Bonnie Garmus, the most read novelist: “I wrote my first book at the age of 60”

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Elizabeth Zott, the protagonist of this original novel, is a single mother and has become a television star as the host of a cooking show. But her success teaches him the dark side of her, since as he Her popularity increases, so do her male detractors.scared and outraged to see how Elizabeth is provoking women to defy social rules and question their place in the world.

The “mother” of this singular protagonist is called Bonnie Garmus and was born in Seattle, “a city where it rains practically all the time. Since I live in London I am happy because I see more of the sun than in my hometown.”, he states during the interview we do in , ​​where he arrives to sign books on Sant Jordi’s day. Blonde, with a deeply blue look and a wide smile that she displays throughout the talk, it is clear from her athletic complexion and her energetic attitude that Sport plays a crucial role in their daily lives.copy writer and technical writer for medical, scientific and technological companies, came to literature with the purpose of denunciation after sixty years. And she did it through the front door.

His dog’s name is 99. Because 98 wins?
Yeah, I wrote my first novel when I was 60 years old.. When I finished it, I submitted it to 97 publishers, and received 97 rejections. Response 98 was from a literary agent who complimented me on my narrative style and encouraged me to continue writing. Her advice was to start another novel, but not to have 1000 pages like the first one. That was the reason why I decided to write chemistry lessons.
Yours is an exceptional case. It is not common to publish for the first time at the age of 64 and become a publishing phenomenon.
I know, and it is not easy for me to digest everything that has happened to me. I have worked hard all my life, and I never thought I could pay for a dream vacation with my husband and daughters with the profits from my novel. But, apart from this, I continue to follow the same rhythm as before, I work the same schedule as when I worked as a copy writer, only now those hours are dedicated to me: I promote chemistry lessons and I write my next novel. We live in the same house and I continue to play sports and see my usual friends.
Have rowing and swimming taught you to be perseverant and disciplined?
Sport builds character, There’s no doubt. I started swimming when I was 5 years old and I have never stopped. I swam a lot in pools, but I got a hankering for it: water contains many chemical components and the constant coming and going seems horribly monotonous to me. I started swimming in open water, mainly in lakes, and it gives me great mental clarity. I’m not a fast swimmer, but I enjoy concentrating on my strokes, it’s like a meditative practice. And at the age of 30 I started rowing, and I have participated in many competitions. I like it a lot, it is a sport that you can practice throughout your life. One of my rowing buddies is 93 years old and he is in great shape.
Elizabeth Zott, the protagonist of chemistry lessons, Is it your alter ego?
Not quite. It is a model created by me with which I reflect situations that I experienced in my work. The problems she experiences and the characters she encounters are real, but she is a fiction. and for me it is an example of a woman: brave, fighter, resilient, imaginative, strong. She has great qualities and an exemplary attitude..
But to what extent is your novel autobiographical?
When I was a child I lived with my parents and siblings in a small house on the outskirts of the city. Our neighbors were families like ours, with fathers dedicated to work and mothers who took care of their homes and children. I remember those ladies with great admiration and also with respect and compassion: they were like my mother. Intelligent, prepared, educated and hardworking. But they had had to play a role in life, and they accepted it with resignation. There was great misogyny in the social environment in which I grew up but, curiously, there was not that same feeling the other way around, that is, from women towards men. I doubt that women of my mother’s generation were happy being relegated to the domestic sphere. My book is a tribute to all those women who had to conform to being only mothers and wives, not by their own decision, but because society somehow demanded it of them..
But your mother set a good example for you and your three brothers.
Yes, she was a very vocational nurse, and she left her job when she had her first child. She very often told us about how much she had liked her profession. When we grew up, she retrained and returned to work as a nurse and her return to the workplace made her very happy.

Is there a specific situation that you have experienced that is reflected in the book?
Yes, several. For example, there was an occasion when I gave a presentation for a very important campaign in front of ten or twelve male executives. When I finished my presentation, none of them asked me any questions or comments, nor praised my work. Then the vice president of the company took the stage and talked about all the concepts and ideas that I had presented in my presentation, as if they were his own. And they were very well accepted. That day I made the decision to write my work experiences in the form of a novel.
Would you say that change is the great theme of your novel?
Yes, society needs to change. We put a lot of emphasis on the rules that bring order to our society, but they are merely social rules that have very little common sense. Many things must change so that women are fully integrated into professional life.. We are as competent, as intelligent and as capable as men, and we are just as well prepared. The thing about the weaker sex is a pure invention and, as such, it has to be banished from our lives. We were made to believe that invention, and many women continue to live with that belief. My goal is to help them banish that idea and convince themselves that they have great capacity and strength.
We have achieved great changes. Is there still a long way to go?
It is true that a lot of progress has been made. Now in Western countries a woman does not need permission from a father or husband to have a passport or a bank account. But… Have we achieved equality? Obviously not. Who occupies the majority of management positions in companies? They are almost always men.
He has been away from his country, the States, for fifteen years. How do you see her social evolution?
With a lot of concern and a certain disappointment. Now they have repealed the right to abortion, and in Arizona they have recovered a law from 1884. I disagree with this opinion about women’s bodies. We must pay close attention to this, especially for the good of our daughters and the following generations. Thinking that Trump will run again and could be elected again makes me afraid and ashamed at the same time…
Where is feminism going?
In the USA I don’t see that feminism is on the right track, while in the Nordic countries, for example, women have a higher status and society is more egalitarian. He future of feminism It will be brilliant if we get to consider that the brains of women and men are equalwith the same capabilities and skills.
Have men enjoyed your book?
In the United States there is a great tradition of reading clubs, and they are mostly female. But for about 15 years, male ones have proliferated. I have received emails and letters from many men who have read my novel, and enjoyed it. Many of them even tell me that Thanks to my book they have understood their daughters better.
To what extent have you been involved in the series that has been made about your novel?
I did not participate in the script of the series inspired by my book, I would have liked, but it wasn’t like that, I couldn’t intervene. And what I have been able to verify when watching the series is that the Elizabeth Zott that appears in it is not the Elizabeth Zott of my novel. The producers were more interested in the sentimental and romantic aspect of the character, and they focused on that.
What can you tell us about your new novel, will it also be an ode to feminism?
I am superstitious and I don’t like to talk about projects. I can tell you that I am really enjoying the writing process and that every night I dream about one of my characters. And what appears to me in my dreams I usually incorporate it into my text the next day…
How do you feel, at sixty-something?
Better than ever. I have good health, a lot of energy, a desire to work and an extraordinary experience. Besides, I feel freer and with fewer inhibitions on my back. I think companies should have teams made up of mature people and young people, we contribute a lot to each other. And, as for the physical taboos of “ageism”, I think that now it is finally beginning to be considered that A mature woman can be as attractive and interesting as a mature man.. Until recently, women who were no longer fertile became invisible, while mature men were considered handsome and interesting. One more injustice…
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