Describe your new book.
The Nature of Jade is about a girl who works with the elephants at the zoo near her home, and who, through her involvement with them, becomes involved with a boy and his baby. Jade also suffers from anxiety, but the book is not a "Girl with Anxiety" book. It's about human nature and animal nature and fear and about the way fear can make us stuck. It's about the necessity of moving on even when that means leaving things behind.
If you could choose any story to live in, which story would it be? Why?
Just one? Well, then, probably
A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway. Paris in the 1920s, during the early days of his career, hanging out in cafes in the company of Fitzgerald and Joyce and Ford Maddox Ford (always loved his name). It was a time when Hemingway and his wife existed on nearly nothing, a time when "we were very poor, and very happy," and when the city was home to extraordinary expatriate writers discussing their craft and living fully.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
Well, I'd have to choose F. Scott Fitzgerald for poetic passages open one of his works at random and you're likely to find something that's breathtakingly beautiful. This, from
The Great Gatsby: "There was music from my neighbor's house through the summer nights. In his blue garden men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars."
How did the last good book you read end up in your hands?
The last really good book I read was a compilation of three novellas by Andre Dubus (We Don't Live Here Anymore). I discovered it on a wandering library trip, one of my most favorite kinds of days, when you go to the library with lots of time on your hands and can just meander and peruse and gather until your arms are full. I am ridiculously happy on those trips, though I usually have to go alone because no one I know quite has the library-stamina I have.
What is your favorite breakfast cereal?
Lucky Charms. But I'm getting a little cranky about their continued efforts to "new and improve" it. What's wrong with hearts and clovers and moons? Now there's this disgusting purple blob that has some sort of glitter-ish stuff on it. It reminds me of something a kid makes his mother in kindergarten. On occasion, I also redeem myself with granola or other packing-material type healthy cereal, or Chex, which wins for Biggest Box.
What is your idea of bliss?
Bliss is the ocean, a towel on the sand, the sun out, the chance to swim in waves or walk dragging a stick behind you, a good book, a cold drink.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I get a lot of letters from my readers, many who read
The Queen of Everything and found meaning in it after going through a hard experience themselves, or who love a certain character or passage in one of the books and want to share that. My oldest fan is eighty-five and lives in London she was slightly in love with Travis Becker, the bad boy in Honey, Baby, Sweetheart. I get some letters from rabid folks dooming me to hell for the profanity in my books and who urge me to mend my ways. But the most memorable exchange was with a girl from Poland who was having a bad relationship and was asking my advice. Since I am by no means an expert on the subject (my daughter said, "She's asking YOU?" Ha, very funny), I kept encouraging her to listen to herself. Her situation was eventually resolved, but I'll treasure our bumbling communication through language barriers, and the idea of our shared humanity played out in very different parts of the world.
Make a question of your own, then answer it.
Why did you become a writer?
I became a writer because I love books, and I believe in their power. Even more, I love images and sentences and particular words and their beauty and humor and the way they look on the page. I like the word aubergine (even if it means eggplant), but think oevre sounds like a boiled egg. A passage in a book can make you cry, it can make you think differently, it can make you remember something from long ago. To be a writer is to connect and to play and to attempt to see clearly and understand. It astounds me regularly that feeling things deeply and writing them down is basically my job description. It is one of the wackiest and most privileged professions, if you can call it that at all. Writing is not something you do, but who you are. It's the way I came.