Eleanor Catton

Literary Birthday – 24 September – Eleanor Catton

Happy Birthday, Eleanor Catton, born 24 September 1985.


  1. Teaching is a great complement to writing. It’s very social and gets you out of your own head. It’s also very optimistic. It renews itself every year – it’s a renewable resource.
  2. I much prefer a plotted novel to a novel that is really conceptual.
  3. Writers of literary fiction would do well to read more books for children.
  4. When I was writing The Luminaries, I read a lot of crime novels because I wanted to figure out which ones made me go, ‘Ah! I didn’t know that was coming!’
  5. I see disappointment as something small and aggregate rather than something unified or great. With a little effort, every failure can be turned into something good.
  6. I think that you have to keep the reader front and centre if you’re going to write something that people are going to love and be entertained by.
  7. What I like about fiction most is that it resists closure and exists, if the reader is willing to engage, as a possible encounter – an encounter that is like meeting a human being.
  8. I think that’s what fiction writing is actually all about. It’s about trying to solve problems in creative ways.
  9. I believe really strongly in imitation, actually: I think it’s the first place you need to go to if you’re going to be able to understand how something works. True mimicry is actually quite difficult.
  10. In principle, a workshop is such a beautiful idea – an environment in which writers who are collectively apprenticed to the craft of writing can come together in order to collectively improve.
  11. The illusion of depth in a character is created simply by withholding information from an audience. A character will seem complex and intriguing only if we don’t know the reasons why.
  12. Remember that anybody who is clever enough to set you free is clever enough to enslave you.

Eleanor Catton is a New Zealand author. Her second novel, The Luminaries, won the 2013 Man Booker Prize.

Source for Image


NZatFrankfurt, CC BY 2.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 24th September 2014