Fridays after school, especially when the weather was lousy, Mom would take me to the library. She'd let me check out whatever I wanted, and I checked out a lot.
We live in a culture that venerates scores. We affix numbers to how much fat is in our mochachinos, how quickly our telephones suck information from the air, how much pain we're in. Reading, too, has become a skill to quantifiably assess.
It took me about three years to write About Grace. I wasn't teaching two of those years, so I was working eight-hour days, five days a week. And it would include research and reading - it wasn't just a blank page, laying down words.
Twain's 'A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court' made me long to wake in an era when my Casio wristwatch would strike folks as sorcery, and Martin Amis's 'Time's Arrow' wrecked my assumption that all narratives had to proceed from Then to More-Recently-Than-Then.
In my students, I'm always dispelling the notion that characters come like a light bulb over the head in cartoons. For me, it's like a shapeless big lump of clay. You just build it into something, and then you step back and go, 'That's not right,' hack it apart, put out a new arm, and say, 'Maybe this will walk around and work.'
I originally got very interested in memory in high school when my grandmother came to live with us. She had been diagnosed with dementia. It was the first time I had heard the word 'Alzheimer's disease.'
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.
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.