About Kate Manning
Q. What is your birthdate?
Q. Previous occupations
A. International jewel thief. Whoops, sorry. I was a TV producer for public television, and a news-writer for local stations in Boston and New York.
Q. Favorite job
A. Reporting. It gives you a license to ask questions, to see places and events you would not have access to, otherwise.
Q. High school and/or college
A. I went to Middlebury College in Vermont, and then transferred to Yale College.
Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
A. Mozart, Debussy, Dvorak... must I have a favorite?
Q. Favorite movie
A. The Wizard of Oz.
Q. Favorite television show
A. Television was forbidden when I was a child, but as an adult, I like: Friday Night Lights. Homeland. Downton Abbey.
Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
A. Wild imagined adventures--mundane quotidian reality. Jokes. Dinner.
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Try to use good words, like 'slubberdegullion' whenever possible.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Happiness is a slippery fish. To describe it is to jinx it, to have it jump right out of the boat and go back where it came from.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Mealy worms in the flour. Again.
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Right here with you.
Q. With whom in history do you most identify?
A. The good guys, of course, not the bad guys.
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. I admire ordinary people who every day handle extraordinary burdens with bravery, without getting any credit or recognition. For example: my student who was born addicted to crack. Her foster mother who raised her till college. So many are heroic, and their stories are everywhere.
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. Just. Really. Fierce.
Q. What do you regret most?
A. Being such a dang slow writer.
Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
A. If I could only make just the right speech, world peace would result. Grandiose enough?
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. That is a question only others can answer.
Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Too cheerful. It's annoying, even to me. Like living with a giant labradoodle.
Q. What’s your best quality?
Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
A. It would be fun to be a wizard! Sheez, some stuff would change fast.
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. You have to ask? You don't know? Don't you see that right away?
Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?
A. Dorothy Gale, of Kansas.
Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?
A. Evil Ann Coulter and her employers, from His Dark Materials trilogy, by Phillip Pullman
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. Hanging out. Wrangling motley crew of friends, relatives, kids, dogs. Solving the world's problems with our blah-blah opinions. Cooking up some good stew.
Q. What’s your fantasy profession?
A. Faster writer. The writer-equivalent of someone who swallows swords. Flaming swords. On a tightrope. Wearing spangles. Upside down.
Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
A. Kindness, curiosity, spark.
Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. I like a good plate of sauteed spinach. Suits my Puritan anhedonic cult of self-denial.
Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. Always changing. Currently: "Dog Days Are Over," Florence and the Machine, "C'mon Billy," P.J. Harvey, "Back to Black," Amy Winehouse, "I Got You (I Feel Good)," James Brown, and "The Water is Wide," and old English song known as "Waly Waly," that dates to the 1600s. Anything in a minor key.
On Books and Writing
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. Any author with a strong, distinct voice:Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, F. Scott Fitzgerald, William Faulkner, Peter Carey, Sebastian Barry, Edna O'Brien, Roddy Doyle, Alice Walker, Norman Rush, Russell Banks, Junot Diaz, Annie Proulx, ZZ Packer, Colm Toibin, Ann Patchett, Sapphire, E.L. Doctorow, Mary Karr, James Baldwin, Ian McEwan, Kate Atkinson, William Trevor, Colum McCann, Barbara Kingsolver, Phillip Pullman, Roald Dahl, Christopher Hitchens, Sara Waters, Anne Lamott
Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. You do know that no one can pick five? Here's a current pile, in no particular order:Their Eyes Were Watching God, Zora Neale HurstonDown by the River, Edna O'Brien,The Sound and the Fury, William FaulknerThe Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, Junot DiazLolita, Vladimir NabokovSong of Solomon, Toni MorrisonTrue History of the Kelly Gang, Peter CareyThe Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. I still re-read Lolita because of the sheer dazzling pleasure of Nabokov's language, and the wicked strong voice of Humbert Humbert as he narrates his diabolical and sordid story.
Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. Daily pages. And turn off the internet! Now!
Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
A. All readers, and comments from readers are most welcome.