Who are your favorite authors?
That’s a hard question. Haruki Murakami, Lorrie Moore, T.C. Boyle, George Saunders, too many to all list here.
What is your favorite book?
No such thing.
What does “place” mean to you?
Place grounds experience and thought. There’s more to the story than what the characters think and do. Place is both the physical and intangible environment in which story happens. It’s what makes fiction resonate.
What is your favorite place or environment?
I haven’t yet become the kind of person to feel like any one place is home, so my favorite places are scattered around. I like quiet places. The high desert. The redwoods. The more rugged stretches of the Pacific coast. I like mountains. The Cascades. The alpine Sierras.
What do you look for in a piece of writing?
First I look for something that captures me as a reader, not an editor. I look for fiction that takes stylistic and structural risks. I look for a story that has something to say about the world but doesn’t beat me over the head with it. I want a story to linger with me after I have finished reading it.
What’s something surprising you learned last week?
Whales have different dialects and accents—each whale family has its own song patterns. That probably should have surprised me less than it did. There’s an online experiment called Whale FM where you can match similar whale songs to help scientists understand whale communication better.