Q. What inspires your writing?
A. In general I’m inspired by all kinds of things—admiration for the natural world, an avid interest in history, an enduring amazement at the sheer fact of being alive—but in the case of my new book, Lost & Found, I was mostly inspired by the two people who form the heart of it: my astonishing father, a Jewish refugee who emerged from a childhood full of poverty and violence to become a wonderfully curious, compassionate, brilliant, joyful adult, and my equally astonishing partner, who has dazzled me from the day we met, and who gave me the great gift of inspiring me to write a love story.
Q. What is your favorite thing about being a writer?
A. The permission to keep learning. In the course of just the last few years, my work has given me an excuse to study the geology of earthquakes, the biology of stinkbugs, the history of the Muslim community in Wyoming, the mystery of how animals navigate around the planet, and countless more subjects, all of which I’ve found fascinating. I feel incredibly fortunate to have a job that allows me to constantly educate myself about something new.
Q. What is the toughest part of being a writer?
A. Until I met my partner, I would have said that it was the loneliness. Even if you have wonderful friends and colleagues and a writing community, the work itself mostly happens inside your own head, often in long, silent stretches, and it can be difficult to spend so much time alone with your own thoughts and problems and worries and doubts. I’m delighted to say that marrying a very happy writer who is also a very gifted editor resolved that issue for me. Now the only tough part of writing is convincing myself to stop procrastinating and sit down and do it.
Q. If you could not be a writer, what would you do/be?
A. That’s a tricky one, since I’ve wanted to write for so long—and by now have been writing for so long—that it’s hard for me to imagine myself doing anything else. But I suppose if I could pick an alternate life, I’d be some a botanist or ecologist or wildlife biologist—someone whose job involved spending a lot of time outdoors playing close attention to the natural world.
Q. What would the story of your life be entitled?
A. Since I just wrote the story of my life, I guess it would be called Lost & Found!
Q. What is your favorite book of all time?
A. An impossible question for a book-lover! But here are some books that have a special place in my private canon: George Eliot’s Middlemarch, Henry James’s The Portrait of a Lady, James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room, Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead novels, and many, many volumes of poetry, from good old reliable Robert Frost to the contemporary oddball genius Anne Carson.
Q. Which character from ANY book are you most like?
A. I don’t know, but I can tell you that as a kid I identified strongly with Jo March, of Little Women.
Q. What character from one/all of your book(s) are you most like?
A. Writing a memoir makes this one easy to answer: I’m most like myself!
Q. Which book would you love to take a weekend vacation inside of?
A. T.H. White’s The Once and Future King, but only if I can choose to be in the comedic first part or the romantic second part, not the tragic final part.
Q. What is your favorite season?
A. Spring, when everything is coming into bloom, which is also when my partner and I met. (Though our daughter was born in August, so now it’s a toss-up.)
Q. What inspired your book cover(s)? Or what is your favorite book cover and why?
A. I won’t spoil it, but there’s a crucial (and true-to-life) cameo by a falling star in Lost & Found, so I was thrilled when the designers put one on the cover.
Q. Are you working on something new?
A. Always! But those are shorter articles for my magazine job; I’m very happy to have Lost & Found out in the world and I’m not in a hurry just yet to write another book.
Q. Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
A. Just that I’m grateful to you for being interested in books, and I hope you’ll check out Lost & Found. If you’re worried about picking up a grief memoir right now, you should know that although I do write about my sadness over losing my incredible dad, the book is mostly about all the astonishing things we find in life—above all, if we’re lucky, happiness and love.