Who is your biggest literary crush, author or character?
Muriel Spark is my idol, she is funny and lyrical and everything a writer should be.
What books are on your nightstand?
P.G. Wodehouse for laughter. And lots of poetry-- from Shakespeare to Robert Frost to Louise Gluck. My heroine quotes a lot or poetry, and so do I when I’m not writing it.
Favorite punctuation mark? Why?
SEMICOLON because it’s rarely used these day. I don’t admire short choppy sentences all that much. .
If you could write an inspirational quote on the mirrors of aspiring writers, what would you write?
Read as much as possible, and then read more. Don’t think, don’t take a course, just write.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Wordiness and trying to use fancy words when plain ones work fine.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
READING! And also listening to music.
Have you ever gotten writer’s block?
No, I just write something different. Sometimes, writing needs to be put aside, and I work on a completely different sort of piece.
Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
I assume we’re talking fiction. I don’t think all fiction is highly emotional-- science fiction, for example, often depends on ideas, not feelings. But my kind of writing does depend on feeling. I often laugh and cry as I am writing dialogue.
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?
On its own, I hope. I write in many different genres, including poetry, but astute readers can find links-- movies, for example, flow through everything.
What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Agatha Christie. I hated her as a young woman, but now I enjoy her tight plots
and wonderful sense of humor.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
My older brother read me Edgar Allen Poe at bedtime, and wow, that was it.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Oooh, many, but I highly recommend MISS MOLE by E.H. Young, which is feminist, and soulful, and also, bravely has an optimistic ending.
What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
I enjoy writing men, and feel sort gender-fluid when I am writing from a male POV. I think all fiction writers have this gender-switching trick in their brain. I think many male writers like Henry James write terrific women.
What did you edit out of this book?
This book was shortened considerably from its original version. I took out a lot of chapters that were funny, yes, but didn’t move the plot along. I’m ruthless when it comes to editing.
If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
I did work successfully as a market researcher, and I enjoyed it very much. Like Bella in Closet Feminist, I have an analytical mind, and like using it. Market research involves understanding people, just in a different way from fiction writing.
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