Powells’ Dave Weich interviews Andrew Sean Greer, whose Confessions of Max Tivoli was a favorite here at Casa Moorishgirl. Here’s an excerpt:
Dave: I’m assuming it’s true that your initial inspiration was the Bob Dylan song [“My Back Pages”]?
Greer: That’s not made up, though my friends joke with me; they hear me say it so often at readings that they now assume it is.
I had the idea singing that one line, I was so much older then / I’m younger than that now, and I wrote it down. I didn’t come back to it for a couple months because I was in the middle of a book.
It seemed at first like a bad idea, but when I came back to it and realized I had to write another book I was able to see what would be interesting to me about it, which wasn’t the science fiction idea of someone aging backwards but ideas related to second chances at love. And I could write about being different inside from the way you’re perceived on the outside. Also, I realized I could set it in a historical context, which was the terrifying part, really, not the aging backwards part.
It’s often hard for me to remember how it started out. I’m told that early drafts were incredibly different from the book that exists now, but I don’t remember. You start to think you just sat down and wrote the book, which I know is not true.