The latest novel
from Jeannette Walls, author of the best-
selling memoir The Glass Castle (seven years and counting on The New York Times best-seller list), The Silver Star is a coming-of-age story set in 1970 about two half sisters, Liz and Bean, who return to their family’s faded Virginia plantation to live with their uncle after their mother abandons them.
While its off-kilter artistic mother and rural Southern setting echo her earlier hit, the novel tells a very different story about a town caught up in the civil rights movement and how the family’s past haunts the girls.
The novel does a great job capturing its time and place--a rural mill town hard hit by job losses from overseas competitors and the upheavals of the civil rights movement and echoing the concerns of great Southern writers like William Faulkner, James Agee and Harper Lee.
Walls, 53, spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about making the transition to fiction and hearing casting rumors involving Jennifer Lawrence.
THR: In some ways, The Silver
Star will remind readers of
The Glass Castle.
Walls: The sort of fiction I’m drawn to is close to real life; it’s not orcs and Hobbits and stuff — my brain doesn’t work that way. I’m an observer and digger trying to cobble together a story that I hoped felt real and would make people ask questions about issues in the same way I had hoped The Glass Castle would.
But the themes are different here.
What do you do when the
bullies come after you?
Do you fight back or take it
on the chin? No matter
what, you’re gonna regret it at some level ’cause you’re gonna get hit on the chin or elsewhere. That’s the way
Bean felt. Did she make the right decision [to confront
the bully]? Honestly, I don’t know.
Will we see a movie version?
I don’t want to jinx myself. It would be easier than Glass Castle. Silver Star takes place over a year, with a clear beginning, middle and end.
How goes work on The Glass Castle film?
With any memoir, you’ve got this incredible span of time. How many actors do you want in the lead role? How many jumps in time? Truly brilliant people are working on it
[The Blind Side and Life of Pi’s Gil Netter is producing, and
Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s Marti Noxon is writing the screenplay], and I think they’ve solved the challenges.
Now it looks like Jennifer Lawrence will play you.
How about that! I wondered, how could someone so gorgeous play some poor-white-trash ragamuffin from West Virginia? Then I read she had been bullied as a kid, and a lightbulb went off: We have more in common than we realize. She’s been able to tap into that for these performances as this tough chicky-poo who also has this vulnerability. I also heard that her amazing mom said to her, “You have to read this.” As awestruck as I am by Jennifer, I want to meet her mom.