From all the
books you have written, do you have a favorite?
I love all my books, but I love THE MAGIC
CIRCLE best. It is the first
book I tried to write, sort of like
the first child you tried to conceive, and
as such will always
have an important place in my heart.
At what point in time did you realize that
writing was "the thing for you"?
When I was eight years old, I had already written a book.
I would have to say, like Isadora Duncan, that my calling was
there in the womb.
What advice would you give to someone
interested in becoming a writer?
It's something most people do not realize until you say
To be a full-time writer, you have to LOVE being alone. Most
successful writers have had major difficulties dealing with the
that one hundred percent of their productive life MUST be
completely alone, listening to your own ideas, to the
voices of your
characters, not of your boss, your spouse, your
children, or your
What is the name of your favorite mystery
Wow, that is tough.
I'd have to say off the op of my head,
WITNESS FOR THE
PROSECUTION, because it contains so
many elements of suspense
and humor. Plus I love Billy Wilder.
What other authors do you enjoy
All of them. The
biggies are all dead, unfortunately: Dumas
Rafael Sabatini, Zola, etc etc. I confess, I love
adventure novels laden with history.
Do you normally do a lot of research when
writing a book?
What other types of jobs have you had?
Banker, international consultant, computer
waiter, photographer, model...of all these,
working in a restaurant
was my favorite.
Do you attend conventions and
Always, if time
there anyone, in particular, who influenced you?
Marie Curie. She had an attitude I really
love: Why shouldn't I
discover radiation--and name it? Why
shouldn't I be admitted to the
national academy? Why shouldn't I
be the first person to win two
What led you to write
Life is a
mystery. Whenever I am asked this question by authors, I say,
what's interesting about a life lived alone in a room? (Which
life of most authors.) What is truly interesting
about life is: What's going to
read reviews of your books?
As a reviewer myself, and lit major, I used to love the
entire review process,
the input from literary experts who knew
the intellectual context within which
an author's works were
placed. I have framed and hung in the library my own
Don DeLillo and Milorad Pavic.
Those days are over. I
sometimes feel I have to chew a rag to bring myself
to read a
review of anyone's work, including my own. Many reviewers now do
not even provide the courtesy of skimming the work they are
reviewing. I call
these Flap Copy Reviews. It is no wonder that
most major periodicals have
stopped or limited the literary
review sections. I still read them--and I weep.
How would you like to be
do you believe is the highlight of your writing career so
I think the national
poll in Spain, by El Pais, where my first book, THE EIGHT,
chosen (along with Don Quixote) as one of the top ten books of all
write on a fixed schedule or do you wait until thoughts come to
Since thoughts come
to me even in my sleep, a fixed writing schedule, and a
editor with a short attention span, are both
How did you get started in writing?
I started before the age of eight. But in
grammar school, we were asked to
write a story on a Saturday
Evening Post cover (stories in themselves.) So
I learned, at an
early age, the additional discipline of writing around someone
else's "snapshot" of a story.
How do you come up with
Saint-Saens on music: plots fall from me like apples from a tree.
The secret ingredient is curiosity: about life, about fiction,
about everything. It is a trait I share with my
you take any classes on how to write?
Too many to count. All at university. All nearly useless.
I now believe, for those
who are writers and aspire to become
authors, the highly intensive workshop
with someone whose style
or approach is like what you want to write.
Do you ever get writer's
I do not seem to be
a good candidate for writers block, since I have ten or
books already in outline; but the events of life can often prevent
from writing fiction. My solution, so far, is to say that
when crises descend,
STOP WRITING until you can get back to that
clear space you can live in,
which is the fictional
My own opinion is that much of writers block, for
published authors, is the
demand by readers, and especially
publishers, to Do the Same Thing Again.
That's enough to make me
fall on the ground in a stupor.
If you are writing what you
want, what you love, no one can stop you--even
snow, rain or
hail, screaming children, pets, or spouse, will prevent the
from delivering a manuscript worth
are your hobbies and interests?
I have no hobbies. I am interested in
How do you spend your free time?
Free time? What's that? Is this a Science
Fiction concept?--surely not a part
you have a message you would like to give to all the readers out
Readers don't need
a message. Readers (and I am one) know what we like
and we know
who delivers it.
But for writers, I do have a message: Don't
write for anyone but yourself,
not your family, not your
publisher, not your friends, not your fans. If you write
that you yourself love to read over and over, there will be enough
out there who feel the same way you do. If you please
yourself, you don't have
to worry about pleasing all of the
people all of the time. If you please yourself,
you will have a