Where are you from?
Who are your favorite writers?
I read widely in many different genre and my favorites keep changing. In the past few months, I've read terrific fiction by William Boyd, Julia Alvarez, Alice Munro, Graham Greene, and Kem Nunn. Other novelists I like: Richard Ford, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, V.S. Naipaul, Roald Dahl, Robert Stone, and Vladmir Nabokov. I read more literary nonfiction than anything else, and my favorites are William Langewische, Tracy Kidder, Adam Hochschild, Gary Smith, Ian Parker, William Finnegan, David Remnick, Kate Boo, and oldstalwarts like Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion and John McPhee. In the science/medical writer category: Stephen S. Hall, Carl Zimmer, Nicholas Wade, Leslie Roberts, Eliot Marshall, Jennifer Couzin, William Broad, Laurie Garrett, Steve Olson, Oliver Morton, and Robin Marantz Henig. As for essays and criticism, Jack Shafer, Gail Collins, Hendrik Hertzberg, Christopher Hitchens, Susan Sontag, and H.L. Mencken.
Which book/books have had the biggest influence on your writing?
Everyone mentioned in question 2. I study every writer I like, marking up their text with highlighters, big circles, and exclamation marks. They all influence me.
What are your hobbies and outside interests?
I raise kids (3) and cook big dinners most nights, and I surf, play music (piano and guitar), try to do crossword puzzles, and love vaccine history.
What is the single best piece of advice anyone ever gave you?
Reading is re-reading.
What is your favorite quote?
Gracias a la vida, que me ha dado tanto.
What is the question most commonly asked by your readers?¬† What is the answer?
How do you get access to difficult people and hard to reach places? Persistence, and approaching through the right channels. It always helps to be properly introduced.
What inspired you to write your first book?
My interest in Jonas Salk, and his attempt to apply what he learned from his polio vaccine work to the AIDS vaccine search.
Where do you write?
I have an office adjacent to my bedroom.