What was your inspiration for this book? A writing-improvement exercise that I chose fifteen years into my career led me to translate the first chapter of Treasure Island into modern 1950s prose. Stevenson taught me so, so much in the first chapter about pace, description, and character that I kept on translating all the way to the end.
Where do you do your best writing? Upon rising, with my first cup of coffee.
Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher? What a wonderful question. Patrick O’Brian.
What is your secret talent? I’ll leave that to my wife.
What is your favorite book? Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall.
Who reads your first draft? My wife, Amber Edwards, who makes documentary films and is very good at spotting what is missing.
Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand? Computer, which serves my habit of re-writing.
What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?) Last Call, The Rise and Fall of Prohibition by Daniel Okrent in trade paperback.
What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing? The em dash.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be? I do prefer writing. If I were not a writer, I would like to be a sail boat captain, but I am not a natural seaman, so I would settle, happily, for being a gardener.
Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer? The writer Lawrence Block said to me, “You ought to be a writer.” I asked why. He said, “You look like a writer.”
Do you read your books after they’ve been published? Yes, sometimes immediately, sometimes years later. I’m often left with the feeling that I’m glad I wrote that then, because I couldn’t write it now.
And don't forget, Oxford University Press has been kind enough to provide books for our Summer Book Clubs in the Reading Room. There are four more sessions and many more free books for participants to read. Check out the full list and sign up!
Word for Word BookClub
Tuesday, July 2
12:30pm - 1:45pm
Bryant Park Reading Room sponsored by HSBC