Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Michele Zackheim's "Last Train to Paris"

Michele Zackheim is the author of four books. Born in Reno, Nevada she grew up in Compton, California. For many years she worked in the visual arts as a fresco muralist, an installation artist, print-maker, and a painter. Her work has been widely exhibited and is included in the permanent collections of The National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.; The Albuquerque Museum; The Grey Art Gallery of New York University; The New York Public Library; The Hebrew Union College Skirball Museum, and The Carlsbad Museum of Art. She has been the recipient of two NEA awards, and teaches Creative Writing from a Visual Perspective at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Of her transition from visual artist to author she writes: “Over time, random words began to appear on my canvases…then poems…then elaborate fragments of narratives. I began to think more about writing and less about the visual world. Finally, I simply wrote myself off the canvas and onto the lavender quadrille pages of a bright orange notebook. This first book, Violette’s Embrace, was published by Riverhead Books.” That book is a fictional biography of the French writer Violette Leduc. Her second book, the acclaimed Einstein’s Daughter: The Search for Lieserl (Penguin Putnam, 1999), is a non-fiction account of the mystery of the lost illegitimate daughter of Mileva and Albert Einstein. Broken Colors (Europa Editions, 2007) is the story of an artist, whose life takes her to a place where life and art intersect. Her fourth novel, Last Train to Paris, was published in January 2014. Zackheim lives in New York City.

Here the author shares some ideas on casting an adaptation of the new novel:
When I begin to write a book, I look for photographs of my characters on the Internet and in photograph archives. It takes a long time to do this research. I’m particular about finding the right faces to fire my imagination for the years that it takes to write a book. Once I’ve settled on the faces, I print the images. Since I’ll be looking at them for a long time, I keep them behind glass in pretty frames and arrange them on my desk.

If a movie were to be made of my latest book, Last Train to Paris, I would want obscure actors—actors whom the viewers think they recognize, but can’t identify. I find that when I go to the movies, I can never get away from the real person—Brad Pitt is always Brad Pitt; Helen Mirren is always Helen Mirren. Sorry. Although they may be good actors, that’s just the way it is. For my movie, I want the viewer to travel back in time to Paris and Berlin just before the Second World War, knowing no one, having no preconceived ideas. New faces. New ideas. New understanding?
Visit Michele Zackheim's website.

--Marshal Zeringue