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Don Swaim Interviews

Audio Interview with Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag

Susan Sontag, author of Volcano Lover, talks about the benefits of writing biographical novels. It’s both a challenge and a pleasure, she says. She had to get it right in some places, but in other place, she had to take liberties. Even though she bases it on real people, she says, it’s still a work of fiction.

Volcano Lover is based on the love triangle of three individuals, Lord Nelson, Sir. William Hamilton, and Emma Hamilton in the 18th century. William and Emma were happily married for many years despite their age difference of 36 years. But after all those years of fidelity, Emma falls in love with William’s good friend Nelson.

Sontag did little research for the novel, so many of the decisions were left up to her.

“I thought about them (the characters) morning, noon and night,” she said. “I dreamt about them. I even lent them characteristics of myself unknowingly.”

Lastly, during the interview, Swaim tries to instigate a response from an adversarial comment directed at Sontag made by Camille Paglia in an article in Vanity Fair. Sontag said, however, that she didn’t know Camille and put the comment past her. To hear more about that awkward situation, click on the link below.

Listen to the Susan Sontag interview with Don Swaim, August 27, 1992
(42 min. 17 sec.)

MP3 File

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For many years most of the best writers of the English language found their way to Don Swaim's CBS Radio studio in New York. Wired for Books is proud to webcast these interviews in RealAudio.

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