I had the little Radio Shack crystal radio, and then my aunt Judy bought me a shortwave radio. It was amazing to me: like on these really clear nights - I lived in Ohio - I could get Texas or Florida. You felt like the world was a smaller place.

Anthony Doerr

Anthony Doerr

Profession: Novelist
Nationality: American

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My parents would drive us to Florida every spring in this big old, rusy Suburban, and we'd collect stuff on the beach for our aquarium back in Ohio; we had this big saltwater aquarium back in Ohio. Every time we found anything, any mollusk, my mom would bring out the guidebook and quiz us on what it was, so that stuff was built in early.

I've always been so interested in both the visual beauty of mollusks and the tactile feel of them. As a kid, I collected them all the time.

I feel like it has gone very fast for me, but I feel like it wasn't instantaneous, at all. I was getting a lot of rejections. I just got very lucky and it happened quickly for me. I don't feel like I'm a prodigy or something.

'Research,' for me, is a big word that encompasses a lot of different activities, all of them based around curiosity. Research is traveling to places, or studying snowflakes with a magnifying glass, or excavating one's memories. Research is walking around Hamburg with a notebook.

Supposedly, some writers work in rowdy coffee shops or compose whole novels to Megadeth, but when I write, I wear a pair of chainsaw operator's earmuffs.

You need to be imagining all the time, imagining yourself outside the walls of your own skull.

Sometimes, when the neighborhood is silent and the sky is aswarm with the stars and the mind is swirling like a flushed toilet, a person gets to doubting himself. In the hardest times, the stand-at-the-kitchen-sink-and-stare-into-the blackness times, I put on Bob Dylan's 'Tomorrow Is a Long Time.'

My goals aren't really commercial success.

I do fish. I think there is a connection between thinking and fishing mostly because you spend a lot of time up to your waist in water without a whole lot to keep your mind busy.

I found my first novel difficult. I don't want to make it sound like it's any more difficult than driving a cab or going to any other job, but there are so many opportunities for self-doubt, that you just kind of need to soldier on.

Every artist wants an audience, and it's incredible to me how books take on a life of their own and reach people whom you could never meet. That's what got me interested in writing in the first place.

The preciousness of life and the changes of weather and the beauty of seasons - all those things have always sort of dazzled me.

Short stories are not maybe the biggest deal in our culture anymore.

Great writers probably shouldn't be ranked, at least not by me.