Isabel Allende: "Ripper"

Transcript for: 
Isabel Allende: "Ripper"

MS. DIANE REHM

11:06:53
Thanks for joining us. I'm Diane Rehm. Isabel Allende's books have sold more than 60 million copies worldwide, including "Maya's Notebook" and "Island beneath the Sea." Allende is known as a master of magic realism. But her latest novel is a thriller. It's set in her hometown of San Francisco. It's all about a brilliant teenage sleuth tracking a serial killer with a group of online companions.

MS. DIANE REHM

11:07:26
Her new book is titled "Ripper." And Isabel Allende joins me in the studio. Throughout the hour, you are invited to be part of the program. Give us a call at 800-433-8850. Send us an email to drshow@wamu.org. Follow us on Facebook or Twitter. It's great to see you again.

MS. ISABEL ALLENDE

11:07:53
It's great to see you, Diane. And you look fabulous. I don't know how you do it.

REHM

11:07:57
Oh.

ALLENDE

11:07:59
Gosh.

REHM

11:08:00
Isabel, you indeed look fabulous. Now, first, I understand that this book arose from your thinking about retiring.

ALLENDE

11:08:17
Yeah. I was thinking about retiring because I was tired.

REHM

11:08:21
You were tired?

ALLENDE

11:08:22
I was tired, and there was a lot of family stuff going on. And then my agent panicked because I think I supported the agency. And she said, no, no, no...

REHM

11:08:35
Well, with millions of copies, I understand that.

ALLENDE

11:08:39
She said, no, you can't retire. Write a novel with your husband. My husband is a mystery writer. And he has written several books that have been translated. And I thought, okay, I can't write a book in his genre, but I don't think he can move out of his genre. And so we decided to do that. And we started talking about it. I start all my books on Jan. 8. By Jan. 7, 19 -- I mean, 2012, we were fighting like dogs, Diane.

REHM

11:09:13
Really. Really.

ALLENDE

11:09:15
And on the 8th, I got up very early, did my meditation, run to my casita to work, and he prepared some eggs, started watching TV, you know. I realized that I was going to end up doing all the work, and he would get half the credit. So I thought, this is not very convenient for me. Also, he writes in English, and he has a span attention of 11 minutes. I write in Spanish, and I can write for 11 hours. So I thought, no, no. So he went to his room to write his sixth novel, and I went to mine to try to write my first mystery.

REHM

11:09:55
You know, it's fascinating that to bring two people together, both successful writers but with very different styles, very different approaches, doesn't work. That's all there is to it.

ALLENDE

11:10:14
I think that art in general is not something that you can do with a partner. It's very hard.

REHM

11:10:20
Exactly. Exactly.

ALLENDE

11:10:22
Because it's such -- the creative process is so organic, so personal, so intimate. How are you going to share that?

REHM

11:10:29
This novel includes a young woman, the granddaughter of a character in the book, and she is brilliant. I want you to read for us your description of this young woman because it's very vivid.

ALLENDE

11:10:54
Diane, you will have to forgive me if I stumble upon a few words because I write in Spanish, and this I didn't write.

REHM

11:10:59
I know you do. I know you do.

ALLENDE

11:11:00
This is a translation. Okay. Here we go. This is the -- my sleuth is a 17-year-old girl and a bunch of teenagers that play with her a role-playing game called "Ripper." "In January 2012, Amanda Martin was 16 and a high school senior. As an only child, Amanda had been dreadfully spoiled. But her grandfather was convinced then, when she graduated from high school and went out into the world, that would sort itself out.

ALLENDE

11:11:36
"She was vegetarian now only because she didn't have to cook for herself. When she was forced to do so, she would be less pernickety about her diet. From an early age, Amanda had been a passionate reader. With all the dangers that such a pastime entails, although the San Francisco murders, which would have been committed in any case, Amanda would not have been involved if an obsession with Scandinavian crime novels had not developed into a morbid interest in evil in general and premeditated murder in particular.

ALLENDE

11:12:11
Though her grandfather was no advocate of censorship, it worried him that Amanda was reading books like this at 14. His granddaughter put him in his place by reminding him that he was reading them, too, so all Black Jackson can do was give her a stern warning about their content, which of course made her all the more curious.

ALLENDE

11:12:35
The fact that Amanda's father was deputy chief of the homicide detail in San Francisco's personal crime division fueled her obsession. Though through him she discovered how much evil there was in this idyllic city, which could seem immune to it. But if heinous crimes happened in enlightened countries like Sweden and Norway, there was no point in expecting things to be different in San Francisco, a city founded by rapacious prospectors, polygamist preachers, and women of easy virtue all lured by the Gold Rush of the mid-19th century."

REHM

11:13:16
And, of course, there, you're referring to that brilliant Scandinavian trilogy.

ALLENDE

11:13:23
Yeah, of course, "The Millennium."

REHM

11:13:24
Exactly, "The Millennium Trilogy." And Amanda is fascinated especially because it seems as though there is a serial killer at work in San Francisco.

ALLENDE

11:13:39
Well, her godmother happens to be an astrologer, famous astrologer in San Francisco called Celeste Roko. And she has predicted a bloodbath in the city. And so Amanda wants to shame her godmother and prove that the stars have nothing to do with people's destinies. And so she starts paying attention, and then she finds out that there are -- the murders are happening, and the bloodbath is happening.

REHM

11:14:09
She is also concerned because this woman predicts that Amanda's mother is going to be one of those who dies.

ALLENDE

11:14:25
Well, it -- she will be one of the victims.

REHM

11:14:29
It's scary for Amanda. And I blame her not for pursuing this. I understand this novel was actually inspired by your own granddaughter.

ALLENDE

11:14:43
Yeah. I have a granddaughter called Andrea who, when she was 15, 16 years old, she was like Amanda. She had a hood. She was socially very awkward, very much of a nerd, playing -- always in a fantasy world and playing games. I mean, this -- I had never heard about role-playing games until I saw her playing alone in the kitchen with dice and cards. And she said, no, I'm not alone. I'm playing online with a bunch of kids.

ALLENDE

11:15:14
And the kids were in other cities. I thought, oh, this is wonderful. There's kids playing -- they were playing a game called "Ripper." And the game is about hunting Jack the Ripper in London in 1888. But if I could move the action to San Francisco 2012, I could have my sleuth. So she allowed me to play with her, and I got involved in the game. And I knew how to handle it. That was wonderful because she gave me the idea for the whole book.

REHM

11:15:53
It's -- you know, we have known that you love to write about magic realism. In a sense, this opportunity to play games via the computer with other people you've never met face to face is a new kind of magic realism.

ALLENDE

11:16:21
Absolutely. And, look, Diane, when things like holistic medicine, like aromatherapy, like astrology happen in Chile, it's called magic realism. When it happens in California, it has another name. Have you noticed? Yeah. It's -- we're always blamed for magic realism, but, here, it's just as prevalent.

REHM

11:16:45
Now, tell me, in Chile, how your last name is pronounced.

ALLENDE

11:16:51
Allende.

REHM

11:16:53
There is an L that comes through.

ALLENDE

11:16:56
Double-L is like -- it's called Allende. It's like a W (sic) in the States, like yet, like yam. That's the pronouncing of the double-L.

REHM

11:17:09
All right. So I did it correctly?

ALLENDE

11:17:12
Correctly.

REHM

11:17:13
All right. Someone said to me that there was a different pronunciation in Chile, and I wasn't sure of that.

ALLENDE

11:17:23
No. It's the same.

REHM

11:17:24
Good.

ALLENDE

11:17:24
Sometimes in some countries, the letters are pronounced more harshly. But it's the same.

REHM

11:17:30
Well, Isabel Allende...

ALLENDE

11:17:33
Perfect.

REHM

11:17:33
...is here with me, and we're talking about her new novel. It's titled "Ripper." And the San Francisco Bay Bridge is on the cover of this book.

ALLENDE

11:17:47
Mm hmm. Well, because it all happens in this wonderful city.

REHM

11:17:51
It all happens there. How long have you been living there?

ALLENDE

11:17:55
Twenty-six years since I met my husband.

REHM

11:17:58
And that was on a book tour.

ALLENDE

11:18:01
I was on a book tour. I met, as he was introduced to me, the last heterosexual bachelor in San Francisco. And I had just recently divorced my husband of many, many years, so why not have a fling? Well, I'm still there, stuck with a husband.

REHM

11:18:19
The fling turned into marriage. We'll take a short break here, and we know that many of your fans will want to talk with you. Give us a call, 800-433-8850.

REHM

11:20:00
And if you've just joined us, Isabel Allende is here. One of my favorite authors. I'm sure one of yours, as well. She has a brand new novel and a brand new approach to her writing. She's written this time a thriller. And it's called "Ripper," a game that's played by the young people in her novel, searching for the reasons, the motives, the actions of Jack the Ripper, who assassinated a number or allegedly assassinated a number of prostitutes in London back in 1888. Now, Isabel, your central figure, Amanda, has a wonderful grandfather. His name is Blake Jackson. Tell me about that relationship. It's so sweet.

ALLENDE

11:21:19
Well, it's a sort of dysfunctional family because the parents are divorced. The father of this girl is the chief of homicide in San Francisco.

REHM

11:21:28
Right.

ALLENDE

11:21:28
He's a womanizer. He's a lovely character, in my opinion, but he's sort of out there. The mother is a healer who lives in a fairy world.

REHM

11:21:39
Now, why do you say that? She's an acupuncturist, she's a massage…

ALLENDE

11:21:43
Yeah, but she's so innocent in a way…

REHM

11:21:48
Ah, okay.

ALLENDE

11:21:50
…that they have a wonderful relationship...

REHM

11:21:52
Yes.

ALLENDE

11:21:52
…the mother and the daughter, but the daughter is the brain. And she's much more savvy about the world than the mother. The mother lives in limbo, really. And the grandfather is the person who has really taken care of her since she was born. And they have this relationship. They play chess, they challenge each other with games. And so when the girl decides to play this role-playing game called Ripper, she invites the grandfather to be her henchman. So his role is to obey her orders. And because there are things that she can't do. She can't go and witness an autopsy, for example. She can't get out of school. She's in a boarding school.

ALLENDE

11:22:37
So the one who investigates is really the grandfather. And they are all the time on the phone, with a cell, talking all the time.

REHM

11:22:43
She calls him at 2:00 o'clock in the morning.

ALLENDE

11:22:46
And so does he. I love that relationship.

REHM

11:22:52
Is he the grandfather you wish you would have had?

ALLENDE

11:22:55
Yes. And I am sure you, too. That kind of -- he's very young in spirit and he's kind and loving and totally dedicated to her. And he thinks that she's wonderful. He describes her with huge adjectives.

REHM

11:23:12
He's very proud of her.

ALLENDE

11:23:13
He's so proud of her. And devastated because she's going to go to college at some point.

REHM

11:23:20
What was your relationship with your own grandfather?

ALLENDE

11:23:23
I lived in his house when I was growing up because my mother was abandoned by my father. And she ended up going back to her father's house with three babies. So I grew up in the house of my grandfather. Then my grandmother died and my grandfather was a very stern, austere Basque, from Basque origin, a very wonderful man, but he never touched us or there was no kindness in his manners, although he was very kind in his heart. And he gave me the tools for life. He gave me discipline, a work ethic, a sense of honor and honesty, never ask for anything, never complain, don't whine, that kind of stuff that really has helped me in my life.

REHM

11:24:15
Tough love.

ALLENDE

11:24:16
Yeah, tough love, but in ways that I do appreciate now very much. I was never spoiled. So anything good that happens to me, like hot water coming out of the faucet, I'm so delighted. So delighted. It's a bonus, you know.

REHM

11:24:33
But at the same time something was clearly missing in that relationship that now you have created, you've imagined in the relationship between Amanda.

ALLENDE

11:24:46
Obviously, Diane, because in my previous book, in "Maya's Notebook" I have a similar grandfather. But he dies on Page 16, I think. So that was very unfortunate. I couldn't help it. In this case he lives through the book.

REHM

11:25:04
Isabel, when did you actually begin writing this book and how long did it take you?

ALLENDE

11:25:14
I start all my books on January 8th. And I started this one in 2012. And the story happens as I was -- I mean I was living in 2012, as the story was happening, day by day. So I didn't have much to research. I did have to research a lot about forensic medicine, crimes, guns, the protocols of the police, that kind of stuff. But that was very entertaining. And it took me only a few months. By October the book was done.

REHM

11:25:45
Wow. Tell me about the first book you wrote.

ALLENDE

11:25:50
The first book I wrote was "The House of the Spirits." I was living in Venezuela as a political refugee after the military coup in Chile. The coup had been in 1973. By 1981 when I started writing the book, I was losing my memories of Chile. Everything was like fading away. I think the book was an attempt to recover all what I had lost, my country, my family, my memories. And I was working at the time 12 hours a day administering a school, two shifts. And so I could only write at night. But I had the whole book inside. I sat down and my little typewriter with carbon paper and typing something that you don't even know what it is.

REHM

11:26:40
Oh, yes, I do.

ALLENDE

11:26:41
And I would write at night, without a plan, without thinking. It would just come out, you know, like spit it out. I have never been able to write again with that freedom and innocence, you know. That sense that you are playing, that kids in this book are playing, no restrictions of any kind.

REHM

11:27:06
No censorship.

ALLENDE

11:27:06
I have never read a book review in my life. I had no idea that there was a world out there of people who study literature, of publishers, of critics. No idea. I just wrote as I would write a letter to my grandfather.

REHM

11:27:20
And then what happened?

ALLENDE

11:27:23
Well, then, of course, nobody wanted to read that book. It was a very dirty manuscript. And eventually someone told me about an agent in Spain. And I sent the book by mail. My mother wrote me yesterday, an email, and she said, remember that when we went to mail your manuscript we didn't have money to pay for the…

REHM

11:27:43
Postage.

ALLENDE

11:27:44
…for the postage because it was so heavy. And my mother said -- I had forgotten. My mother reminded me yesterday. And that's how we lived at the time. And so I sent it to Spain -- my mother sent it to Spain, really. And…

REHM

11:28:00
How old were you?

ALLENDE

11:28:02
I was almost 40. I was 39. And I thought my life was a disaster. It wasn't going anywhere. My marriage wasn't going anywhere either. My children were ready to go to college. It was a bad time. And then in Spain it was published, it was translated, it goes…

REHM

11:28:23
But wait, wait, wait. How did you learn that this agent liked your book?

ALLENDE

11:28:31
Well, we had to separate the book in two packages with my mother. So it went into different envelopes. And I had a letter explaining in one of the envelopes, but she got the second one first. And she didn't get the -- you know, the mail in Venezuela can be pretty bad. And so she got the second envelope first. And she didn't know what the heck this thing was that she had received. And then she got the first part. And when she got the first part, she called me to Venezuela. At the time, people didn't make those…

REHM

11:28:59
Really?

ALLENDE

11:29:01
…international phone calls, you know. But she did call me and she said that she wanted to be my agent. And she said something memorable that I have never forgotten. She said, "Anybody can write a good first book because it's all their lives. Everything they have. The writer is proven on the second book." So while I sent the manuscript I started typing my second book, just to prove to her that I could be a writer.

REHM

11:29:32
Wow.

ALLENDE

11:29:32
In the meantime, in Europe the book was published. It became a sudden success, something that very seldom happens to a book, especially with an unknown author. And in a matter of a month every publisher in Europe was bidding for the book. So it was translated to all the European languages. But I was in Venezuela. I had no idea what was going on until a year later when I got an envelope with the first checks and the press reviews.

REHM

11:30:03
A year later?

ALLENDE

11:30:04
Yeah, and by then I had finished the second book. So that's how it got started. Without the success…

REHM

11:30:09
Wow.

ALLENDE

11:30:10
…of "The House of the Spirits" I wouldn't be here talking with you, Diane.

REHM

11:30:14
The first book, "House of Spirits," you came here after it was published in this country.

ALLENDE

11:30:23
Wow, that must have been in '84.

REHM

11:30:25
Exactly.

ALLENDE

11:30:27
Can you imagine?

REHM

11:30:27
I can. I can. It's been a long time…

ALLENDE

11:30:31
Yeah.

REHM

11:30:31
…we've had together. And this novel is really something. So different and yet, with much of your own magical writing.

ALLENDE

11:30:45
Well, I just came back from the book tour in Spain. And what everybody said is that they recognized my voice in the first page.

REHM

11:30:52
Exactly.

ALLENDE

11:30:52
And the same characters. So I just don't seem to be able to move away from that.

REHM

11:30:59
So you're no longer thinking of retiring? Maybe you're going to write another thriller?

ALLENDE

11:31:05
When I announced that I was going to retire, everybody -- not only my agent -- in my family panicked. They want me locked away writing. The minute I come out, I'm trouble. And my daughter-in-law, who travels with me, is horrified at the idea that I could stop writing and be out there.1

REHM

11:31:24
But why would you? Don't you still have more stories to tell?

ALLENDE

11:31:30
Well, I have thousands of stories.

REHM

11:31:31
Of course you do.

ALLENDE

11:31:32
But my back hurts. And I want to play with the dogs. And I want to have a life.

REHM

11:31:36
I understand.

ALLENDE

11:31:36
I mean like other people my age have a life. Not playing golf, of course, but I don't know, going to the movies a little more.

REHM

11:31:45
Reading? Doing other things?

ALLENDE

11:31:47
Reading novels. I have to read a lot for research. So I spend most of my time reading research. Only when I travel I have the luxury of reading novels.

REHM

11:32:00
Of course. We have many callers waiting. I'm going to open the phones and hear what they have to say. Let's go first to Boone, N.C. Lynn, you're on the air.

LYNN

11:32:18
Hi. And thank you so much for taking my call.

REHM

11:32:21
Surely.

LYNN

11:32:22
Isabel, I just wanted to let you know that I have four children or teenagers at (word?) High School, and I am so thankful that you are an author, that you help kids throughout the world understand what it means to be a global citizen. Two of my kids have been fortunate enough to read your book in their class and my youngest is starting the class this morning. And we hope that your "House of Spirits" will be taught. And I'm so thankful to hear that you are still writing. Can't wait to read the book. Can't wait to have my teenagers read the book. And by the way, I'm from San Francisco or the Bay Area originally, and yet I'm here in Boone.

ALLENDE

11:33:03
Oh, thank you so much. You know, that "The House of the Spirits" has been forbidden in some schools. It takes one parent to take a book out of the reading list. So there is a huge scandal right now in North Carolina because a teacher has been fighting to put the book back in the list. And the kids seem to like the book. And they love to read it, but, you know, some parents object to the sex in the book. As if the kids were not watching porn on TV.

LYNN

11:33:34
Well, and I will tell you that I am one of the parents and one of the many, many parents and children and teenagers who have been in her class who are fighting desperately so that the censorship of books that help kids understand the global issues, remain in our classrooms. So you have, in fact, you have inspired me to send you all of the letters and writings…

ALLENDE

11:33:57
Oh, thank you.

LYNN

11:33:58
…from students who have appreciated your writing. Thank you so much for continuing your efforts.

ALLENDE

11:34:04
Thanks.

LYNN

11:34:05
And you're publishing fantastic material.

REHM

11:34:07
Thank you for calling, Lynn. That's really quite something that that particular book is being pushed out of the some classrooms. And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." So you've heard lots about that happening?

ALLENDE

11:34:27
Yeah, and it's gone to the board of education and all that. But the controversy is good because it's not only about my book. Parents object to love and sex and in my books there's never an openly sexual scene, but they don't object to torture, to repression, to poverty, none of the social issues matter. And kids can watch the most horrible violence on…

REHM

11:34:57
I know.

ALLENDE

11:34:59
No one objects.

REHM

11:34:59
I know. It makes very little sense. To Gabriella, in Dallas, Texas. You're on the air.

GABRIELLA

11:35:07
Hi.

REHM

11:35:09
Hi.

GABRIELLA

11:35:09
Thank you so much. I'm so grateful to talk with both of you. First and foremost I want to thank you for your work. Both, very, very moving and inspiring.

ALLENDE

11:35:15
Thank you.

REHM

11:35:16
Thank you.

GABRIELLA

11:35:20
Ms. Allende, I'm Basque, like you. My last name is Chatagram (sp?). I'm from Mexico City, originally. And my mother's life was a lot like yours. And your first book and movie completely changed my life. I can't describe it. A lot like your life, in that my mom was from the classic, you know, fall from the social status, economic grace that happened so often to women in those types of intensely social class of societies, especially in her era. She's now in her 70s. So we moved to The States in '68, but I wanted to tell you that I went to see you speak on your book, "The Island of the Sea" at the Dallas Museum of Art, here a couple of years ago.

GABRIELLA

11:36:02
I think it was right when it came out. So I purchased your book and you autographed it. The line was long, but I didn't the need to keep the book. I bought it specifically for a dear friend of my little sisters. My little sister lives in California and was recovering from breast cancer surgery and this is when I met this adorable woman, a friend, a fourth generation white Haitian. And as things would have I got the book and I mailed it immediately to this beautiful lady named Florence Isabelle. And she was gone. She was out of town. She went to New York City to visit one of her sisters.

REHM

11:36:40
All right.

GABRIELLA

11:36:40
And on the coffee table she saw a copy of your book. Her sister said I'd let you read it, but I can't, because I'm still reading it. Then she went to Haiti to visit her second sister. And the book was there.

REHM

11:36:51
Oh, how wonderful.

GABRIELLA

11:36:52
And her sister said, "You must read it." She eventually returns to California and in the mail, she finds the autographed copy of your book.

ALLENDE

11:37:01
What a coincidence.

GABRIELLA

11:37:01
She was thrilled beyond words and it moved us both to tears. And I think I came out the winner because she sent it to me. I don't know if you went to Haiti during your research and your work. And I think I remember you didn't, but I received a gift from Yackmel (sp?), which is a cultural center. And I just wanted to thank you very, very much.

ALLENDE

11:37:20
Thank you for reading it.

REHM

11:37:20
Well, Gabriella, thank you. And thank you for telling us that story. Short break here. We'll be right back.

REHM

11:39:58
One of the characters in Isabel Allende's new novel titled "Ripper" is Amanda's mother Indiana Jackson. Tell us a little more about Indiana. You said she's innocent. You said that while Amanda is very bright, very talented, Indiana sort of lives a very different kind of life. She has one boyfriend Alan. She has another friend. I'll call him friend boy or friend man who is a Navy SEAL -- or was a Navy SEAL.

ALLENDE

11:40:42
Well, Indiana is based on a person -- the model for Indiana is a person we know, a healer in Buenos Aires who has become a very good friend. My husband had -- was diagnosed with a terminal disease that there's no treatment for it. This was in 2010. And he started doing all kinds of alternative medicine and found many people, acupuncturists, yoga, even this healer. And so we learned a lot about all these practices. And now the doctors say that my husband was misdiagnosed because he's fine. Three years later he's doing fine.

ALLENDE

11:41:26
And I imagined the healer, just like the one we know but tall, a little overweight, fleshy, you know. The kind of sensuous opulent blond that I would love to be. And she's very sexy. And at the same time she's a very good honest person who loves her boyfriend. And she's very loyal, faithful to him. And in her heart she has a space for this Navy SEAL who has been wounded in the war and who is a person who adores her, but understands her relationship with the other one.

REHM

11:42:09
The other one, Alan, is quite wealthy, quite powerful. But...

ALLENDE

11:42:16
But he's pretty much of a loser if you think about it because the money's inherited. He didn't make it.

REHM

11:42:21
Right.

ALLENDE

11:42:21
He has this artistic err. He's a seducer. He's just a playboy. I don't like him that much really. And I imagine him like Hugh Grant, a guy that I hate. And I hate...

REHM

11:42:39
Hugh Grant, the actor.

ALLENDE

11:42:40
Yeah, the actor. I just don't like him.

REHM

11:42:41
Oh, you don't like him. Okay.

ALLENDE

11:42:43
I don't like him at all.

REHM

11:42:44
All right.

ALLENDE

11:42:44
And that's how I imagine him.

REHM

11:42:46
Okay.

ALLENDE

11:42:46
While the Navy SEAL I imagine him much, much better. And the relationship of the three of them is a very interesting triangle that I try to put myself in the role of each one of them.

REHM

11:43:05
That's what one does in a dream, isn't it?

ALLENDE

11:43:09
Well, that is what one does in any book. And for the Navy SEAL I really had a model, a person who helped me for each one. So it was easy.

REHM

11:43:20
Tell me about the Navy SEAL and how he helped you create this character.

ALLENDE

11:43:26
He gave me a lot of information. He was very generous. And of course he wouldn't say anything that was secret, and they have a lot of secretive missions. And Navy SEALs don't talk about their job. But he's retired now and...

REHM

11:43:44
He has a dog.

ALLENDE

11:43:46
Yeah, and for me the dog is the best character of the book, Attila. And I love dogs. You have a dog, Diane.

REHM

11:43:55
I have a dog. I adore dogs.

ALLENDE

11:43:56
You know what the relationship can be like. My relationship with my dogs -- I have two rescues -- is very -- it's a stupid relationship. I just spoil them to death. And it's not the case between the Navy SEAL and his dog. They are real companions, warriors. Both of them have been wounded. They're all scarred by the war. And they go side by side into the world. I just love that relationship.

REHM

11:44:23
But, you know...

ALLENDE

11:44:24
It never says that he owns the dog.

REHM

11:44:27
Right.

ALLENDE

11:44:28
Never.

REHM

11:44:28
Right.

ALLENDE

11:44:29
Because he doesn't own the dog. He is the dog's companion.

REHM

11:44:32
The dog has his own spirit.

ALLENDE

11:44:35
Of course.

REHM

11:44:36
Now, when you say your relationship with your dogs is stupid, you spoil them, what happens, I think, between humans and dogs is that your heart opens more in a different way from the human relationship.

ALLENDE

11:44:58
I think that except with a newborn baby, the relationship with human beings always has an element of criticism. You are being judged. You are being classified, qualified in a way. With animals, it's just affection. You -- there is no intellect, no brain. It's just affection. I feel that when I am with my dogs, my heart is completely open.

REHM

11:45:26
Exactly.

ALLENDE

11:45:27
I don't want the dog to be different as I don't want a tree to be different, but I want my grandchildren to be different.

REHM

11:45:35
To Bill in Montville, Conn. You're on the air.

BILL

11:45:41
Hello. Can you hear me?

REHM

11:45:42
Sure can.

ALLENDE

11:45:42
Yes.

BILL

11:45:44
All right. Thank you for taking my call.

REHM

11:45:46
Yes.

BILL

11:45:47
I -- my question is, the -- your guest -- I want to make sure the name -- it's Isabella (sic) ?

ALLENDE

11:45:58
Yep.

REHM

11:45:58
Isabel Allende.

BILL

11:45:58
Okay. Your guest Isabella (sic) mentioned a couple of times at least that she starts her novels writing them on January 8. Is there some significance that she wants to share with about that date?

ALLENDE

11:46:17
Yes. I started my first book on January 8 and it was a very fortunate book. So I thought just for good luck I'll start the second one on the same date and then the third one. And then I didn't dare change the date because all my books have been fortunate. But now it's a matter of discipline because my life has gotten to be very, very complicated. There's much more to my life than just writing. Traveling to begin with, books tours, lecturing. All that takes a lot of time and energy.

ALLENDE

11:46:51
And also I have a foundation so I need to set aside a few months a year to just be with my writing and nothing else. And generally it's a good day because it's the end of the holidays, it's winter. It's an introverted time so it's perfect for me.

REHM

11:47:11
Tell me about the foundation. Why was it established and what you are doing with it.

ALLENDE

11:47:20
My daughter Paula died in 1992 and I...

REHM

11:47:23
And you and I talked about that.

ALLENDE

11:47:25
Yeah, and I wrote a book about it. And the book has -- I mean, became very successful. And all the income that I got from that book was set aside in a separate account because I wanted to honor my daughter somehow. But I didn't know quite -- I didn't quite know how. And three years later I came up with the idea of creating a foundation. And the mission of the foundation is to empower women and girls in the areas of health, education and protection. Of course health includes family planning.

ALLENDE

11:48:03
And then my daughter-in-law came into our lives and she directs the foundation. She has the firm wrist of a good captain and keeps it afloat and she does a wonderful job. So I'm very proud of the little work that we can do. I say little because the needs are so huge, Diane, that one gets sort of discouraged. I think, well, we are helping this project but there are 100 more projects that -- noble causes that one wants to support and there's not enough resources.

REHM

11:48:45
What is the foundation called?

ALLENDE

11:48:48
The Isabel Allende Foundation. You can Google it and you will find all the information...

REHM

11:48:53
Good.

ALLENDE

11:48:54
...and all the projects that we support.

REHM

11:48:56
Good.

ALLENDE

11:48:57
We do not go around trying to get money for the foundation. It's only my income that feeds it. But people are very kind and people really want to help. So we always tell them, go directly to these organizations because we have researched them. We know about them and we can guarantee that the money's well spent.

REHM

11:49:20
That's wonderful. All right. Let's go to Scott in Houston, Texas. Scott, you're on the air.

SCOTT

11:49:34
Hello, Diane. Hello, Isabel. How are you all doing today?

REHM

11:49:37
Fine, thanks.

ALLENDE

11:49:37
Good, thank you.

SCOTT

11:49:39
Diane, thank you. Your show is a bright spot in my day every day. So thank you for having Isabel especially today. Isabel, (speaks foreign language) .

REHM

11:49:46
I'm so glad.

ALLENDE

11:49:48
Gracias.

SCOTT

11:49:50
My wife and I read "The House of the Spirits" back in 1986 when she was pregnant with our first set of twins and named the first daughter Clara after Clara, the main character in "The House of the Spirits."

ALLENDE

11:50:05
Thank you.

SCOTT

11:50:07
No, thank you. It's...

ALLENDE

11:50:08
Excuse me. Excuse me. You said my...

SCOTT

11:50:10
...a wonderful, wonderful daughter, very special and reminds me so much of Clara, the clairvoyant in your book.

ALLENDE

11:50:17
Oh, wow. You said my first set of twins. You have more than one pair of twins?

SCOTT

11:50:22
No, we only have one pair of twins -- our first...

ALLENDE

11:50:24
Oh, god, I...

SCOTT

11:50:25
...children. We had a son later. And...

ALLENDE

11:50:28
Oh, well, congratulations.

REHM

11:50:30
Good.

SCOTT

11:50:31
Yes.

REHM

11:50:32
All right, Scott. Thanks for calling. That's very good of you.

SCOTT

11:50:36
Thank you.

REHM

11:50:37
And congratulations on those children. Now to Mona here in Washington, D.C. You're on the air.

MONA

11:50:48
Thank you. Diane, it's a great pleasure to talk to such a progressive artist. I grew up hearing about President Allende and ousted or an installment of the awful dictator Pinochet. But I really respect you as an artist too. I'm Egyptian American and used to go to my grandmother's in the summer. And one time when I got sick, she cut a paper doll and burnt it with a little bit of my hair to get better. And, you know, even though we come from Muslim background, these old traditions, you know, really back from ancient Egyptian times are really still part of our culture.

MONA

11:51:30
And I hope that one day you'll come and do research on January 8 in Egypt and write a historical novel about Egypt.

ALLENDE

11:51:36
Oh yeah, it's a wonderful idea.

MONA

11:51:40
Thank you for your work.

ALLENDE

11:51:41
Oh, thank you for reading it.

REHM

11:51:42
Thank you, Mona. That's just a great story. Let's go to Brandon, Fla. Hi, Sharon.

SHARON

11:51:53
Hi. I'm so glad you took my call. Thank you. Ola, Isabel.

ALLENDE

11:51:57
Ola.

SHARON

11:51:58
I'm so delighted. I'm such a fan of your work. And I adore your short stories. I was a classroom Spanish teacher for many years. And we read them together. And it was all young ladies. And I think I successfully passed along my love for your work to many of them. And I just wondered if maybe you have an idea to ever write anymore short stories.

ALLENDE

11:52:22
You know, it's a very difficult genre. People...

REHM

11:52:25
Tell me why.

ALLENDE

11:52:25
Oh, because people think that because it's short it will be easier than a novel. But it isn't.

REHM

11:52:32
It has to be so much more compressed.

ALLENDE

11:52:34
So concentrated -- yeah, every word counts. You have to know from the very first line how it's going to end. It's like poetry. In a novel -- a novel is a tapestry. You can spend time and make mistakes, nobody will notice. And you have the time and the space to develop characters and the plot and everything else. In a story what matters is the tone. What makes it memorable is the tone more than the plot.

ALLENDE

11:53:07
Probably you have read a thousand short stories and you can't remember only three or four. So I don't know if I will dare write short stories again. It's a very scary proposition.

REHM

11:53:19
And you're listening to "The Diane Rehm Show." I want our listeners to know that there is a link on our website drshow.org to the Isabel Allende Foundation. And I think we have time for one last caller. Sandra in Miami, you're on the air.

SANDRA

11:53:46
Hi, Diane. How are you?

REHM

11:53:47
I'm fine, thank you.

ALLENDE

11:53:48
Hola.

SANDRA

11:53:50
Hola, que tal. I'm so happy for having the pleasure to listen to you. And I just wanted to thank you because, you know, people like me, make way to a new place sometimes is asking all the time where do you belong? And I just love your book (unintelligible) "My Invented Country" when you say you are coming back from Chile and you are traveling and you say, I don't know if my house is a place where I live or it's just Willy (sp?) , which is your love, right?

SANDRA

11:54:22
We have been together for many years and it seems like that he's like the only place where I belong. So I really feel so identify because as you, U.S.A. is my home, but Colombia is the place where I have my nostalgia.

ALLENDE

11:54:42
Well, thank you. You know, you don't have to choose. You can have a foot in Colombia and a foot here. The heart is very big. You can have Colombia and the States in your heart. I say always that my home is where Willy is because I have started from scratch...

REHM

11:54:59
He is your husband.

ALLENDE

11:55:01
My husband.

REHM

11:55:01
Yes.

ALLENDE

11:55:02
Because I have started from scratch many times. I have no problem closing the door of my hour, leaving everything there. And I know that in six months I won't even remember what I lost. But where the -- the person you sleep with, the person you tell all the secrets to, that's your home. And your home is also memory, what do you remember.

REHM

11:55:26
Ah, yes. Absolutely.

ALLENDE

11:55:28
The territorial memory.

REHM

11:55:30
Absolutely. Tell me, today is. I think, January 26...

ALLENDE

11:55:38
27th I think.

REHM

11:55:40
27th, okay. Did you start a new novel?

ALLENDE

11:55:45
Yes, because I'm very superstitious. So in spite of the book tours and despite of all the work we have had -- and I say we because it's my whole office and me -- I reserve that day, January 8 to be alone in silence with my computer in the casita where I write. And I wrote a few pages. And now on the book tour I carry my iPad and I go back to those pages every minute that I'm free so that I don't lose the thread. And by the end of February when I'm finally back home, I think I will be able to write another book.

REHM

11:56:25
Good for you.

ALLENDE

11:56:26
Thank you.

REHM

11:56:26
Wonderful. And Isabel Allende's current book that has just been released is titled "Ripper." And I know people are going to love this one. Congratulations.

ALLENDE

11:56:44
Thank you so much for having me on the program, Diane.

REHM

11:56:47
My pleasure. And thanks all for listening. I'm Diane Rehm.
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