What you’re reading:
I’m reading a plethora of mysteries and thrillers as a way of escaping my own writing. This approach lets me read for sheer pleasure, without endlessly comparing my work to that of another author. I particularly enjoy Val McDermid – especially her wonderful character Tony Hill, and the fascinating relationship between Hill and Carol Jordan.
What you’re listening to:
Kaleo’s “A/B”, whenever I’m driving.
What you’re watching:
Shadow of a Doubt. Hitchcock’s visual prowess is extraordinary and instructive, every time I watch one of his films. And I watch them repeatedly.
There are so many! Those that instantly come to mind: salacious; conflagration; albondigas (in Spanish, it means meatballs – I just love the sound of it); mendicant; crepuscular; anathema; nadir; and a variety of expletives (which I’m deleting).
OK, on this I’m not even going to try – there is no such thing THE favourite. There are many beloved songs. I will give you two of my most beloved revenge songs, as that category appeals enormously just now (both of these by Mr. Dylan, who is more than a little skilled at invective): “Positively 4th Street” and “Idiot Wind”.
Your hero – literary or otherwise:
Abraham Lincoln – for his intelligence, wisdom, grace, and enormous courage – all bolstered by intense personal sacrifice.
The book you wish you’d written:
Madame Bovary (and, I suppose it goes without saying, but the entirety of Shakespeare’s works)
Without exception, every day I hike with my pit bull, Darwin. We do this very early in the morning, often before the sun has risen. Once he’s been fed, I sit down to write. When the writing is truly flowing, time disappears, and I’m wedded to my chair for hours, to the point of discomfort, thirst, and hunger. When the going is rough, I am more prone to check email repeatedly. I write for six or more hours per day, seven days a week, depending on my stamina. It is surprisingly exhausting work, if I’m doing a good job, if I’m truly feeling what the characters are feeling. I allow myself no excuses in terms of sitting down to write, and that self-discipline is fuelled by my sense that I have already wasted too much time (I’m sixty) and that I may have very little time left to me. There is very little that takes precedence over my writing. Too many characters, too many places and stories, remain in my head for me to engage in much work avoidance. And, honestly, it delights me. I feel privileged.
Best advice ever received: “Calm your ass down.”
If you could change one thing about the world:
I’d give the human animal more compassion.
Think of something beautiful:
Grey light, a thick snow falling in a hushed forest of ponderosa pines, a bright blue Steller’s jay flitting amongst the branches, and the sound of my hiking boots as they break the snow.
The most memorable sentence you’ve ever read:
The sentence that has haunted me over the past several months: “You’re in my blood like holy wine.” (Joni Mitchell, “A Case of You” – technically, a sentence I heard)
If you weren’t writing:
I’d be reading or hiking, sometimes with a limp.
Who would play the main characters in a film adaptation of The Atomic Weight of Love?
This list applies ONLY if I’m on the movie set and get to meet all of these actors.
Clay: Charlie Hunnam (Hmm….See which one she listed and knew immediately?)
Alden: a rumpled Colin Firth (the fantasy continues)
Meridian: two actresses – the younger I just don’t know; the more mature, Susan Sarandon, perhaps?
Best place to write?
In my home, in my quietude, with birds and clouds and maybe thunder outside my window. With my dog either dreaming nearby our outside sunning himself. I write nowhere else, in particular as I’m too easily distracted by sounds and others.
The Atomic Weight of Love is out now.