It's really not just her this-is-so-beautiful-I-have-to-stop-reading-to-catch-my-breath prose, it's the delicious payoff of the story she weaves and the layers of her characters. Her writing seems to be subtle and loud at the same time (remember the scene with the letter--I'm still dying over it). And I may never understand the secret to how this is accomplished...
But here is what I learned about her from her signing:
- She takes years and years and years to write a book. There is no NaNoWriMo for Donna Tartt. In the case of The Goldfinch: eleven years. She said she often dreams of finishing a novel in five years, but it never works that way for her. (So seriously, everyone, stop beating yourself up over that novel that seems to be taking forever.)
- She really dislikes copy edits. She's a STET everything kind of writer. And I imagine if had worked on something for eleven years I would be too.
- When she writes a new story the first thing that comes to her mind is a mood and the setting, the characters, even the plot, all follow this initial mood she wanted to emulate. She listens to a lot of Elliot Smith when she writes, go figure.
- While working on a new project, she never gives presentations or talks. Unless she's just finished writing a book, she doesn't feel she has anything to talk about--and she doesn't like to talk about books before they're complete. (So no, she didn't mention what's next for her.)
- She warned against receiving critiques on unfinished work. She said that sometimes it can damage the whole picture, if the person critiquing picks apart things that tie-in to later parts of the story. Good advice, I think.