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Authors, readers, critics, media — and booksellers.


Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld

Describe your latest book.
The Enchanted is a story narrated by a man on death row. The novel was inspired by my work as a death penalty investigator and some of the questions I face. Why do people do such terrible things to each other? What is the meaning of redemption? While the setting is grim, the novel is a celebration of our human ability to find joy, hope, and beauty even in the most despairing of circumstances.

What's the strangest or most interesting job you've ever had?
I would say my current job as a death penalty investigator is the most interesting job I've had. The strangest? In my early 20s I worked as a bartender in a famous Portland punk rock club. It was right down the street from Powell's, back before the area gentrified. Many Powell's employees would come down to drink after work. On slow nights we'd play backgammon and talk music, art, and books. On busy nights we'd duck the flying beer bottles.

Writers are better liars than other people: True or false? Why or why not?
A good writer is the best truth teller of all. A bad writer passes on clichés, which are lies.

How do you relax?
I love to work out. And drink red wine. Not at the same time.

How did the last good book you read end up in your hands, and why did you read it?
I'm reading an advance copy of Anthony Doerr's All the Light We Cannot See. I scored it at a bookseller's convention.

What is your idea of absolute happiness?
Being loved.

Why do you write?
I used to write nonfiction because I had an idea to explore. Now I write fiction, in part because of the absolute joy it brings me to be immersed in a story, and in part because I believe a novel can tell a deeper, more complex truth.

What are some of your favorite blogs?
I've been obsessed lately with these big family blogs, especially ones by parents who adopted numerous children. I hope it's because they are leading me to an idea or revelation, and not because I am going to adopt a dozen more kids. I think I am trying to decide if I am done adding to my family.

Five interesting and unexpected books set in Oregon:
Ricochet River by Robin Cody
Naked against the Rain by Rick Rubin
The Crying Tree by Naseem Rakha
Mink River by Brian Doyle
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin

÷ ÷ ÷

Rene Denfeld is an author, journalist, and death penalty investigator. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, the Oregonian, and the Philadelphia Inquirer, and is the author of four books, including the international bestseller The New Victorians: A Young Woman's Challenge to the Old Feminist Order and her new novel, The Enchanted.

Books mentioned in this post

  1. The New Victorians: A Young Woman's... New Trade Paper $19.25
  2. The Enchanted
    Sale Hardcover $10.98
  3. The Orchardist (P.S.)
    Used Trade Paper $7.95
  4. Mink River
    Used Trade Paper $10.00
  5. Naked Against the Rain: The People... Used Hardcover $44.00
  6. Ricochet River
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  7. The Crying Tree
    Used Trade Paper $6.95
  8. All the Light We Cannot See
    New Hardcover $27.00

Rene Denfeld is the author of The Enchanted

3 Responses to "Powell’s Q&A: Rene Denfeld"

    Derby April 14th, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Rene was a great vocalist with the Portland punk band Sin Hipster, 1980's.

    Derby April 17th, 2014 at 10:45 am

    Rene was a great vocalist for Portland punk band Sin Hipster in the 1980's. Good to see her succeed.

    Julane Grant April 29th, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    I would love to hear from Rene. She lived next door to me when she was growing up. I would like to drink some red wine with her, her mom and her sister. Would be fun to catch up. I hope this is possible through this site.

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