If you could cook dinner for any author, dead or alive, who would it be? What would you make?
Anne Carson. I wouldn’t cook. I would make my boyfriend do the cooking. He is a much better cook than I am. I’d probably have him do a charcuterie board, a salad with his homemade dressing (he makes the best dressing), and seafood chowder, with lobster of course.
What scares you the most about the writing process? How do you combat your fears?
That I don’t have the self discipline to sit down and ever actually finish anything substantial. I wouldn’t say this fear has been combated. It’s alive and well.
Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Vasya Petrovna from The Winternight Trilogy
What books are on your nightstand?
“Adventures in Tandem Nursing” by Hilary Flower
“Braiding Sweetgrass” by Robin Wall Kimmerer
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
The em dash. It helps make sense of the way my mind works—too many thoughts going on all at once that are constantly interrupting one another.
What book were you supposed to read in high school, but never did?
Too many to count. I’ve always been a slow reader. I like to take my time. As with every aspect of my life, I abhor being rushed. I started most of the books I was supposed to read, but never finished them as quickly as I was expected too.
What inanimate object would you thank in your acknowledgements?
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both. Writing something new is always exhilarating. Revising it is exhausting.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Believing that nothing you write is, or will ever be good enough. Which is what I feel about my writing all the time. I don’t really have a solution, except to just keep writing anyway.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
Having my phone anywhere near me.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
For sure. The human brain can only process so much input. When my life feels calm, I like to read books that are dense and complex, and require all of my attention. But when I’m stressed out and have a lot going on, I like to read books that are easy, and don’t require a lot of effort. For example, when I was studying abroad in France my sophomore year of high school, I felt so tired all the time trying to learn and process a new language everyday all day. This is super embarrassing, but my host family had the Twilight Series in English, so I read all four of them in 3 weeks. I’d read them back in middle school, so there was absolutely no reason for me to re-read them except for the fact that I was homesick, and they were a nice little getaway for my brain.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I suppose they could be a writer, I just don’t know that they would be one I would have any particular interest in reading.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
“Giovanni’s Room” by James Baldwin. Maybe it’s not underappreciated, but absolutely everyone should read it, because it’s one of the best novels ever written.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
What do you owe the real people upon whom you base your characters?
Nothing. In the words of Anne Lamott, “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I have one half-finished novel that I’ve been working on, on and off for the past ten years. Parts of it appear in this collection. I hope to finish it someday.
What does literary success look like to you?
J.K. Rowling. Stephen King. I set the bar low for myself.
What’s the best way to market your books?
I have absolutely no idea.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Wanting them to feel authentic, but knowing that they probably never will.
What did you edit out of this book?
Things I was embarrassed about having written. Things that didn’t need to be there.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Well, right now I’m a full time mom with a one year old boy, and a baby girl on the way, and that’s a whole lot of work. I think I’d like to teach writing classes some day, if I ever get to go back to school. I’d also like to do a lot of my own writing. Writing is really the only thing that makes sense to me to do, as far as having a career goes.
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