Describe your latest book.
No Time to Wave Goodbye is the continuation of my first novel, The Deep End of the Ocean. In it, an eerie crime prompted by living too much in the spotlight forces the Cappadoras to coalesce from a group of biologically related adults to a family. It's risky. I hope people like it.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Denise Mina, a Scots writer. Start with the hideously named and wonderfully realized Field of Blood.
Writers are better liars than other people: true or false? Why, or not?
I don't know about others, but I could convince you I'm the Queen of Denmark.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
There's a tree that grows in Brooklyn. Some people call it the Tree of Heaven. No matter where its seed falls, it makes a tree which struggles to reach the sky. It grows in boarded-up lots and out of neglected rubbish heaps. It grows up out of cellar gratings. It is the only tree that grows out of cement. It grows lushly...survives without sun, water, and seemingly without earth. It would be considered beautiful except that there are too many of it.
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn isn't just one of my favorite books; it's one of the best books ever written by anyone. I named my daughter Francie Nolan after the main character, because I thought she would be that tree, struggling up with a widowed mom and nothing to nurture her except my love. Now, I feel that way about the two girls we are adopting from Ethiopia. It's a strong, strong theme, a big deal in my life.
Have you ever made a literary pilgrimage?
Yes, three times to the parsonage in Haworth where Emily and Charlotte Brontë grew up.
Describe the best breakfast of your life.
My son is a chef... almost. He's like an orderly chef, still studying. Last year, he made me a Spanish omelet for Mother's Day. He pulled the yucky stringy things out of the eggs. (which I hate thinking about; I hate even thinking about the fact that eggs are one cell.) Dan even made the salsa from scratch.
Who's wilder on tour, rock bands or authors?
Well, I know plenty of authors who tour like Grand Funk Railroad, with groupies in every city, leather jackets on the expense account, and steak from room service... and those are women! I can't wait to get to my room and call my kids and, uh, read.
Talk about your vision of the ideal life.
Enough. Just enough. Neither too much money, food, champagne, social obligation, work, travel, or sleep. Except for children. I have too many for a normal person.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five Great Books about the Immigrant Experience
A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith: It's simply the best book about a life well lived in adversity. Not one punch pulled.
I'm a Stranger Here Myself by Bill Bryson: Bill Bryson moved back from England to the United States after living for 20 years in the UK. While on an airplane, I laughed so hard about this book that a flight attendant asked me If I needed a blanket or something.
A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier by Ishmael Beah: Beah was one of the boys who took up arms as an alternative to being murdered by thugs in Sierra Leone. His account of their march ("In the night, sometimes a lion would pull one of the boys away...") is plain, chilling, eloquent, and amazing.
Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather: A young Catholic priest goes to live among the Indians in New Mexico and learns the elemental meaning of mystery and grace. He dies a prelate of his church, very wise, respected, still in wonder, at a great age, "of having lived."
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: I think this book should be called "The Great Novel." Ultimately, it is about immigrant striving, racism, and rejection of the striver by the ignorant moneyed class.