Your least favorite aspects of writing?
I tend to write long and tighten up later. This allows me to weave in all the best details that I have gathered over the course of my research, but I always hate “killing my babies,” as we writers call it when we have to edit out certain parts that we love, but ultimately don’t have room for.
Who are some of your favorite authors/books?
For fiction: Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass;
Michael Connelly, The Poet; Jess Walter, Citizen Vince and The Zero;
Ethan Canin, Ann Patchett, and Amy Hempel. For non-fiction: Tracy Kidder, Home Town.
What are you reading right now?
A series of Sandra Brown thrillers. She is good at building suspense and tension, and I like the pacing of her storytelling, as she layers in the back story without slowing down the momentum of the present-day narration.
If you could have a dinner party and invite five authors — dead or alive — who would they be and what would you serve them?
Lewis Carroll, Tracy Kidder, Henry James, Mary Gaitskill and Elinor Lipman. I don’t know what I’d serve them, but I think I’d be too fascinated to eat, and I’m guessing most of them would rather drink anyway.
What is a book that you wish you could say that you had written and why?
Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass, because it is a highly complex and intellectual book, but it can also be read by children and enjoyed on different levels by all different age groups.
What is the greatest piece of advice (for writing and/or just living) that you have heard?
Ass in chair. People who say, “I’m a writer,” or “I want to write a book,” but take no action to do so, drive me crazy. It takes great discipline and a willingness to be alone – a lot – to be a professional writer.