Elise Hooper’s debut audiobook takes a look at the real family the Marches of Little Women are based on and tells the fascinating story of May Alcott—Louisa’s youngest sister and an artist in her own right. Elise told us a little bit about her inspiration, her favorite audiobooks, and what independent bookstores have meant to her.
By Elise Hooper • Narrated by Cassandra Campbell
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
I grew up near Orchard House, the Alcott family home-turned-museum in Concord, MA, and visited it many times when I was a girl. I even went to drama camp there. Although Louisa is the headliner of the place, May’s little room in the back of the house always intrigued me. I loved looking at all of the fanciful drawings on her bedroom’s walls and wondered what had happened to the girl that drew them. Was there more to May than her fictional doppelganger Amy March would lead us to believe? After doing some research, I discovered that, yes, May Alcott has a fascinating story of her own! The Other Alcott began as a passion project about the Alcotts, but it turned into an exploration of the lively world of women artists in the 1870s.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
Listeners may be surprised at how hard women artists had to work to be taken seriously, because painting as a feminine hobby was acceptable, but as a profession? No way!
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I did! Cassandra Campbell’s ability to take on different voices blows my mind–in fact, I think she’s so amazing that I asked for her to read my second novel, Learning to See.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I always have at least one audiobook going at a time. My all-time favorites are Born a Crime by Trevor Noah, Becoming by Michelle Obama, and Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Honestly, I could listen to those over and over. My dog also loves audiobooks because we go on extra-long walks when I get drawn in to a great one.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
The best thing about independent bookstores is that they’re filled with people who have the very special superpower of being able to connect you with an unforgettable story that you may not have found on your own. When I go into a bookstore and see those handwritten recommendation cards, I know I’m going to walk out with a stack of fantastic finds.