Q: When did you first realize you were destined for the writing life?
A: After learning to read in elementary school, I taught myself how to type on an old typewriter that was collecting dust in my parents’ attic. My favorite childhood story was The Little Red Hen. I would type up the text until I made a mistake, and then take out the paper and start on a fresh sheet. It was frustrating, time-consuming, and sure used up a lot of trees, but it was the first time I experienced that sort of rush that I get from putting words to paper. It was an early lesson in hard work and perseverance. Now I read the book to my daughter and wonder what, if anything, she’ll make of it. I doubt she’ll break out the old typewriter, though. Maybe she’ll post it line by line on twitter or something.
Q: What is your favorite quote?
A: There are some goodies, particularly from Albert Einstein and Yogi Berra, but the one I keep going back to is from Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” I think it’s a very inspiring and empowering message about living by example.
Q: Which writer would you most like to meet/to have met?
A: Emily Dickinson, especially later in life during her reclusive years. I find her poetry’s depth and unique style fascinating. She’s influenced my own style—in both poetry and prose—more than any other writer. She also has this mystique about her—I’d love to get inside her head and see the thoughts behind the work.
Q: Who was your favorite person to interview?
A: Definitely Robin Furth, the personal research assistant to Stephen King. In preparation for the long-awaited November 2003 release of King’s fifth book in the Dark Tower series (the fourth book came out in 1997), Furth went to work categorizing all the characters and places in that fantasy world. The end product was a concordance published in two volumes. What was cool about that interview, aside from it being related to a series and author I loved, was that she told me it was her first one. It was a few years into my career and I remember being enamored with the idea that there I was, a seasoned interviewer, snatching that first interview with some fresh new talent. She was a great interviewee—honest and enthusiastic about her work.
A: I have always had a strong interest in the inner workings of the brain. It amazes me how this squishy clump of gray matter can have such complete power over a person’s actions and will. I am also a big advocate of mental health awareness and reducing the stigma associated with psychiatric disorders. When the opportunity presented itself to edit peer-reviewed articles on psychiatry, I jumped at the chance. I absolutely loved working at the center of the book publishing universe, but I was offered a shot at a very hands-on experience involving topics I found fascinating.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
A: I’m not sure whether this is the best advice I’ve ever received, but it certainly is the best advice I’ve ever received from a fish. Courtesy of IMDb:
Dory: Hey there, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets you down do you wanna know what you’ve gotta do?
Marlin: No I don’t wanna know.
Dory: [singing] Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim.
Marlin: Dory, no singing.
Dory: [continuing] Ha, ha, ha, ha, ho. I love to swim. When you want to swim you want to swim.
Marlin: Now I’m stuck with that song… Now it’s in my head.