What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
Dolen Perkins-Valdez’s TAKE MY HAND. Heartbreaking and beautiful.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
If you consider Georgette Heyer’s works classics (and I absolutely do) then FREDERICA. Which is wonderful!
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I reread quite a lot, and my most recent was Adriana Trigiani’s BIG STONE GAP. It put a big smile on my face, just like the first time.
What are your go-to genres?
Historical fiction, rom-coms, sci-fi, mysteries…I love just about all genres.
What is your favorite childhood book?
LARK by Sally Watson. She wrote the best YA historic fiction for young readers, always starring adventurous young girls.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Larry Tye’s biography of Joe McCarthy and the Red Scare (research; terrifying), Anika Scott’s THE SOVIET SISTERS (reading for a cover quote; wonderful); Weina dai Randel’s next novel NIGHT ANGELS (cannot wait!).
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
Dog-ear. I’m going to hell, I know.
What is your ideal reading setting?
Curled up on my living-room couch, dogs piled and snoozing at my feet, glass of wine, Miles Davis or the Red Sox game playing.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
Warwick’s of La Jolla, CA. I love going there, and I’ve had so many wonderful events with them!
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
When, in sixth grade, I looked down my nose at a bully who towered over me and (despite my terror) managed to drawl contemptuously “Don’t be so agoraphobic.” The word had nothing to do with the bully or the situation, but I guessed he didn’t know that, and I was right–he turned red-faced and stamped off rather than picking on me further. That was when I learned that people can be intimidated by words they don’t understand. This isn’t a power to be used lightly, but sometimes it will save you from being stuffed into a gym locker.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
The gloriously beautiful reading room at the Boston Public Library. I have gone there to read, in delicious communal silence among the long glass windows and green-shaded lamps, and I have also gone there with my laptop to write, and turned out some good words.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
On the ottoman in my home office, laptop on a pillow in my lap, some good thematic music playing.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both, oddly. I love the pleasantly-tired feeling I get after turning out 2,000 reasonably good words–it’s like the mental equivalent of having worked out hard, and having pleasantly-sore muscles.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
At least thirteen!
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I’ll read good reviews if my publisher, my blog-tour reviewers, or my friends pass them on to me, but otherwise I don’t read reviews. If a review looks bad, I keep scrolling–otherwise it’ll get in my head and rattle around in a non-productive way, so I’ve learned to steer clear.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
My first book had snakes in Ireland. Kid, do your research. (Hey, I was only 10!)
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
Watching baseball, walking my dogs, reading aloud to the Overseas Gladiator while he cooks. Right now we’re reading Bonnie Garmus’s LESSONS IN CHEMISTRY, and both enjoying it hugely.
What are your three favorite things right now?
Long walks, reading for pleasure, period dramas on TV.
Your favorite travel destination and why?
Bermuda. There’s a very quiet beachside hotel where the OG & I went on our honeymoon, then again on our 5th & 10th anniversaries. It’s stunning and silent and I always come away refreshed down to the bones.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Depends where I am. Right now I’d kill to be sitting in a Viennese cafe, where I’d order schnitzel with new potatoes and lemon wedges, and a big glass of the local Gruner Weltliner.
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner a party?
Elizabeth I, Lyudmila Pavlichenko, George Sand, Rosalind Franklin, William Shakespeare, and Oscar Wilde.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
It would be an extremely dull domestic comedy, because writers don’t have exciting lives! So can I be played by Nicola Coughlan, because she can make anything entertaining.
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
ONLY MURDERS IN THE BUILDING.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
“Surface Pressure” from ENCANTO. That song is my life.
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
My Kindle, loaded with a million books. Still counts as one!