During the Christmas Season of 2012, Writer and Cordon Bleu Chef Elizabeth Phillips imagines a conversation with novelist Charles Dickens…
EP: Do you have a Facebook page, blog or twitter account?
CD: Yes I have a blog. It is a great tool to get feed back from my readers and I can use their input as I continue my story line.
EP: Do you believe that your works transcend the written word and if so, which media format do you prefer to best represent your works and Why?
CD: I choose film and television. As you know, many of my works have been made into films and have enjoyed great success. I believe it is a better medium than stage, which is limited to modest sets. I write with great detail and description about the streets and their denizens. Film and TV has the capacity to capture pages of this detail in a single frame. I believe that the public still has the desire to invest some time in a great story. Today we are at the risk of losing this ability to concentrate.
EP: Your works achieve instant success and great popularity, much like J.K. Rowling- How do you account for your popularity?
CD: It is about the subject of my novels- these are real people that we can relate to with all their challenges, failures, victories and perseverance. I use humor and give great detail about dress and manners and relationships. At the same time we see both the poor and the rich- the upstairs/downstairs. Think of the enormous success of Downton Abbey -This allows the reader to invest themselves in the characters. Suspense plays a vital role- We are waiting for the next chapter in the lives of these characters – of a novel a movie, in essence a continuation of a great story. I have been accused of creating real characters and at the same time others say caricatures- I say I do both. Consider the fabulous success of Soap Operas and reality Television Shows.
EP: What is your opinion about how the youth of today are being required to be over educated to find work?
CD: I had to leave school at an early age to work. This impacted me deeply and I became a champion for social reform for children. I believe that we are sending our children into a world where they graduate in debt and employers are insisting on post- graduate degrees while offering few promises in return. To me this is as equally oppressing.
EP: Today we find so many Charities suffering from Donor fatigue Mr. Dickens tell me what Charity do you support?
CD: I believe that poverty and homelessness are two of the most serious Social issues facing us today. I would support charities that offer shelter and education to help the hungry and the homeless and the disadvantaged. The in from the Cold program is one- but we need both immediate and long- term solutions.
EP: Staying married seems increasingly challenging, Do you think that your very difficult childhood or the fact that you had so little time for your wife was the reason for the break up of your marriage after 22 years and leaving your 10 children?
CD: I do. I spent most of my time writing and even when traveling abroad with my family I was researching for my novels. I did not spend enough time with my wife or my children. I was more determined to initiate social reform and I lost sight of my family.
EP: In “A Tale of Two Cities” you wrote that France “rolled with exceeding smoothness down hill, making paper money and spending it….” Considering our current economic woes, would you feel comfortable substituting the Western World for France?
CD: I would be very comfortable indeed. The facts speak for themselves.
EP: : In Todays debt crisis what economic advice would you give to the world leaders?
CD: Here, I shall refer to David Copperfield‘s Mr. Micawber: “if a man had twenty pounds a year, and spent nineteen pounds nineteen shillings and sixpence, he would be happy; but a shilling spent the other way would make him wretched”.
EP: Would you consider being the next Iron Chef or would preparing a meal on dinner party wars be more your style?
CD: I would probably lean toward the dinner party wars and hope that the dinner goes better than when David Copperfield’s Dora ruins the roast!
EP: What would you most like to be remembered for?
CD: That I made a difference. I would hope that I created a set of works that both delighted and entertained my audience while I drew attention to the need for Social Reform. This need continues and I hope that my works will further this cause into posterity.
EP: In the Spirit of Christmas a warm thank you Mr. Dickens.
CD: It was a pleasure to speak with you Miss Phillips. Merry Christmas to you and your family.