Monday, May 8, 2023

The 40 But 10 Interview Series: DEAN DE LA MOTTE


I had retired the literary Would You Rather interview series, but didn't want to stop interviews on the site all together. Instead, I've pulled together 40ish questions - some bookish, some silly - and have asked authors to limit themselves to answering only 10 of them. That way, it keeps the interviews fresh and connectable for all of us!

Today we are joined by DEAN DE LA MOTTE. Dean was born and raised in California’s San Joaquin Valley, and studied English, French, and comparative literature at UC Santa Barbara, UNC Chapel Hill, and the University of Poitiers, France.  He has published articles and books on nineteenth-century French literature and culture, as well numerous essays on the teaching of literature, including Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights

 The father of two grown children, de la Motte lives in Newport, Rhode Island, and spends most summers in France.  Oblivion: The Lost Diaries of Branwell Brontë (Valley Press, 2022) is his first novel.


What do you do when you’re not writing?

I teach, I read, I cook.


Describe your book in three words.

Ambitious. Astonishing. Unputdownable.


Would you and your main character(s) get along?

After a couple of drinks, yes.


What are you currently reading?

Éric-Emmanuel Schmitt’s La Part de l’autre (2001); just finished James Robertson’s News of the Dead (2021).


What genres won’t you read?

Theatre. Fantasy. Works seemingly written only for women, or only for men for that matter. Self-improvement texts. Books about money. Religious, pious, or inspirational works. Most poetry.


What’s the one book someone else wrote that you wish you had written?

Flaubert’s Madame Bovary.


What’s the single best line you’ve ever read?

The final line of Wuthering Heights: "I lingered round them, under that benign sky; watched the moths fluttering among the heath, and hare-bells; listened to the soft wind breathing through the grass; and wondered how anyone could ever imagine unquiet slumbers for the sleepers in that quiet earth."


Do you think you’d live long in a zombie apocalypse?

I’d be dead in about two minutes.


If you were on death row, what would your last meal be?

Pasta fra diavolo and a bottle of red wine.


If you could time travel, would you go back to the past or forward into the future?

Into the past, preferably mid-nineteenth-century Paris with tons of cash on hand.



Oblivion: The Lost Diaries of Branwell Brontë is both a compelling reconstruction of the life of the famous literary sisters' often-misunderstood brother and a dramatic, sweeping portrayal of a century in rapid transition to modernity. It is a meticulous, loving tribute to the language, structure and themes of the Brontës' own works, as de la Motte at times weaves the very words of their correspondence, novels and poems seamlessly into his lively narrative.

Oblivion traces Branwell's meandering journey across the north of England, from the Fells of the Lake District to the ocean cliffs of Scarborough, from the smoky streets of industrial Halifax to the windswept moors above Haworth, encountering such notables as Hartley Coleridge and Franz Liszt. Through him we meet poets, sculptors, booksellers, prostitutes, publicans, railway workers, farmers, manufacturers and clergymen; through his experiences we contemplate the ineffable but fleeting ecstasy of sex, the existence of God, the effects of drugs and alcohol and the nature of addiction itself, the desire for fame, and the bitter resentment of artists and intellectuals who feel unappreciated by an increasingly materialistic, mechanised society.

This sprawling story is a moving, thought-provoking page-turner that seeks not only to understand the roots of Branwell Brontë's tragic end but also to unearth the striking similarities of character between him and his now-famous sisters.


Buy a copy here:

No comments:

Post a Comment