The Glass Castle
Author: Jeanette Walls
How long were you thinking of writing it and once you decided, how long did the writing process take?
JW: I thought about writing it for close to 20 years. I tried to write it fictionalized, but I couldn’t even make fake names of people. Periodically, I’d write about 200 pages in a weekend and throw it all away without even reading it. What happened is, the opening scene in the book pushed me into thinking, “I should really write this.”
Do you blame your mom for not doing more to help you?
JW: Mom, and I’m not blaming mom, I never in my life genuinely heard her try to get my father to stop drinking. On some level, she enjoyed the chaos of it. Some readers' insights have blown me away. One reader said, look at the point your mother decided to move to
The idea of the role reversal is very interesting, how can you not hate your mother?
JW: When people ask, how can you not hate your mother? She’s very childlike in some ways, but intellectually, she’s incredibly sophisticated; sometimes she just blows me away. We were there the other day with someone from the London Observer, and she said “Oh, I’ve heard of you, you’re based in
From talking to you, it seems that you were able to find the good things within that and ability to…I don’t know about forgiveness—do you feel like it’s a matter of forgiving him?
JW: That’s an excellent question. First let me just say, that’s the trick for us all, isn’t it? It’s finding the good and being able to leave the bad behind. It’s not even a matter of forgiveness because that implies, I think that’s sort of a judgmental way of saying it. “Forgive” means that they’ve sort of hurt me and damaged me. I think it’s more a matter of accept because I’ve had the life I’ve had and nothing is going to change that, it wasn’t so bad, and nothing is going to change that.
According to the book, you fell down, but you parents didn’t come to help you, they said that you would learn from you mistakes. Would you have liked them more if they were caring?
JW: I thought that they are good just as is. I think this because I did learn from what I do, even if it means for me to get hurt, somehow I end up learning something from that point. If they did change then I would not really learn about all the other types of things that I know today. Some of those things are use in the book, and I do mention that even today I would really be nothing without them. Overall I think that it is better if they stay as is.
When you were young you lived through poverty, do you think that you would be better of rich?
JW: No, I think that it is better if you are happy more than if you are rich, because if we were rich then we would probably fuss over all the money. Since we were not the rich we still had happiness which made our family stick together through anything that came in our way. If I were rich I also think that I might not have wrote the book, because when writing you have to keep in mind that you have to have some problems and when you are rich nothing that interesting really happens.
Did you like living in the desert?
JW: I know my mother liked living in the desert, and that we would be okay in the desert. I also think that the most interesting reason I like the desert is because I like staring at the stars at the night and also feeling the sand between my feet, overall I like the landscape of the desert too.
What do you think your father would have thought of The Glass Castle?
JW: I don’t know. That’s an interesting question, one I’ve asked myself many times. I couldn’t have written the book when Dad was alive because I believe that some aspects of it would have hurt him, but my brother Brian – who’s incredibly wise about people – thinks Dad would have loved The Glass Castle. “Praise him or curse him, Dad didn’t care,” Brian said, “as long as you’re saying his name.”
What do you believe is the overall message readers should take away from The Glass Castle?
JW: Life is what you make of it. Every situation is filled with both blessings and curses, and it’s entirely up to us which ones we choose to focus on.