In Concord, Massachusetts, I checked out Walden Pond and the houses of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Louisa May Alcott, and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Then, for good measure, I went to the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery to visit their graves. I particularly loved Emerson’s grave. It’s just a boulder with a plaque on it, which is so perfectly Emerson. I also went to the other, bigger, more famous Sleepy Hollow cemetery in Tarrytown, New York. The Washington Irving one. Besides gravestones that have the names of characters from Sleepy Hollow, Irving is buried there, too.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
When I first started writing, I considered a pseudonym or using my initials since, as a female writer, I know I’m at a disadvantage right off the bat. It’s a pretty well proven fact that male writers have a bit of an edge in the literary world. However, I decided not to go that way because, for one thing, I think those days are fading into the past, and for another thing, hiding the fact that I’m a woman just did not sit right with me. I touch on aspects of feminism in all my books, and those ideas wouldn’t come across the same if people thought they were coming from a man.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I should probably blather on about one of Dostoyevsky’s lesser-known books right now, but I’m going to go with the pirate books by Gideon Defoe. He has five. The Pirates! in an Adventure with Scientists is the first one. They’re perfectly, amazingly, beautifully funny. They’re like Monty Python but in book form and about pirates. The humor is just so right in ways you’d have to read it to understand, so you should probably go ahead and buy all five of them. Right now. You’re welcome.
The pirates all have names like the pirate with a scarf, the pirate with the Brooklyn accent, and the albino pirate. There are running gags about ham, and funny footnotes, and in each book the pirates have lovely, historically inaccurate adventures with the likes of Ahab and Charles Darwin and Lord Byron. They’re written in a casual style that reminds me of The Princess Bride in a way but is also uniquely its own; as a writer who values creativity, humor, pushing boundaries of the established rules of writing, and the use of one’s own true voice, I could gush about these books forever, but I’ll try to restrain myself and end it here. Done.