Time Plus News

Breaking News, Latest News, World News, Headlines and Videos

How the writer Isabel Allende writes "Gave me a voice when I had no voice"

If anyone knows what it takes to capture the attention of readers, it’s Isabel Allende. The 80-year-old author has filled more than two dozen books with passionate and daring characters, selling more than 74 million copies, translated into nearly 40 languages. “I have books in my head, letters in my soul, all the time,” he said. “You need crazy people, and you need people capable of doing extraordinary things out of passion or emotion or courage.”

Brewer notes, “Your women are particularly strong; they take the books.”

“Do you know any weak women, Rita?” Allende replied.

“I really don’t like it!”


“The Wind Knows My Name” is the new novel by author Isabel Allende.

CBS News

Women and girls play a central role in Allende’s latest novel, “The Wind Knows My Name,” about Jewish children sent to safety by their families during World War II and separated from their parents while trying to cross into the United States. Draw parallels. “Jewish families had to make the terrible choice of sending their children alone to escape the Nazis, not knowing who would receive them on the other side,” Allende said. “And when we had this horrible policy of separating families at the border in 2018, I immediately thought about what those families went through and how history was repeating itself.”


Ballantine Books

Allende’s own history is turbulent. His father abandoned the family when he was three, and his mother had to return to her parents’ home in Santiago, Chile. “She wasn’t trained to work,” Allende said, “because she belonged to a social class and a generation where women didn’t work. She was stuck.”

Braver asked, “You didn’t want to be like the women you saw around you; did you know that in your heart at a very young age?”

“I wanted to be like my grandfather, who had a car, who had the keys to the house, who had the money, who made all the decisions. I wanted to be him,” she replied.

“How did the family react to you?”

“I was crazy!” Allende laughed. “I was kicked out of the nunnery at the age of six, so it wasn’t an easy childhood, as you can imagine!”

She is married and has two children, but has always worked – as a TV personality, journalist and school administrator.

“Have you ever thought, ‘I might actually want to be a writer,'” Brewer asked.

“I was afraid to say it,” Allende replied. “I never thought I could. There were no role models. The great writers in Latin America were all men.”

Then, in 1973, his world was turned upside down as the Chilean military seized power from the elected government of his cousin, Salvador Allende. “My country changed in 24 hours,” he said. “Try to imagine, in the United States, what it would be like if armed forces attacked democratic institutions, (and) the president died in a coup.

“And then I learned I was on a blacklist. I got out.”

He and his family will flee to Venezuela. “I was feeling very unhappy, very depressed. I was going to be 40 soon. And my grandfather was dying in Chile, and I started a letter to say goodbye to my grandfather.”

The letter would become Allende’s first book, “The House of the Spirits”. Published in 1982, it is a fictionalized account of his own family, Chile’s oppressive class system, and the terror of a military coup. The novel became an international sensation, often called one of the most important books of the 20th century.

“How did the success of ‘House of the Spirits’ change your life?” asked Brewer.

“It gave me a voice when I had no voice,” Allende said. “I realized this is what I wanted to do.”

Her life would change in other ways as well, as she left her first marriage and Latin America. He has lived in California since 1987. Asked why he moved there, Allende said, “Because I fell for a man’s lust. Came, he was living here, we got married, married for 28 years.”

But Allende’s second marriage ended in divorce in 2015. She never thought she would fall in love again, yet in 2019, she married attorney Roger Kukras.

And he’s comfortable talking about his own sexuality. In his 2021 book “The Soul of a Woman,” he wrote: “By candlelight, I can fool a deranged man who has had three glasses of wine, is not wearing his glasses, and is not intimidated by a woman who takes the initiative.”

Is it true? “It’s true,” Allende said, “and some marijuana helps too. Marijuana is blueberries. A blueberry, and you can have great sex. I shouldn’t actually say that on camera, because I know Roger’s kids will hear it!”

And though he may be milder, Allende is still grieving the 1992 death of his daughter, Paula Frias, at age 29 after an attack of porphyria, a hereditary blood disorder. “He got the wrong medicine, suffered severe brain damage and died a year later,” Allende said.

Proceeds from Allende’s bestselling book about her daughter, “Paula,” helped launch a foundation (now run by Allende’s son, Nico, and his wife) that supports groups trying to help at-risk young women around the world. “If you can save a few of these little girls, I feel rewarded,” she said.

He continues to feel rewarded by his writing. With no plans to retire, he comes to his office every weekday, where he sits at the computer with a lit candle, thinking and writing, usually in Spanish.

“Is writing still difficult for you, or does it just flow?” asked Brewer.

“Yes, the process is always difficult, but I know now, which I did not know before, that if I spend enough time, I will be able to do it.”

And about the impact of Isabel Allende’s books on her readers, works that often deal with injustice and suffering?

“Do you think, when people read your work, it can make a difference?” Brewer asked.

“It can happen,” Allende replied. “But I can’t put those ideas into anybody’s head. I don’t change people. I just make people understand who they are.”

Read an excerpt: “The Wind Knows My Name” by Isabel Allende

For more information:

Story created by John Goodwin. Editor: Remington Corper.


Source link