New from Simon & Schuster

Author Revealed

Revealing Questions

Q. How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

A. Full of music, cats, books . . . it's all good!

Q. What is your motto or maxim?

A. Write like your fingers are on fire.

Q. What’s your greatest fear?

A. Snakes.

Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

A. I love being in my own studio and home. No other place is quite so sweet.

Q. With whom in history do you most identify?

A. Mary Breckenridge--she loved babies, and so do I.

Q. Which living person do you most admire?

A. Michelle Obama.

Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?

A. Um, er, like, yep.

Q. What do you regret most?

A. Where to start?

Q. If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

A. I would love to play the piano.

Q. What is your greatest achievement?

A. My two smart and talented sons. Not sure I can really take credit for them, but I'm in awe of them.

Q. What’s your greatest flaw?

A. I'm not too good at waiting. So, impatience would definitely be my Achilles heel.

Q. What’s your best quality?

A. I like to think that I'm a good listener.

Q. If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

A. A thinner me.

Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?

A. I've been told that I have a distinctive laugh.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional hero?

A. Black Beauty.

Q. Who is your favorite fictional villain?

A. Cruella deVille

Q. What is your biggest pet peeve?

A. Like I said, I hate to wait.

Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

A. Movies.

Q. What’s your fantasy profession?

A. I'd love to be a radio disc jockey.

Q. What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

A. Tolerance, creativity, humor.

Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

A. Macaroni and cheese

Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?

A. "Tis a Gift to be Simple," a Shaker song; "Here Comes the Sun," the Beatles; "Eyes of Blue," Ken Appelt; "Tom Cat Trouble," by Tim Henderson; "St. Francis Fire," by Idgy Vaughn

On Books and Writing

Q. Who are your favorite authors?

A. Cynthia Rylant, Katherine Paterson, M.T. Anderson, Toni Morrison, Billy Collins, Robert Pinksky, Mary Oliver, Alison McGhee, Kimberly Willis Holt, Maurice Sendak, so many it's hard to think of all of them.

Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

A. "To Kill a Mockingbird," Harper Lee "Beloved," Toni Morrison "The Magician's Apprentice," Ann Patchett "Missing May," Cynthia Rylant "Bridge to Terabithia," Katherine Paterson

Q. Is there a book you love to reread?

A. "Even Cowgirls Get the Blues," by Tom Robbins

Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

A. Write like crazy, write all the time.

Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

A. How do you come up with your ideas?

Q. How did you come to write The Underneath?

A. Over the three years that it took to write this book, I dove into my past, including the animals and pets that I had known, people who had come and gone, and a mysterious place--East Texas--where I had lived as a young woman. The novel began as a short story set on a fictional creek, The Little Sorrowful, and grew from there. I think about the process as similar to making taffy. I had to keep pulling and twisting to bring it all to the page. And as I pulled, the story began to take shape until it became what it is today.

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