Interview with Liza Klaussmann

Liza Klaussmann’s debut novel Tigers in Red Weather was published by Picador on 2nd August to great critical and commercial success, having already been very popular with book bloggers and literary critics. A carefully plotted family saga covering twenty years, with secrets and lies sizzling at their summer house. I reviewed the book in July and absolutely loved it. And now, just for my readers, here is my little interview with the author herself, Liza Klaussmann. Enjoy!

Picador cover

The tone of the novel reminded me of Truman Capote and Carson McCullers. Were any writers a particular influence on you when writing Tigers?

I’m so flattered by the Capote reference ( I adore him), but I would say that Fitzgerald’s Tender Is the Night, Margaret Atwood’s Blind Assassin and  Patricia Highsmith’s Ripley Underground were three novels I thought about while writing Tigers.

The passage of the time adds amazing depth to the characters and shifts the focus between them. How much did the cultures of the different decades influence how you wrote each character?

It was definitely on my mind while I was doing it; I thought about what kind of reactions the character’s would be having to the events happening in world around them at each specific time. I made up playlists of songs from the specific time periods for each section and would listen to them while I was writing. That’s probably why there’s so much music referenced in the book. But their changes also have to do with ageing and how growing older and experience affects them.

The women in this novel are fascinating – they play such pivotal roles in the family and are so multi-faceted. Did you take inspiration from women you knew in real life? Or any others in particular?

Well, my grandmother, who died just as I began writing this novel, was the inspiration for Nick — a strong, charismatic woman who could be cruel as well as fragile at times, but who looms large in the lives of the rest of the characters. Helena and Daisy are complete inventions. But Helena is character that I think many people may recognize — someone whose disappointments lead her to play the victim at every turn, and yet still she has some great qualities (at least in my mind), not least of which is a dry sense of humor.

Tiger House is where ‘it all happens’ and is where Nick and Helena spent a lot of their childhood. Is there something to be said for places that hold a lot of memories affecting families’ behaviour and relationships with each other?

I think they’re a perfect place for stories to unfold — that’s probably why there are so many books that use family homes as the scene for drama. I just saw the West End Adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night and was struck again by how these sort of summer homes also carry with them all the memories of the past that can haunt and poison the present. From a writing standpoint, they are also heavy with sense memory which is a powerful well to draw from, creatively.

Tigers in Red Weather is your first novel and has already created a lot of ‘buzz’ and hype, and looks to do very well when published in August (congratulations!). What are you planning next?

I’m working on my second novel, which is a fictional retelling of the lives of Sara and Gerald Murphy. It is also a novel that concerns family, but the type of family that is created by a group of people, rather than the one we are born into. I am also fascinated by the societal view of the spectrum of sexuality in the 1920s, the period during which the book takes place.

Liza Klaussmann

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Many, many thanks to Emma Bravo at Picador and of course Liza Klaussmann for providing this interview.

Tigers in Red Weather is available everywhere now – read it!

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