About Mark Scarbrough
Q. What is your birthdate?
Q. Previous occupations
A. I taught English on the college level for years.
Q. High school and/or college
A. I went to Thomas Jefferson High School in Dallas, Texas, and to Baylor University in Waco.
Q. Name of your favorite composer or music artist?
A. Bach. Hands down. No debate.
Q. Favorite movie
A. One? Just one? Maybe "Notes on a Scandal." Maybe.
Q. Favorite television show
A. Anybody who knows me would say "I Love Lucy." But right now, I'm into this British sit com called "Outnumbered." Hysterical!
Q. What is your motto or maxim?
A. Never cook naked.
Q. How would you describe perfect happiness?
A. Writing--which means I'm happy a lot. Perfect? I don't know. But happy as in contented? You bet. I don't understand the Hollywood myth about the tortured writer. When I get a cup of tea and sit down at my desk, looking out at the New England woods beyond but also facing that blank screen on my computer, I'm as happy as I ever am. It also doesn't hurt to have a collie sleeping nearby. Or the person you love making lunch in the kitchen.
Q. What’s your greatest fear?
A. Chipmunks. You have to live as rurally as Bruce and I do to understand.
Q. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
A. Paris for buzz, maybe Telluride for peace. Or Santa Fe. Oh, and Prince Edward Island. In the summer.
Q. Which living person do you most admire?
A. My birth mother. She saw that she couldn't provide for me and gave me up for adoption. I can't imagine making that choice.
Q. What are your most overused words or phrases?
A. Right now, the sarcastic "really?" It's got to stop. Really.
Q. What is your greatest achievement?
A. I went to college at 16 and graduated three years later. I don't know that that's an achievement. Mostly, it left me dazed and lost.
Q. What’s your greatest flaw?
A. Impatience. Move on.
Q. What’s your best quality?
A. I trust people, assume everyone's telling the truth. It gets me into big trouble sometimes. But I wouldn't have it any other way.
Q. What trait is most noticeable about you?
A. I laugh a lot. Is that a trait? Or a tic?
Q. What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?
A. I talk about books. I lead a book group at the local library and teach literature courses. Oh, and I play the piano. Ravel, mostly. And Bach.
Q. If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
A. Can't. Food writer, after all. If I had to eat only one thing, there would be no "rest of your days."
Q. What are your 5 favorite songs?
A. I blast Stravinsky, John Adams, and Steve Reich while I write. But also Lady Antebellum and Rascal Flatts. You can take the boy out of Texas, but not the Texas out of the boy.
On Books and Writing
Q. Who are your favorite authors?
A. I've taken five years to read everything Henry James ever published. That has to count for something. I've also taken three years to read Dante's Divine Comedy very slowly, really digging into the thing (and brushing up on a little medieval Italian). Now I'm off on George Eliot. But I'm also partial to Flannery O'Connor and William Faulkner. And Anthony Trollope. In terms of contemporary writers: Philip Roth, natch. Lorrie Moore, too. Anita Brookner, Louise Erdrich, David Mitchell, and Ian McEwan. I once had a thing with Salman Rushdie, but we broke up.
Q. What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
A. Wow, five. Can I edit this every other day? For now: Morrison's "Beloved," Faulkner's "Absalom, Absalom," James' "The Portrait of a Lady," McEwan's "Atonement," and Moore's "Birds of America."
Q. Is there a book you love to reread?
A. Middlemarch. I reread it at all the major junctures of my life.
Q. Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
A. Write. Writers write. Dancers dance. Actors act. Write.
Q. What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
A. How come you're not fatter?