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Isabel Allende on writing, grandparents, loss

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When Isabel Allende starts a new book, she always begins writing on Jan. 8. She’s superstitious that way, because it’s an important literary anniversary. On that day in 1981, she wrote a letter to her dying grandfather. The letter blossomed into her first novel, “The House of the Spirits.” It became an international bestseller that won an award for novel of the year in her native Chile. More than 30 years later, Allende has amassed many more honors and written her 18th book, a contemporary novel titled “Maya’s Notebook.”

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