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.
A. Reporting. It gives you a license to ask questions, to see places and events you would not have access to, otherwise.
A. I went to Middlebury College in Vermont, and then transferred to Yale College.
A. Mozart, Debussy, Dvorak... must I have a favorite?
A. The Wizard of Oz.
A. Television was forbidden when I was a child, but as an adult, I like: Friday Night Lights. Homeland. Downton Abbey.
A. Wild imagined adventures--mundane quotidian reality. Jokes. Dinner.
A. Try to use good words, like 'slubberdegullion' whenever possible.
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.
A. Mealy worms in the flour. Again.
A. Right here with you.
A. The good guys, of course, not the bad guys.
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.
A. Just. Really. Fierce.
A. Being such a dang slow writer.
A. If I could only make just the right speech, world peace would result. Grandiose enough?
A. That is a question only others can answer.
A. Too cheerful. It's annoying, even to me. Like living with a giant labradoodle.
A. It would be fun to be a wizard! Sheez, some stuff would change fast.
A. You have to ask? You don't know? Don't you see that right away?
A. Dorothy Gale, of Kansas.
A. Evil Ann Coulter and her employers, from His Dark Materials trilogy, by Phillip Pullman
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.
A. Faster writer. The writer-equivalent of someone who swallows swords. Flaming swords. On a tightrope. Wearing spangles. Upside down.
A. Kindness, curiosity, spark.
A. I like a good plate of sauteed spinach. Suits my Puritan anhedonic cult of self-denial.
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.
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
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
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.
A. Daily pages. And turn off the internet! Now!
A. All readers, and comments from readers are most welcome.