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by Hedgebrook Staff

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Ayelet Waldman is a writer, activist and Hedgebrook alumna. We asked her about her work and about being a Woman Authoring Change.


Tell us about your work as a writer—do you write in multiple genres/forms?

I am primarily a novelist – that is the work I consider my “‘real” work. The hard stuff. The artistically satisfying stuff.  I also write personal essays, op eds, some reported pieces (though those usually have a personal edge) and even the odd interview. I have in the past couple of years started writing film and television scripts as well. Those are fun, and I very much enjoy the  collaborative process. I have yet to see any of those projects get on the air, but I have (eternally) high hopes.


Do you consider yourself an activist?

Yes, though I worry of late that my activism is more of the armchair variety. I recently edited an anthology of first person narratives of people in women’s prisons, which was a fairly boots-on-the-ground process, but much of my “activism” has involved writing about issues I care about, taking public positions, speaking at events that raise money. All things that are worthwhile and valid, though sometimes I worry that I am not taking enough personal risk on behalf of the issues that I care about.


Would you characterize your writing as activist? Why or why not?

Certainly. In my nonfiction I’ve written about prisoner rights, abortion rights, women’s issues, family issues, and race. Even in my fiction I deal with political issues like the injustices inherent in the War on Drugs, the rise of Women’s Suffrage, etc.


What impact do you hope your writing will have in the world?

I hope I will entertain people, and make them think. I hope that my words might cause someone to care about a person or situation they had never considered before.


What’s the best feedback you’ve received from a reader/audience member?

When someone tells me how relieved they feel to read something that I’ve written, because it expresses a thought or a feeling they’ve had but have been too afraid to speak about, that makes me feel like there’s a reason for me to be sitting in this chair, eking out my painful word count, day after day.


About Ayelet Waldman:

Ayelet Waldman is the author of Love and TreasureRed Hook Road and The New York Times bestseller Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace. Her novel Love and Other Impossible Pursuits was adapted into a film calledThe Other Woman starring Natalie Portman. Her personal essays and profiles of such public figures as Hillary Clinton have been published in a wide variety of newspapers and magazines, including The New York TimesVogueThe Washington Post, and The Wall Street Journal. Her radio commentaries have appeared on All Things Considered and The California Report.

Her newest novel, Love and Treasure, weaves a tale of contraband masterpieces, tragic love, and the unexpected legacies of forgotten crimes around the fascinating, true history of the Hungarian Gold Train in World War II. Learn more on her website: www.ayeletwaldman.com



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Hedgebrook supports visionary women writers whose stories and ideas shape our culture now and for generations to come. The opinions expressed here are not necessarily representative of the opinions of Hedgebrook, its staff or board members.

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