Describe your latest project.
I began work on a new novel last summer, just after I sold The Historian; I felt it was important for me to get back to writing right away to draw that magic, private circle again. I've been sitting on the subject matter, as the project is still fragile and raw and I don't want to jinx the writing process. It does involve history again, but in a completely different way.
If someone were to write your biography, what would be the title and subtitle?
Elizabeth Kostova: The Housewife and the Vampire
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good place to start.
One of my favorite contemporary fiction writers is A. S. Byatt. Newcomers to her work might want to start with the bestselling novel Possession, a wonderful literary-historical detective story, and go on to her other challenging and beautifully researched novels and novellas, such as Still Life and Angels and Insects. She's a particularly good read for anyone who loves art and art history.
What makes your favorite pair of shoes better than the rest?
My favorite pair of shoes is a pair of old wooden Danish clogs with red flowers embroidered on the top. I'm so busy that I need shoes I can put on and take off very quickly, or kick off while I'm writing, and the flowers cheer me up during the eight-month Michigan winter.
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
I ate the best breakfast of my life in Istanbul in May 2004, on the rooftop of an old hotel overlooking the domes of the Hagia Sophia and the Blue Mosque on one side and sparkling blue salt water on the other. I had spent years researching the city for my novel and there I was in reality at last. I was with my father and one of my sisters, who were both as excited about a first visit to Istanbul as I was. There were roses blooming in pots along the railing of the rooftop; we had a whole day of sightseeing ahead of us; and breakfast was eggs, olives, bread, feta cheese, and hot tea. I still crave that breakfast.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I sent an early copy of The Historian to some dear friends in Seattle, husband and wife who are artists and great readers. They were delighted and wrote me that they'd agreed between them to let her read the copy first, but a few days later they sent me a digital photo showing the book cut in half down the spine, with a box cutter lying on top. She had gotten halfway through, but he wanted to start, and they needed to be in different places the next day.
What do you dislike most?
War. The more I study history, the more I feel we need to rethink our disastrous foreign policies.