Last Updated on February 12, 2023 by BiblioLifestyle
What was the last book that you read that you’d now recommend?
Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby van Pelt. It’s about an older, widowed woman who is befriended by an octopus, and it totally works.
Have you read any classics lately that you were reading for the first time?
Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neal Hurston. I’ve been aware of this book forever, but never got around to reading it until the pandemic. It’s heartbreaking and honest and powerful.
Do you re-read books? And if yes, what was your last re-read?
I rarely re-read books, because there are so many and time is short! The last book I re-read was Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass. Even after writing 50+ books, I feel like a beginner every time.
What are your go-to genres?
Fiction, romance, thriller. But I’m open to suggestions.
What is your favorite childhood book?
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White. I still think it’s one of the most flawless novels written for any age. The whole world is in that book.
What books are on your bedside table right now?
Hmm, let’s see. The Heart’s Invisible Fury by John Boyne, Between Two Kingdoms by Suleika Jaouad, Cover Story by Susan Rigetti, the Anthropologie Catalogue, Drinking French by David Liebovitz, and an iPad. My nightstand is overflowing at the moment.
Do you bookmark or dogear your page in a book?
>>shamefaced blush<< I cannot tell a lie. I dogear.
What is your ideal reading setting?
In summer, on my patio. In the winter, by the fire.
Tell us about your favorite indie bookstore?
The Lost and Found Bookshop on Perdita Street in San Francisco has every single feature I love in a bookstore–huge, enticing selection, friendly staff who post shelf talkers for the new books they love, quirky author events, a coffee bar, big cushy chairs, free wifi, a cat, and collectible old books with a touch of mystery. The one downside is that the shop exists only in my imagination.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
What an interesting question! I had to think about that for a bit. Maybe when I read the poem “Godfrey Gordon Gustavas Gore” by William Brighty Rands. The language was so playful and vivid and memorable. To this day, I can recite whole lines from that piece.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
Ah, so many! The Pearl S. Buck house in Bucks County, PA. Victor Hugo’s house in the Place des Vosges in Paris. Hemingway’s place in Key West. Steinbeck’s Positano. When I was in high school, I lived in Versailles, and I remember going to Cimetière des Gonards–the grave site of Edith Wharton. Her novel, The Buccaneers, is a personal favorite.
Where do you get most of your writing and editing done?
In a Clairefontaine notebook with a fountain pen filled with peacock blue ink. I carry it everywhere I go–the sofa, the patio, the bed, my boat, the car, long flights…you name it! As for editing, that has to be done on a printout, so it’s a lot messier. I do have a proper writing studio, and I spend plenty of editing time there.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Exhausts me! Why doesn’t it burn more calories?!
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
A few. Not too many. I sold the second or third complete manuscript I wrote, back in 1986. I’ve published a book or two every year since then.
Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
I don’t read reviews, good or bad. It’s a distraction, and since the book is already in print, there’s nothing the author can do to change it. A review is not personal. It’s about the way the story lands with a particular reader. And everyone reads through their own lens. I’m grateful to anyone who takes the time to read and review my books. Serious, sincere criticism is vital to a career. If there’s something noteworthy in a review, my publisher will bring it to my attention.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Figure out how to write a first draft on a computer. It will save you gobs of time!
When you’re not reading or writing, what are you doing?
Looking after my 90-year-old mother, cooking, boating, skiing, laughing with my husband, playing with my grandchildren, planning trips and adventures.
What are your three favorite things right now?
My 2 little rescue dogs, Daisy and Dug (I have to count them as one). My Hobie Eclipse pedal board. And this bottle of Empress gin (you said “right now,” right?).
Your favorite travel destination and why?
Although it’s hard to pick a favorite, I’d have to say the south of France. I spent a lot of time there while researching Map of the Heart and I absolutely love everything about the region–the people, the scenery, the history, the food, the weather. Map of the Heart was inspired by that region.
What’s your favorite meal and go-to drink order?
Pasta with morel mushrooms and peas, and a paper plane (rye, Aperol, amaro, lemon).
What six people, living or dead, would you invite to dinner a party?
My late, great dad, Jane Addams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Alice B. Toklas, James Baldwin, and Pearl S. Buck. I would have so many questions.
If a movie was made of your life, what genre would it be, who would play you?
It would be a feel-good drama, I hope! And since we’re fantasizing, how about Sandra Bullock as the lead?
What’s the last TV show or movie you watched that was really good?
The Bear. I think it was on Hulu, about a Chicago restaurant. It’s fantastic and I think starting to take the world by storm.
You have to sing karaoke; what song do you pick?
“No Rain” by Blind Melon. Favorite line: “All I can do is read a book to stay away, and it rips my life away but it’s a great escape.”
If you were being taken to a deserted island and could only bring one book, what would it be?
Yikes. Torture. I might bring something by Marcel Proust–Du cote de chez Swann or À la recherche du temps perdu because I’ll never be bored enough to read them otherwise, but I know they’re masterworks, and I should get to know them.