- What did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an FBI agent, once it became clear that the Red Sox probably wouldn’t want a left-handed female shortstop.
- When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I’m still trying to decide whether I want to be a writer, frankly. More often than not, I have grave doubts.
- What’s your first childhood memory?
I remember crawling on a rug—mostly brown; maybe braided—with our Siamese cat, Boris, trying to race him and laughing my head off. His shoulder pressed against mine the whole time, and my mother says he was always very protective and would try to keep me from leaving the rug. (I was well under a year old, because I think I walked when I was nine months old—and never crawled again.) Boris was so responsible that it is possible that she even let him babysit for me occasionally, but I can neither confirm nor deny this.
- As a young person, who did you look up to most?
Honestly? Carl Yastrzemski was my hero.
- What was your worst subject in school?
Handwriting. I may even have flunked it once. In fact, I still get chided about my pathetic scrawling, as an adult.
- What was your best subject in school?
For a long time, math. In high school, chemistry. I am the child of a scientist—and have probably wasted that side of my brain.
- What was your first job?
When I was about twelve, I worked as a dishwasher at a place called the Fantastic Umbrella Factory, which was run by a bunch of very interesting, smart, but flaky, hippies. The restaurant was famous for its hot cider—but, they only had about eight glasses. They would try to get customers to drink up swiftly, so that I could wash said glasses, and they could serve cider to others. (once, one of the hippies ambled by, and said sleepily, “Why do the glasses look so clean?” And I said, “I don’t know, I just used hot water and soap.” “Whoa,” he said, “hot water.”
- How did you celebrate publishing your first book?
I used the entire (small) advance on ski lessons, and then buying my first pair of skis.
- Where do you write your books?
Everywhere. I prefer to write by hand whenever possible—especially on trains and the like, but use a desktop computer for most of my work, because it’s more practical.
- Which of your characters is most like you?
Oh, this question is just too scary to answer—especially since I am often told that my main characters are very “difficult.”
- When you finish a book, who reads it first?
I dread having anyone read anything of mine, including my editors and agent. I prefer to be in another state, or at least, another zip-code, when I know anyone is reading my writing.
- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
Total night person. I consider sleeping to be a terrible waste of time, and am inclined to begrudge anything resembling 6-8 hours worth.
- What’s your idea of the best meal ever?
I’m a pretty enthusiastic cook, and my tastes change quite frequently. I tend to over-spice.
- Which do you like better: cats or dogs?
I love both, although they are entirely different. Dogs are so loyal, and loving, and affectionate—and cats are so complicated, yet entertaining. If I am away from my pets for even a day or two, I feel quite glum, and find myself hanging around other people’s pets, and taking photographs of them. Whenever I come back from even a very short trip, I always seem to have at least half a dozen pictures of dogs and cats who belong to total strangers. Seeing the hundreds of stray cats in Rome, and stray dogs in San Juan, really bothered me.
- What do you value most in your friends?
Loyalty. Intellect. Humor.
- Where do you go for peace and quiet?
Skiing is the most relaxing activity in the entire world, and quite possibly the only time I ever really let myself zone out a bit.
- What makes you laugh out loud?
Mary Tyler Moore show re-runs. Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Tootsie. But, I hate the phrase “out loud”; it hurts my ears. “Laugh aloud” is my preference.
- What’s your favorite song?
“I Love Rock and Roll,” Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. And, of course, Rodgers and Hammerstein.
- Who is your favorite fictional character?
Wow. Tough question. In some ways, Hawk, from Robert B. Parker’s Spenser novels.
- What time of year do you like best?
Winter. I’m a former New Englander—and a skier. If it weren’t for baseball, I would find summer completely intolerable.
- What’s your favorite TV show?
At the moment, Battlestar Galactica.
- If you were stranded on a desert island, who would you want for company?
All of my friends and loved ones, plus a bunch of interesting strangers, so we could create a glorious microcosm of society. And my dog. My cats would hate the island; they could just email me regularly, perhaps.
- If you could travel in time, where would you go?
I’d jump all over history, and try to witness absolutely everything notable which has ever happened.
- What’s the best advice you have ever received about writing/illustrating?
Probably that it is vitally important to read as much as possible, and study other people’s writing, in order to learn the craft.
- What would you do if you ever stopped writing/illustrating?
Law school—which I threaten to do three or four times a year, anyway, since writing is so very daunting and grueling. I may break down and enroll one of these days, and probably become a public defender or district attorney.
- Where in the world do you feel most at home?
- What do you wish you could do better?
Everything. I am a Virgo. We are perfectionists.