Audrey Niffenegger talks to Sarah Crompton

Audrey Niffenegger, probably best known for her novel The Time Traveller’s Wife, tells us all about her other life as a graphic novelist, artist and professor of art – which has recently resulted in her recent work, The Raven Girl, being transformed into a ballet by Wayne McGregor. 

 
She had always carried the character of Raven Girl around in her head, and the novel/ballet she tells us is a ‘transformation fairy tale’, where the girl believes she is part raven and wishes to become one. Fairy tales, as we know, are where belief is suspended, no characters are ever surprised about anything that happens, a bit like a dream according to Niffenegger. 
 
She also described the intricate and time consuming process of creating a graphic novel, and tells us how her illustrations are there to add an extra dimension to the story, rather than to reflect the actual narrative on the page. It’s hard to imagine how this could be turned into a ballet, but she told us how she was amazed at what McGregor has managed to achieve. The music was composed by Gabriel Yared, who won an Oscar for the score of The English Patient. 
 
We were then treated to an insight into her new book, which had been put on the back burner for a few years while The Raven Girl being created; The Chinchilla Girl in Exile. The story of a girl who has a condition which means her body is covered in hair, and instead of being an outsider, is revered by her village. It explores the relationships she has with two childhood friends, Sylvie (who believes she is half fairy) and Max who is an ordinary boy who will grow up to be an artist. 
 
Niffenegger’s novels always have a very creative and unusual dimension, Sarah Crompton observed, we look forward to the ballet and the new novel! 
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Packing it all in….

 
It’s always the same at Hay, the first day on tour. Somehow I always manage to have far too many events to see, with barely a moment to fit in a comfort break, grab a sandwich or even have time to write up reviews of my events which is what I’m supposed to be doing. It’s all part of the excitement of being here at Hay for another year of seeing authors, commentators, comedians and musicians to name but a few. There is something here for everyone! 
 
Melvyn Bragg talked about his new book Grace and Mary, drawing parallels with his own family life; old friends Hugh Dennis and Marcus Brigstock chatted about who had the most ‘normal’ school before Hugh told us about his new book, Britty Britty Bang Bang. In it he muses on a post Olympic and post Jubilee Britain: ‘this is brilliant’ ‘this is fantastic’ ‘who is that?’and ‘did we do that?’ it was then a quick dash to see twitter queen and women’s champion Caitlin Moran, who talks at the speed of a runaway train, so I could not do her justice here by trying to review her slot. Suffice to say, her book How to be a Woman is now on my reading list. 
 
Phill Jupitus was off the wall in his new show, masquerading as a German Submarine captain who died in 1945, projected into the future to talk to us about his life. After an audible murmur from the audience (should we really be laughing about this, is it ok?) questions were plentiful, the answers suitable random and funny. A show in two parts, the second consisted of a hologram (!) in the form of Phillip Jupitus who dies in 2052 and is projected back to us to reflect on his life – this was a unique and very funny show, a world away from his Live at the Apollo set, relying heavily on improvisation. 
 
We then hurried over to see KT Tunstall perform songs from her new album. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a voice with such haunting clarity and perfect tone, her new songs are quite beautiful. The biggest cheer of the night went to the upbeat number, Black Horse and the Cherry Tree. Her new album is now on my shopping list, I think she gained many new fans tonight.