It’s a great time for fans of the A Wrinkle In Time. Not only is there an upcoming big-screen adaptation (with Ava DuVernay at the helm), L’Engle’s adult fiction has come to ebook for the first time.
In honor of the releases, Early Bird Books checked in with Madeleine L’Engle’s granddaughters, Charlotte Jones Voiklis and Lena Roy, to talk about the author's incredible breadth of work. Though most famous for A Wrinkle in Time, L'Engle wrote more than 60 books of various genres—including science fiction, historical fiction, memoirs, and plays. Read on to get a behind-the-scenes look at the iconic author.
First of all, A Wrinkle in Time is for adults too.
Charlotte Jones Voiklis: While most people think of Madeleine L’Engle as a children’s writer, she hated that classification.
Lena Roy: She said it both put her in a box and condescended to children. The suggestion is that you write differently for children than for adults, and this is simply not the case.
CJV: "If it’s not good enough for adults, it’s not good enough for children," she always said. When A Wrinkle in Time was having a hard time finding a publisher and she was asked, "Who is this book for? Adults or children?" she would answer…
LR: "..It’s for people! Don’t people read books?" Actually, she always just wrote what was in her heart.
On The Small Rain...
LR: After Wrinkle, this was my favorite book of hers that I read over and over again, obsessed with the protagonist, Katherine. It was her first novel, and she wrote it while trying to make it as a playwright in New York City. She told us stories of writing it on trains and in hotel rooms when she was on tour in a production of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard. I loved that it spanned so many years because then I could envision my own small self growing up.
CJV: This is the first book of hers that I really remember reading. I loved reading about Katherine’s growing up, and I tried to figure out what incidents were autobiographical.
CJV: I only read this a few years ago and I was blown away! She always told me not to bother with it, that it was a “typical second novel,” needed more editing, etc. Now I understand that the portrait she painted of this Southern family hit a little too close to home and was painful for her mother. She regretted that.
LR: This was first envisioned as a play when she was 22 years old and rewritten multiple times before turning into a novel. The dialogue is just biting! The main character is someone she admired as being full of honor and stoicism. She wrote it for Eva LeGalienne, one of the foremost actors of her day. Eventually they were to meet, but Miss Le G never performed it.
On The Other Side of the Sun...
LR: Oh there’s so much for L’Engle fans here—an adult protagonist, the Civil war, literary games with a dash of magical realism!
CJV: This is another take on family secrets and dynamics.
On Certain Women...
CJV: This is a really ambitious book, structurally, as it tells a modern story of a larger-than-life actor and his various wives and children, from his daughter’s point of view.
LR: She structured it around the story of the biblical King David.
On A Live Coal in the Sea...
CJV: Like A Severed Wasp, this novel picks up with Camilla Dickinson, eponymous protagonist of a 1951 young adult novel, as an adult whose marriage is unhappy, and traumatic events of the past have to be reckoned with.
LR: This one has a lovely grandmother/ granddaughter relationship in it, even if all of the other one’s are fraught.
Charlotte and Lena recently finished a middle grade biography focused on Madeleine’s early life called Becoming Madeleine L’Engle: A Biography by her Granddaughters. It will be released through FSG in February 2018.
Want more from authors like Madeleine L'Engle? Sign up for the Early Bird Books newsletter and get the best daily ebook deals delivered straight to your inbox.