Current Release: Solsbury Hill
What's your book about?
It's about a modern young woman whose life is changed when she receives a call to visit her aunt in the Yorkshire moors. There she encounters mysteries, truths about her own family, and secrets to choosing the right love.
What should readers expect from you titles?
I think readers can expect clear, endearing characters who move with grace in the world, lyrical writing, a strong sense of place, and a satisfying story.
What's your writing process like?
I write from the unconscious. I never know where the story is going, what the character will do next. I simply open a door, with the first page, and follow them. I'm always surprised, so it keeps me very interested. I write a first draft and then I carve away what's not necessary as I begin to get closer to what the story is truly about. I write many drafts - like combing a young girl's long hair -- combing until there's not a knot, till the comb pulls through without a snag.
Which authors do you follow religiously?
Karl Ove Knausgaard is who I am reading carefully and watching now. I tend to read all of a writer: Woolf, Salter, Yates, Coetzee, Marquez, Murdoch, Goethe -- countless writers. Contemporary writers I follow are Ruth Ozeki, Denis Johnson, Michael Cunningham, Jhumpa Lahiri, David Grossman, TC Boyle, Colum McCann -- many more...
What books have you analyzed to help grow yourself as an author?
Karl Ove Knausgaard's works -- particularly My Struggle. He writes with a completely natural voice, without anything like a plot, telling the story of what he's seen, where he's been -- the narrator, the author's voice.
Balzac. Goethe. Woolf. Celine. Updike.
What's next for you as an author?
I'm taking a respite from the world, going on a retreat this summer -- to write. I'm going to finish the first draft of a book I was starting when Solsbury Hill sold. It's working title is, The Sentry.
What is your favorite way to procrastinate?
Believing in the power of quiet and stillness allows me to procrastinate, but everything seems to get done. And when there's something urgent to do, I'm terrifically efficient.
Getting a book to market often takes a village. Who has helped you on the way?
Everyone. When ones thinks about it, it seems it's absolutely everyone. I can remember reading acknowledgements, years ago, and wondering how there could possibly be so many people to thank, but there are. The friends who believed in my poetry, the friend who got my first novel to a lawyer who passed it to a Manager in Hollywood who got me my first agent. My editor at Riverhead, of course. All the people in marketing at Riverhead. My son, my neighbors, my sixth grade teacher. Truly, it's a lifetime of wending one's way toward this end.
If you could have dinner with an author, who would it be?
I was invited to an intimate dinner recently and TC Boyle and Tim O Brien were there. They were so generous: excited that I had my first book coming out, were each reliving their first book, so long ago. I'd love to have dinner with James Salter. But that feels greedy, now.
If you could travel to another time, would you choose past or future or would you stick where you are at? And Why?
I'm curious about parts of the early twentieth century, particularly in Paris and New York. But I know the chances of finding what I imagine would be there, and it's probably better to stay where I am.
What's a writing day like for you?
When I'm hard at work in the depth of the first draft a novel, I get up early, go to a cafe, and write from morning till night. When I'm rewriting, I work at my home office. I've written five novels in the last six years, so I've been writing almost all the time. But I'm ready for a fallow period.
Do you feel music has inspired your writing?
I don't listen to music when I write, but I do like the sound of my fountains, and I love the sound of the wind.
What's your everyday life like? Do you write full-time or do you also hold another job?
I am a full time writer. I am also a Master yoga teacher and used to teach asana and meditation fairly full time, but about six years ago, I cut way back on my teaching, so I could write. Writing for me includes a lot of reading and then also the quiet there has to be around the writing.
Are you an introvert or extrovert?
I thought I was an extrovert, because I'm good at conversation and dinners and parties -- but I'm an introvert. I need a lot of time alone, alone with books and quiet. My internal life is what stimulates me.
Thank you to readers -- people, like me, looking for understanding and empathy and maybe an explanation, for the way we feel, the way we are, in the stories our writer's tell.
My next book is called Charlie Nantes.
And the next is called Plant A Tree.
I hope you'll have a chance to read both of these.