What do you create?
As a novelist, as well as an occasional nonfictionist of essays and articles, I strive to create conversations–between myself and my readers, my readers and each other, myself and the world. I construct journeys also, both metaphorically and geographically. I’m an expat writer and inveterate traveler, and my work tends to follow suit: my first novel, An Unexpected Guest, was set in Paris, also Dublin and Boston; my new novel, Shining Sea, opens in Southern California and travels to the remote Hebrides islands off the western coast of Scotland and back, with many stops in between.
You could say that, as a writer of literary fiction, I create worlds also. Certainly, that’s how they feel to me. My characters become very real to me; I launch them into existence and then they take over.
Why do you create?
Honestly? Compulsion. I can’t imagine living in any other way. Even as the tiniest girl I was making up stories—continuing ones too, like little novels in my head. I’d lie in my bed at night while the rest of the house was asleep, letting them flit through my head like shadows across the ceiling.
What do you consume?
The New York Times daily, Le Nouvel Observateur weekly, also The Guardian, Literary Hub, and Electric Literature. My Twitter feed. Literary fiction, especially from the US, UK, Ireland, France, and anywhere in Africa. Nonfiction about armed or societal conflict. Poetry, currently by some wonderful women poets—for example, Warsan Shire, Erin Hollowell, Claudia Rankine, and Maggie Smith–but also unfailingly Yeats. Ancient Greek myths, which I know backwards and forwards but of which I can never get enough. A lot of visual art, particularly modern and contemporary. Music. Foreign landscapes, people, and cultures. Nature, in large, desperate gulps. And pomegranate. I might just be addicted to pomegranate seeds.