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In Dark Water

The Ballantine
Publishing Group

August 1998; May 1999

Interview With the Ballantine Reader’s Circle

Page 4



Dorrie says goodbye to Florence physically and returns to a life with the Tappens. But after having been initiated, in a sense, by grief, Dorrie carries her mother within her as a pernament internal figure.

And that gets to one more thing. I feel Dorrie’s traumatic year is about initiation, not victimhood, and certainly not about abuse or living in a dysfunctional family. It is about a girl who follows each gesture of her soul no matter how low it takes her, as it forms around grief and around the inviolable elements of life: death, love, the loss of innocence. Often, if we are not “normal,” we think we need to be cured, fixed. But families are never normal, never rational. They are, thankfully, incurable. The dark streaks that run through every family are often what the soul feeds on. They are what makes us who we are. They bring us nearer to the center of life, where the strong, deep currents run.



You’ve been praised by critics for creating such a believable and sincere voice for Eudora. Why do you think you were so successful in narrating via an eleven-year-old girl?


Just patience. It took me a while to sink into her voice. I literally felt I had to descend into her little body. And then I could feel it viscerally. Sometimes my stomach would knot up. When I wrote from her point of view, the world would come in very close and large, and I could never see far into the distance. When Dorrie speaks, she is grappling, trying to survive. Her voice carries with it an urgent necessity. I didn’t want any adult retrospect to break the spell of being inside her. But, on the other hand, I did want the reader to see beyond Dorrie, to guess at a larger truth

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