What books do you keep in the kitchen?
I keep books of poetry there along with the cookbooks. I try to read a poem every morning with my coffee. It’s the most important meal of the day.
What’s the best thing about writing a book?
The daily solitude of being in my study. Mostly, I savor the process of writing itself, inventing story, setting it to language, rewriting.
The hardest or least rewarding?
The daily solitude of being in my study. The best thing is also the hardest. For me, writing a novel goes on for years, and the solitude goes on, too. It tends to swallow me at times. I know it’s a problem when my husband sends the dog in to retrieve me.
What were your favorite books as a child? Do you have a favorite character or hero from those books?
I was a Nancy Drew girl. Also Grimms’ fairy tales. At 13 and 14, I was all about “Wuthering Heights” and “Lost Horizon.” At 15, it was Anne Frank. Alice in Wonderland was probably my favorite character. She’s a girl on a quest, meeting dangerous and wondrous creatures, alternately shrinking and growing. I reveled in her braveries.
Which novels have had the most impact on you as a writer? Is there a particular book that made you want to write?
Kate Chopin’s “The Awakening,” which I first read in college. The story of Edna Pontellier’s struggle with the limits her culture placed on women made a deep and lasting impression on me. “Jane Eyre” was the book that made me want to write.