Describe your latest book.
I'm presently working on another saga entitled A Gathering of Shadows. The story of the three featured characters has grabbed me and won't let me go, and I feel as compelled to write of their lives as I did those of Mary and Percy and Matt and Rachel in Roses. Based on the adage "Old sins cast long shadows" from which the title is taken, Gathering follows the life journeys of three friends from the time they form an inextricable bond in the fifth grade through the three parts of the novel: the Beginning Years, the Seasoning Years, and the Reckoning Years. After a 22-year separation, the three friends — dubbed the saint, the sinner, and the angel, in high school — reunite when they are 40 years old, in the Texas panhandle town that bred them.
Introduce one other author you think people should read, and suggest a good book with which to start.
Willa Cather needs no introduction, but perhaps a reintroduction since she wrote mainly throughout the '20s. She is noted for her books about pioneers, many of them immigrants, who settle the Midwest during the late 1800s. Her books feature female characters of strength and courage and vision, but my favorite is Death Comes for the Archbishop, published in 1927. It is a rich and powerful tale of two priests who are dispatched to the endless prairies of New Mexico to re-energize a slumbering parish.
Offer a favorite sentence or passage from another writer.
The passage that has always stuck with me for some reason comes from the last page of Erich Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front.
He fell in November of 1918 on a day that that was so quiet and still on the whole front that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the western front. He fell forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over, one saw that he could not have suffered long. On his face was an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.
What is your astrological sign? If you don't like what you were born with, to what sign would you change and why?
I love being a Virgo. I'm comfortable with its traits. I was born on September 7, and as far as I know, I embody most of the characteristics of my astrological sign, both good and bad. Virgos are generally organized, methodical, and efficient, and I enjoy being all those things. They relieve stress. But those traits also tend to make others see us as picky, critical, and bossy in our attention to detail and quest for perfection. I have long accepted that the side of the coin one wishes to critique is in the eye of the beholder.
What is your idea of absolute happiness?
My answer is simple: To be able to eat all you want and never gain an ounce.
Share an interesting experience you've had with one of your readers.
I've had two. One occurred long ago in the mid-'80s when a romance novel of mine, Ryan's Hand, was displayed on a table in a local bookstore. A woman was perusing the cover, and when she saw that I had stopped at the table, she said, "I've heard so much about this book. I wonder if it's any good."
"Not bad," I said.
"Oh? Have you read it?" she asked.
"I wrote it," I said.
She squealed and bought numerous copies.
The other occurred recently when a New Yorker read Roses and wrote me a fan letter. She said that she read the novel straight through without sleep for 28 hours. And she was 89 years old!
Name the best television series of all time and explain why it's the best.
Law and Order, hands down. The writing, dialogue, characters, situations, relevancy, timeliness, and outcomes are so genuine, so close to the real thing, what's not to believe?
Dogs, cats, budgies, or turtles?
For me, dogs. I adore them. We had Wimpy Burger, a cross between a beagle and a basenji, for almost 20 years. My husband would ask, "At 18, don't they go to college?" I miss him still and can hardly pass a canine child without patting its head.
Recommend five or more books on a single subject of personal interest or expertise.
Five great books about family:
The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls
Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight by Alexandra Fuller
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Distant Land of My Father by Bo Caldwell