of the lovely lyricism of the way people speak in that part of Kentucky in my writing. But the constants—as with all my books—are probably the fact that you will laugh and maybe cry, and hopefully feel a bit of female empowerment too."
Here, Moyes explains the unlikely timeliness of the novel, and what she's most excited for about the movie adaptation.
Marie Claire: What inspired you to write The Giver of Stars?
Jojo Moyes: Most of my books are inspired by a snippet of news or conversation, and this was no different. I found an article in the Smithsonian magazine in June 2017 about the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, complete with amazing black-and-white pictures of teams of women, on horseback, preparing to take books to remote mountain communities at a time when those people might not have read anything but the Bible. It contained all of my favorite things: female friendships, horses, books, and wild country—and I knew immediately what I wanted to write.
MC: What makes your book timely? Why should people read it now?
JM: The first thing that struck me was actually how modern this story was. President Roosevelt, whose Works Progress Administration set up the plan, was concerned about families not “feeding their minds” after the Depression, and that this would leave them prey to misinformation and fundamentalism. I thought about the issues of misinformation today, and of the pushback against women’s rights, and I knew that this story would resonate on many different levels.
MC: If you could be one character in the book, who would you be?
JM: Margery. She’s such a badass. I had the most fun writing her, largely because she genuinely doesn’t care what anyone thinks of her and that’s such a rare thing for a woman.
MC: What are you most excited for about the movie adaptation?
JM: I’m not writing the screenplay for the movie adaptation, but I’m heavily involved and really looking forward to filming. If they’re not careful, I’ll sneak onto a horse and be an extra in the background. I loved writing this book more than anything I’ve ever done, and I love the women I wrote about. I hope that shows in the pages.
MC: What are you reading now? What's currently on your nightstand?
JM: I’ve just finished an amazing debut by Kiley Reid called Such a Fun Age, which is a sort of modern Jane Austen-esque take on racism and modern liberal sensibilities...except that description makes it sound far more serious and less clever than it is. She has a forensic eye.
Audio excerpted courtesy Penguin Random House Audio from The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes, read by Julia Whelan.
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