One of the best features of our Author Spotlight series is when our featured authors map a novel that has inspired them. The authors’ choices say a lot about their own writing. Who would have guessed that Hugh Howey was influenced by Battlefield Earth? Or that Mark Haskell Smith was inspired to write after reading The Talented Mr. Ripley?
This month we were pleased as punch that Susan Kietzman, our our R.J. Julia’s Author Spotlight for April, is mapping Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2009, Olive Kitteridge follows a quirky junior high math teacher who lives in a seemingly-sleepy town on the coast of Maine. However, the town of Crosby is anything but as Olive and the large cast of supporting townspeople come to realize.
The novel is one of Kietzman’s favorites, and she has great admiration for Elizabeth Strout’s writing style. “Her characters are so alive for the reader, they feel like relatives or close friends,” she says. And that makes sense. Kietzman is also known for her rich characters in The Good Life and her new novel, A Changing Marriage.
While Crosby is a fictional town, Kietzman has always had the feeling that the Strout based the small town setting on Belfast, a real town on the coast near Bangor. Many of the fictional places in the novel seem similar to real places around Belfast.
Check out Kietzman’s Olive Kitteridge map, help fill out the additional scenes and let us know how she did.