In this episode, National Book Award finalist Lauren Groff discusses her newest novel, Matrix, with editor Adam Ross. Groff explains the book’s initial conceptualization, from a friend’s lecture on medieval nuns to Groff’s longtime love for the twelfth-century poet Marie de France. Groff explains that after the 2016 presidential election, she “started this story in order to spend time in a female utopia.” One stay at an abbey and many index cards later, Matrix was born.
Groff also shares what drives her as a writer: “I think [we] only write novels if there’s this great darkness that we want to look into. A darkness at the center of who we are . . . and so the act of writing fiction is the act of trying your hardest to put light into there.” Groff reveals how Matrix explores this darkness “in this time where the hierarchy was a very intense cage for women,” through the struggle for feminine agency.
In addition to Matrix, Groff is the author of five other books of fiction. She is the recipient of the ABA Indies Choice Award, the Story Prize, and France’s Grand Prix de l’Héroïne. She has also been a finalist for the Kirkus Prize and the National Book Award.
This episode is produced by Hayden Dunbar and edited by ProPodcast Solutions with music by Annie Bowers. Don’t miss any of our conversations with some of today’s best writers. Subscribe to the Sewanee Review Podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.