How would you describe your life in only 8 words?
Writing, shopping, cooking, reading, walking, parenting, listening, watching
What is your motto or maxim?
Shut up and deal with it.
How would you describe perfect happiness?
On a beach, lost in a book while enjoying a cool gin and tonic with my wife, while my children swim in the sea.
What's your greatest fear?
Something terrible happening to my children - usually involving falling off a high building.
If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?
Heron Island, on the Great Barrier Reef
With whom in history do you most identify?
Which living person do you most admire?
What are your most overused words or phrases?
Idiot, amazing, boring
What do you regret most?
Giving up smoking
If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?
The ability to eat and not put weight on
What is your greatest achievement?
What's your greatest flaw?
My glass is always half-empty
What's your best quality?
My glass is always half-full
If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?
What trait is most noticeable about you?
My enormous head
Who is your favorite fictional hero?
Who is your favorite fictional villain?
If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?
John Locke. I would thank him for the precision and enormity of his thinking, and I would then ask him how such an intellect could ever support the institution of human slavery.
What is your biggest pet peeve?
What is your favorite occupation, when you're not writing?
What's your fantasy profession?
What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?
Honesty, cheerfulness, a fresh scent
If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?
Fish and chips
What are your 5 favorite songs?
This Is a Low, Tangled Up In Blue, You've Got To Hide Your Love Away, Never Let Me Down Again, The Mob Rules
On Books and Writing
Who are your favorite authors?
Henry James, Stephen King, Charles Dickens, David Mitchell, Hilary Mantel, Christopher Hitchens, Clive James, Peter Carey, Alan Moore, Garth Ennis, Shirley Jackson, Peter Straub, David Foster Wallace, Mollie Panter-Downes, Leo Tolstoy, Michael Pollan, Neal Stephenson
What are your 5 favorite books of all time?
The Portait of a Lady, Infinite Jest, Cryptonomicon, The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, The Shining
Is there a book you love to reread?
Infinite Jest - one day I hope to understand it.
Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?
Write every day, whatever you feel like (I rarely follow this advice.
What comment do you hear most often from your readers?
I'll let you know!
Unless otherwise stated, this interview was conducted at the time the book was first published, and is reproduced with permission of the publisher. This interview may not be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the copyright holder.
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From NYT bestselling author Ann Leary
The captivating story of an unconventional New England family.
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