Walt Whitman; Henry David Thoreau; Emily Dickinson; Willa Cather; Ernest Hemingway; Rachel Carson; Maria-Louise von Franz; Edward Abbey; Wallace Stegner; Muriel Rukeyser; Adrienne Rich; J.M. Coetzee; John Berger; W.S. Merwin; Don DeLillo; Roland Barthes; Helene Cixous; Clarice Lispector; Louise Erdrich; Anne Carson; Zadie Smith’s essays.
2.Who has had a major influence on your writing?
The landscapes of the American West: the Colorado Plateau with the redrock canyons of southern Utah; the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem from the Tetons to Yellowstone National Park; the Great Basin including Great Salt Lake.
3.Can you name at least one book that you never finished?
“One Hundred Years of Solitude” by Gabriel Garcia Marquez and yet, I loved
“Love in the Time of Cholera” and “Chronicle of a Death Foretold.”
4.What word or words do you always have trouble spelling?
5.What three adjectives best describe you?
Intense, passionate, present.
6.Which of your characters would you most like to be and why?
Since I write “creative nonfiction,” I’d like to be a lizard in the redrocks or a barnacle might be nice, doing headstands with feathered feet during high tide.
If I could be another writer’s character, I would be Fleur Pillager in Louise Erdrich’s book, Tracks. Why? Because she can shape-shift from an owl to a storyteller to a lover of the trees on the land where she lived and chose to cut down each one before the foresters came to clearcut her family forest. If the trees were going to be felled, it would be by her hand not theirs.
7.Which author would you invite to dinner?
8.Where do you write?
Wherever I am, in the field, on the street, at my desk.
9.When do you write?
Whenever I can, no set schedule, rarely in the morning, most often in my journal or on deadline for my column in The Progressive, or in long stretches of uninterrupted time when working on a book.
10.What makes you happy?
I love being home with the open space of time; taking walks with my husband, Brooke and our two dogs; watching birds; watching light; watching art; reading poems out loud; sharing stories with friends over dinner; teaching.
11.What do you most fear?
Two levels: Personally, giving a talk; Collectively, arrogance and the certainty it breeds that gives license to dismiss and hurt others.
12.What is your favorite vice?
13.What is the quality you most like in yourself?
Being in the moment.
14.What are the qualities you most like in your friends?
15.Would you be lying if you said your works were not autobiographical?
16.What part of your personality do you detest?
A tie between being a perfectionist and losing everything from keys to wallet to mind.
17.What is your favorite adjective?
I don’t care much for adjectives – I love nouns. But if I had to name one: red.
18.What is your favorite book?
Right now? From A to Z by John Berger Another: To A God Unknown by John Steinbeck. One more: Ava by Carole Maso. I lied: Field Guide to Western Birds.
19.What book would you read three times?
The book I have read three times or more is Walden
20.To whom would you award the Nobel Prize for Literature and why?
John Berger. I think John Berger deserves the Nobel Prize for Literature because he consistently reminds us in exquisite language, through fiction and nonfiction, what it means to be human with our eyes wide open, focused on a world outside ourselves while we stand on the Earth with bare feet and our hands rubbing dirt in a gesture of peace.
21. My own question because I lost one (see my worst quality) in the process of answering them: What is your favorite word? Petrichor ( play /ˈpɛtrɨkər/) is the scent of rain on dry earth.