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caption: Left to right: Kristen Millares Young, Sea of Tranquility, and Emily St. John Mandel
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Left to right: Kristen Millares Young, Sea of Tranquility, and Emily St. John Mandel
Credit: Courtesy of the authors and Simon & Schuster Publishing

A wild literary ride from rural Vancouver Island to Station Eleven and Sea of Tranquility

In Emily St. John Mandel’s new novel, Sea of Tranquility, we meet Olive Llewellyn, the best-selling author of a pandemic novel, on book tour in the year 2203. People who come to Olive’s events sometimes say awful things. In this conversation, Mandel explains how she pulled many of those expressions from her own tours.

Mandel drew acclaim in 2014 with the publication of her novel Station Eleven, which tells the story of life during and after an apocalyptic flu pandemic. It was nominated for the National Book Award and won the Arthur C. Clarke Award. For obvious reasons, at the beginning of 2020 Station Eleven was suddenly ringing bells again. The HBO Max cable series based on the book rang even more bells when it premiered in late 2021.

Out of that whirlwind, Mandel came to Seattle recently to talk about her writing process, her writing choices, time travel, pandemics, real and literary anomalies, and the ride she’s been on. She was interviewed by Seattle-based writer and journalist Kristen Millares Young, author of the novel Subduction, and editor of Seismic, a Washington State Book Award finalist.

The Seattle Public Library presented this event, originally scheduled for March 2020, on April 18, 2022. Ultimately, Mandel took thoughtful, not awful, questions from the audience.