I usually get up between 7 A.M. and 8 A.M., have coffee, and go right to work. It's really important not to get sidetracked in the morning so I'm still in that dreamy state for my writing.

I have never liked the 'Been there done that' thing... You hear that all the time from people, and I think it's just based on pure insecurity... Each person is going to have their own unique take on something.

I try to show ugliness, but with compassion for the people who commit ugly acts.

I'm drawn in some strangely natural way to immersing myself in a milieu whose rules I don't understand, where there are things you can't access simply by being intelligent or doing well in school.

I don't believe in the model of pure inspiration. All of my creative work stems from a dialogue with others.

I am not a sun person at all. I think it's a cancerous poison and I don't want it touching me.

I steer clear of books with ugly covers. And ones that are touted as 'sweeping,' 'tender' or 'universal.'

I don't believe that intelligence can be reduced to a number, frankly. But I can see how doing exactly that produces a useful sorting mechanism in our society in order to separate children into categories of promising and doomed. The tests seem arbitrary and without real scientific value and yet have lasting consequences.

In fiction, there happens to be a long history of creative engagement with marginality, with the very human components of society that others don't want to think about, from writers such as Dostoyevsky, Baudelaire, and Rimbaud to Genet and Sarrazin and right on up to Norman Mailer.

I don't have any outside view of myself, and if I did, I would probably be creatively inhibited. I just write in the way that I write.

Art is about play and about transcendent meanings, not reducible to politics.

The 1970s seemed particularly playful. People were trying to make work that couldn't be sold.

I'd say it's okay to be political and to be a writer. Those streams can be separate, and they can be connected; for me, they're both. Life is political, and I'm interested in my community and in a lot of issues - some of them American, some global.

I knew that I wanted to write about a very young woman because I wanted to see the eyes of the art world in a fresh or even slightly naive way. Because there's something very honest about entering a room and not having a read on everyone there.

I'm very interested in the idea of a large group of people who come together quite suddenly, but not illogically, for reasons that could not have been anticipated.

My older brother, Jake, and I had a bohemian childhood. My parents are deeply unconventional people from the beatnik generation. They weren't married, and I thought that was normal. We called them by their first names.

I am just getting into Zora Neale Hurston, who is possibly a much better writer than the critics and rivals who tried to erase her from history, resulting in a life in which she worked as a maid and died in a welfare nursing home. She's clever. She does something modern to the sentence.

When I see things in the world that leap out at me, I want to make use of them in fiction. Maybe every writer does that. It just depends on what you claim or appropriate as yours.

I have spent a lot of time in the art world, and I guess I do listen to how people speak. I'm interested in what they say and how they say it.

Some writers think that fiction is the space of great neutrality where all humans share the same concerns, and we are all alike. I don't think so. I'm interested in class warfare because I think it's real.

My neighbors think I do nothing because I don't go to a job, which is fine and good.

The Seventies seemed like this really open time. There were a lot of strong women characters deciding what kind of artists they wanted to be.

Artists complain about the art world until it starts rubbing their back, then they have their love affair with it.

Danzon is my favorite Cuban music, played by a traditional string orchestra with flute and piano. It's very formally structured but romantic music, which derives from the French-Haitian contradance.

Eventually, I grew out of my interest in motorcycles because they're quite dangerous. I don't ride them anymore. But I have this history.

I begin a book with imagery, more than I do with an idea or a character. Some kind of poetic image.

A lot of politics in art is just institutional critique, which, in my opinion, is not all that political.

Growing up, I was not told that there were women's areas of preoccupation or male ones.

Art is something special because it can come up with a way of approaching the truth that is a little to the side.

I don't think of myself as a gearhead or a motorcyclist. I'm not that young, and this is like another life of mine. But the people I know from that era think of me that way.

I suppose I am interested in women plus anonymity plus disappearance.

I write the novels that are possible for me to write, not that ones I think will come across in a certain light.

Story and plot, not historical facts, are the engine of a novel, but I was committed to working through the grain of actual history and coming to something, an overall effect, which approximated truth.

I always collect images, maybe because I was working with historic material - but even if I were working with contemporary material, I would do the same thing. I keep a kind of index of them while I'm working. I find them incredibly useful, not so much to illustrate a time, but to give some sense of the feeling of a time.

Even if it happened in real life - and oftentimes, especially if it happened in real life - it might not work in fiction.

Writing is a way of living. It doesn't quite matter that there are too many books for the number of readers in the world to read them. It's a way of being alive for the writer.

I spent a huge amount of time by myself. I daydreamed and learned how to be alone and not be lonely.

For me, everything about the telling is guided by tone. It's a bit mysterious; it's either there, or it isn't.

I'm hesitant to ever take on the crest of the veteran. So I don't know who I am to warn the younger writer about the perils to come. I think maybe the most dangerous influence is to think you have all the answers and should be giving counsel.

When I see someone for the first time in a while, and they ask, 'How have you been?' or 'What have you been up to?', it's politeness but a bit of a conversation stopper.

Tone is somewhat totalising in that, once I locate it, it tells me what kind of syntax to use, what word choices to make, how much white space to leave on the page, what sentence length, what the rhythmic patterning will be. If I can't find the tone, I sometimes try narrating through the point of view of someone else.

I get the feeling that people from outside the world of contemporary art see it as deserving of mockery, in an emperor's-new-clothes sort of way. I think that's not right and that it's just because they don't understand the discourse. The art world is filled with vibrancy.

Futurism eventually got marred by its link to Fascism, but early on, it was totally avant-garde, and I wanted to dream a phantom link from the early futurists to the politically radical Italy of the 1970s, a time of fun, play, subversion - if also violence and mayhem.

It's really a misconception to identify the writer with the main character, given that the author creates all the characters in the book. In certain ways, I'm every character.

I don't like the info-dump, as it's known.

I got all my politics and culture and my sense of the great wide world of adults from 'Mad Magazine.' But all other comic books literally gave me a headache.

Telluride has an incredible history and reputation, and I've long known of it as a unique entity that makes a place for writers - one more aspect of this exceptional film festival in the Colorado Alps.

I don't read for plot, a story 'about' this or that. There must be some kind of philosophical depth rendered into the language, something happening.

I'm not sure if you can strive your way into a career as a novelist. You have to write books; there are no short cuts.