From a bestselling memoirist, The Fixed Stars is a thoughtful and provocative story of changing identity, complex sexuality, and enduring family relationships. We spoke with author Molly Wizenberg about her inspiration for the book, indie booksellers as oracles and educators, and more.
“I have enjoyed Molly Wizenberg’s writing for years, and this book was no exception. I loved the mix of science and research with confessional truth-telling about longing and identity. As a mother of two small children, I clung to this story of discovery. And as a human, I cherished Wizenberg’s exploration of the realization that our stories are never done being written. This book was a balm for my soul.”Sarah Fischer, Downbound Books
Please tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write this book and how this story took shape for you.
For me, the reason for writing anything is to figure out what I think about something. If there were an easier way to reach the same understanding, I’m sure I’d do that instead! I wrote this book because when I was 36 years old, I found myself wildly attracted to a woman, attracted in a way I couldn’t get over. And that desire turned everything upside down, because I was married to a man and we had a young daughter. I’d always known myself as a straight person, and now I didn’t know myself at all. I didn’t know—or didn’t believe—that something so central to my identity could change so radically. It called into question everything I thought I knew about myself—what I wanted, what I was capable of, what kind of wife, mother, and person I should be. I wrote this book to try to find some answers.
In two sentences or less, what’s something that might surprise Libro.fm listeners about your audiobook?
Though The Fixed Stars is a memoir, it draws on and references a lot of other writers’ work, especially queer authors and thinkers. I’ve found such comfort—and incitement to keep probing, to keep asking hard questions—in the work of queer writers, and I wanted to acknowledge them by bringing their words, wherever possible and with permission, into my own story.
Have you listened to your own audiobook? If so, what struck you about the narration?
I haven’t listened yet. But when we were considering narrators, I loved Erin Mallon‘s style, so I’m eager to hear how she voices and interprets my writing.
Are you an audiobook listener? If so, what are some of your favorite audiobooks?
I’m a very visual person, so I tend to read books in paper form. But my entire family is obsessed with Jim Dale‘s narration of the Harry Potter series, including me. Now that I think about it, I’d love to hear him read The Fixed Stars. Ha.
What have independent bookstores and/or booksellers meant to you personally and professionally?
Everything. I still remember the name of our local bookstore from my childhood in Oklahoma: Full Circle Bookstore. I spent hours there as a teenager. Kind of nuts to think about how much of who I am today might have been shaped by the books that were recommended to me by booksellers there! And today, as a frequent visitor to my neighborhood bookstores in Seattle—Secret Garden Books and Phinney Books—I’m still being educated by booksellers. I love that. As an author, I can’t imagine publishing books without independent bookstores. I was beside myself when I found out that they’d made The Fixed Stars an Indie Next Pick. Booksellers might be the best people on Earth?
Header photo by Dorothee Brand