PROVO, UT (Sept. 23, 2016)–Anne Perry believes in the power of stories. During her lecture as part of the English Reading Series, she said, “The best way to move people is with a story.” She knows that stories have the power to do much more than simply entertain. “We tell stories in the hopes that we will move somebody to say something and do something in a new way,” she explained. Perry is an internationally acclaimed historical fiction novelist whose books explore universal questions of right and wrong, responsibility and the effects of trials on a person’s character. Her books are meant not only to be gripping to read, but thought-provoking as well.
During her lecture, she explained to the audience her process for writing books. “I always start a book with something that matters to me passionately, intensely,” Perry said. In the case of her newest novel, one of the themes is, in her own words, “All that’s necessary for evil to come to pass is for good people to do nothing.” Her book explores the obligation she feels each person has to prevent and stop problems even though they might not be directly affected by those problems at the time.
She achieves this in part by setting this particular novel in the 1930s, a space of precarious peace between two massive wars and a time when many people turned a blind eye to simmering problems in a desperate attempt to prevent another conflict. She said, “I love to set any story in very turbulent times, when the times test the mettle of a person, to know exactly what they believe when [they are] forced to face [their] own inner beliefs, [their] strengths, [their] weaknesses.”
Another theme she explores in her new novel is the relation between a person’s character and the depth of their desire for something. The measure of a person, she claims, is, “not only what [they] want, but how much [they] want it and what [they] will pay for it. Enough to suffer, and bleed maybe, and work and give up other things to achieve what it is [they] want.”
Perry explained that she wants her books to make people seriously consider the questions she raises, and that she hopes it will lead some to readjust how they view themselves and those around them. In reference to this new book, she told the audience, “It is going to be a thriller. I hope it will take you along . . . but make you think by the time you get to the end, ‘This could happen again. And if I’m walking by on the other side, yes, I’m accountable because I could have tried to do something about it, but I didn’t.’”
–Olivia Madsen (BA French Language, ’17)
Olivia covers events for the English Department for the College of Humanities. She is a senior pursuing a degree in French language with a minor in writing and rhetoric.