Interviews with Other Authors

Interviews with Other Authors

During my period of freelance writing, I had the opportunity to interview some of literature’s best and most interesting authors in a wide variety of fields. They all gave most generously of their time. For the first time I’ve made the transcripts of the full interviews available (several are over 4000 words). As you will see in the “Author’s Note” at the end of each interview I made the most of the material and usually sold two—if not more—different articles from each interview. I had the opportunity to interview both Ursula K. Le Guin and Karen Armstrong twice and combined the material into one document each. Since I started writing my own novels, I haven’t had as much opportunity to formally interview other authors, but I did include one from my blog. Where appropriate I updated information on the author’s publications in the Author’s Note. Have fun getting to know these wonderful people:

Valerie Anand (a.k.a. Fiona Buckley)

Anand head shotPopular historical fiction and mystery writer Valerie Anand brings past times and conundrums to life with fascinating characters, abundant detail and meticulous research in her twenty-one novels. In the U.S. she’s better known under her pen name Fiona Buckley for her historical mystery series set in the early years of Elizabeth I’s reign. Ms. Anand talked to me about her writing, love of history and feminist leanings from her South London home. (Full interview.)


Karen Armstrong

armstrong author picMs. Armstrong, who calls herself a “freelance monotheist,” is among the foremost religious writers and thinkers in the world. A former Catholic nun, she’s written biographies of Buddha, the Prophet Mohammed, and St. Peter as well as the best-selling books The Battle for God ; A History of God: The 4000 Year Quest of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths. Ms. Armstrong talked to me about her writing and research process, her struggles with life after leaving the convent, religious fundamentalism in all its many forms, and Islam in the modern world. (Full interview.)


Anita Diamant

diamant author picAnita Diamant wanted to do something different with her writing life. A freelance journalist in the Boston area since 1975, she wrote articles on everything from profiles of prominent people to first-person essays on being a mom. She also found the time to write six books on Jewish lifecycle events. She turned her sights on the biblical story of Dinah, Jacob’s only daughter. The result is her best-selling novel The Red Tent, a vivid retelling of the ancient story from the woman’s point of view. But it wasn’t easy. The decision to write this book led Diamant on a journey nearly as adventurous as Dinah’s. She talked to me from her home in the Boston area about her writing, research, publishing trials, and the grueling three-year marketing effort that drove her book to the top of the best seller lists. (Full interview.)


Jan Karon

karon author picWho would want to read about a balding, sixty-something, diabetic Episcopal priest who presides over a congregation of ordinary people – hairdressers, garage mechanics, diner cooks, as well as the occasional troubled teenager? About ten million people and climbing. Jan Karon the author of The Mitford Series (nine novels plus seven related gift books) has tapped into something deep and needy in the American spirit. “I just write about ordinary people,” Karon says, “and millions and millions of ordinary people are thrilled to find themselves, their families, and friends living in my books.” Ms. Karon spoke to me about writing, the Mitford phenomenon and the joys of rural living from her farm in Virginia. (Full interview.)


Nancy Kress

kress author picMs. Kress claims she never intended to become a writer but staying at home with two infants gave her time to experiment — and embroidering didn’t work out. Lucky for us! She’s the author of twenty-one books: thirteen novels of science fiction or fantasy, one YA novel, two thrillers, three story collections, and two books on writing. Kress’s short fiction has appeared in all the usual places. She has won three Nebulas: in 1985 for Out of All Them Bright Stars, in 1991 for the novella version of Beggars In Spain, which also won a Hugo, and in 1998 for The Flowers of Aulit Prison. Kress is the monthly Fiction columnist for Writer’s Digest Magazine and teaches regularly at Clarion. She spoke to me about her writing, teaching, and foray into e-publishing from her home in Silver Spring, Maryland. (Full interview.)


Ursula K. Le Guin

le guin author picBefore J. K. Rowling and Harry Potter, there was Ursula K. Le Guin and her best-selling children’s stories of wizards and magic in Books of Earthsea. Before Star Wars there was Le Guin’s award-winning science fiction classic The Left Hand of Darkness. Born in 1929 to an anthropologist father and writer mother, Le Guin submitted her first story at the tender age of twelve. It was rejected. But she persevered and has defied categorization by publishing mainstream stories, novels, children’s books, essays, literary criticism and poetry. She’s accumulated numerous awards including: the National Book Award, five Hugos, five Nebulas, the Kafka Award, a Pushcart Prize and the Howard Vursell Award, among others. Ms. Le Guin talked to me from her home in Portland, Oregon about her art, science fiction, and her book the telling. (Full interview.)


Melanie McDonald

McDonald author picMelanie McDonald was awarded a 2008 Hawthornden Fellowship for her literary historical novel Eromenos. She has an MFA from the University of Arkansas. Her short stories have appeared in New York Stories,Fugue, Indigenous Fiction, and online. An Arkansas native whose Campbell ancestors were Highland Scots, McDonald talked to me about her novel, historical research and writing process from her home in Virginia. (Full interview.)


James K. Morrow

morrow author picAward-winning author James K. Morrow takes on the foibles and inconsistencies of Western religion with wit and vigor, holding up a mirror and asking, “How far will we go?” Booklist dubs him a “genius” and compares him to Twain, Heller, and Vonnegut, for bringing much needed humor to this too-serious subject. The Science Fiction/Fantasy community has honored him with two Nebulas (1989 short story “Bible Stories for Adults #17: The Deluge” and 1990 novella City of Truth) and a World Fantasy Award (1990 Only Begotten Daughter.) In this interview from his home in State College, Pennsylvania, Morrow discusses his debt to the SF/F community, scientific humanism, organized religion, the literary roots of his stories, and the difficulties of addressing the “big questions” in satire. (Full interview.)


Christine Wiltz

wiltz author picSex, bootlegged booze, beautiful women, and powerful men set against the steamy backdrop of corruption in New Orleans in the roaring twenties. This is the stuff of which exciting novels are made. But, as in many cases, truth is more compelling than fiction. Christine Wiltz is a mystery writer with four novels under her belt: Glass House, The Emerald Lizard, A Diamond Before You Die, and The Killing Circle all set in her native New Orleans. When asked to write the biography of Norma Wallace, a powerful ambitious woman who ran one of the most notorious houses of prostitution in the French Quarter for over forty years, Wiltz decided to give non-fiction a try. She combined her mystery writing skills and deep affection for her native city in a real-life thriller, The Last Madam: A Life in the New Orleans Underworld. Wiltz deftly unravels the mystery of the woman behind the glamour of the madam; setting us up with Norma’s violent death in Chapter One, then spending the rest of the book answering the proverbial questions of “Whodunit?” and, more importantly, “Why?” (Full interview.)