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"Beautiful Ruins," by Jess Walter

Beautiful Ruins, Jess Walker
Harper Collins, Hannah Assouline

Jeff Glor talks to Jess Walter about "Beautiful Ruins."

Jeff Glor: What inspired you to write the book?

Jess Walter: Initially, I was inspired by a trip to Italy, and to the Cinque Terre, the cliffside villages south of Genoa, in 1997. But over the years, the novel shifted so many times and I realized a few years ago, that it was really a story about how we tell stories, the artifacts and ruins that make up our lives. Also cannibalism.

JG: What surprised you the most during the writing process?

JW: Everything surprised me. Because this was a book I set down and picked up so many times (at least five times over fifteen years) it bears almost no resemblance to the book I started in 1997. Every sentence has changed, every character has been altered. The only constant has been this small town in Italy and a couple of the characters.

JG: What would you be doing if you weren't a writer?

JW: Hmm. Modeling, probably. But I wrote for years and years before I was paid for it, so even if I wasn't published and had to make my living in the cutthroat world of short, middle-aged, one-eyed male models, I'd still be a writer.

JG: What else are you reading right now?

JW: I just finished the new Martin Amis novel, "Lionel Asbo," and it's marvelous. I hit a remarkable streak of great novels: Jim Lynch's "Truth Like the Sun," Ben Fountain's "Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk," Kim Barnes's "In the Kingdom of Men," Wiley Cash's "A Land More Kind Than Home." All wonderful reads.

JG: What's next for you?

JW: I have a book of short stories, "We Live in Water," due to come out next year. And I'm adapting my last two novels as film scripts.

For more on "Beautiful Ruins," visit the Harper Collins website.

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