For fans of Amy Bloom’s White Houses and Colm Tóibín’s The Master, Leonora in the Morning Light is a page-turning novel about Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington and the art, drama, and romance that defined her coming-of-age during World War II. We spoke with author Michaela Carter about the inspiration for Leonora in the Morning Light, co-founding an indie bookstore (Peregrine Book Company), and more!
“Deeply empathic….Carter has written a refulgent and deeply involving historical tale of tragic lost love, determined survival, the sanctuary of art, and the evolution of a muse into an artist of powerfully provocative feminist expression.”Booklist (Starred Review)
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
I’d been researching the Surrealist art movement and searching for the women artists who had been on the outskirts of the all-male circle. And then, in 2013, I saw Leonora Carrington’s art at the Tate Modern in London, and it captivated me, so I bought an art book on her in the gift shop. When I read about her affair with the much older and established artist Max Ernst, their separation during the Nazi invasion of France, and her profound trials during that time, I knew that this was the story I had to tell.
I read all of the books I could find on Leonora, Max, and also Peggy Guggenheim, who waltzed right into the story. During the seven years of writing this novel, I fell in love with all of the characters, as well as the settings—especially Paris and the south of France, where Leonora and Max, for all too short a time, had an idyllic home.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
Listeners might be surprised by how instrumental women were in the creation of magical, Surrealist art, and in bringing this art to America.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? What struck you about the narration?
I just listened to it! The three narrators—Cassandra Campbell, Fiona Hardingham, Jacques Roy—are wonderful. I love their interpretations of Leonora, Max and Peggy’s perspectives, and I especially enjoyed hearing Leonora’s sections in Fiona Hardingham’s gorgeous English accent.
Are you an audiobook listener? What are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I adore audiobooks! Some of my favorites are The Dutch House, City On Fire, and The Roxy Letters.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Indie bookstores are the heart of our communities. Whenever I travel, I make sure to visit the bookshops in every town. In 2012, I co-founded the Peregrine Book Company in Prescott, Arizona, which felt both exciting and essential. As a book buyer there, I try to bring the best the publishing world has to offer to our town. And as a writer, I’ve loved giving readings at indies, and seeing my books on the shelves is always a joy. I really can’t imagine my life without independent bookstores and the wonderful booksellers who work at them!
Anything else to share with us?
It’s a dream come true to have an audiobook version of Leonora in the Morning Light. I hope you enjoy it!