Always such a difficult question! Graham Greene, Margaret Atwood & Nadine Gordimer are definitely up there.
2.Who has had a major influence on your writing?
Again - so difficult to answer. Certainly all of the above, but in the last few years in particular I’ve felt Greene looming large in and over and around my work.
3.Can you name at least one book that you never finished?
Moby Dick. I’ve started it several times. One day. Maybe.
4.What word or words do you always have trouble spelling?
So many! I rely heavily on spell check & my dictionary.
5.What three adjectives best describe you?
Restless, curious, loved.
6.Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
I tend to put my characters through pretty tough stuff so I don’t know if I’d want to be any of them. Living in Hanoi permanently is my dream, though, so I’d certainly like to steal that part of Mischa’s life.
7.Which author would you invite to dinner?
Frank Moorhouse. I’m obsessed with his Edith Campbell Berry trilogy.
8.Where do you write?
At my desk at home, mostly, but also in hotel rooms and coffee shops and airports.
9.When do you write?
Every day at whatever time I can carve out at least one uninterrupted hour.
10.What makes you happy?
Writing, reading, travel, hanging with my husband, talking to children, drinking and talking until the early hours of the morning with friends.
11.What do you most fear?
Losing the people I love most.
12.What is your favorite vice?
13.What is the quality you most like in yourself?
Curiosity - it almost always wins out over my not inconsiderable fear, self-doubt & laziness.
14.What are the qualities you most like in your friends?
A questioning mind & generous heart.
15.Would you be lying if you said your works were not autobiographical?
No. But a little bit yes.
16.What part of your personality do you detest?
I am stupidly anxious pretty much all the time. I could do without that part of myself, yeah.
17.What is your favorite adjective?
18.What is your favorite book?
Jane Eyre or A Room of One’s Own or The Great Gatsby or something else depending on when you ask me and what mood I am in.
19.What book would you read three times?
I have read the above books plus several of Graham Greene’s novels more than three times. Most of my truly mind-bending, heart-changing reading experiences have been re-reads.
20.To whom would you award the Nobel Prize for Literature and why?
I’d love to see it go to the Vietnamese writer Duong Thu Houng. Her historically important, politically provocative and beautifully written novels deserve to be read more widely.