For our readers who may not be familiar with your work, what’s the most accurate thing someone else has said about it?
A friend of mine said that it felt like a string of bells ringing separately till they were all sounding off together, something like that, and that pleased me deeply.
What have you read recently (or listened to or ate or whatever) that will permanently change our readers' lives for the better?
The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin. I was so rooted in her lush, turn-of-the-century Pacific Northwest landscape that looking up and not seeing it was emotionally difficult. Lately I've been running while listening to South African folk legend Miriam Makeba, and it feels like a drug—it's that good. Oh! I grilled some nectarines in paprika and cinnamon last week, and that was a milestone.
Whose ghostwritten celebrity tell-all would you sprint to the store to buy (along with a copy of The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius so that the checkout clerk doesn’t look at you screwy)?
I'd like to think most of the people I admire wouldn't hire a ghostwriter. Does that make me an asshole? Maybe if Deborah Harry released a book of haiku concerning various sexual encounters, I would read that. Now I'm upset that that doesn't exist.
Have you ever been a Starving Artist, and did it make you brilliant, or just hungry?
Before I wrote full-time I worked at restaurants, and always had friends in the kitchen; I was never starving. But I was unsatisfied, and that pushed me to write for long hours, which felt like a needed escape.
What would you characterize as an ideal interaction with a reader?
"Hello: I find you so talented, your work so important, that I've decided to give you this house I built right on a stream in rural Vermont, as well as this charming old red truck that you may use to drive there. Also, Neil Young will be arriving every day to eat breakfast with you."
Have you ever written anything that you'd like to take back?
Well, God yes. But I'd like to think it's all in the name of progress.