Describe your book in one sentence.
Cassandra Brooks, the first woman diviner in a long lineage of patriarchs who practiced the craft, comes upon a hanged girl in a lonely forest in upstate New York while dowsing water for a developer, and in doing so inadvertently opens up a Pandora’s box of past secrets that threaten her very existence.
Name one book you think everyone should read.
The Diviner’s Tale? No, well, William Gaddis’ The Recognitions meant everything to me when I first read it. There are hundreds, though, really, as you know.
What book are you embarrassed NOT to have read?
Still haven’t finished, to my abject shame, Don Quixote.
What was the proudest moment of your career so far?
When my first book was accepted for publication, that was the proudest moment. Until my second book was accepted, and so forth. To write a novel and have the great fortune for others to believe in it enough to publish it, bring it into the world for other readers to experience it—what could be better? And when a reader connects with the book, I’m prouder and happier yet.
If you weren't a writer, how would you earn a living?
Either as a musician, my lifelong infatuation, or as a bookseller, an occupation that would surround me with what I most love in this world. Patti Smith was right on the mark in her National Book Award comment, “Please, no matter how we advance technologically, please don’t abandon the book. There is nothing in our material world more beautiful than the book.” So, a bookshop with music constantly playing, that would be pure heaven.
What's your favorite movie based on a book?
Werner Herzog’s version of Dracula is one of the most original films based on a book I’ve ever encountered. His direction is astonishing for its originality, its striking out from the core text in fresh and haunting directions, but also for its fidelity to Bram Stoker’s original. Plus, damn, does it get any better than Klaus Kinski when the dawn light strikes him, and he collapses, folding like a dying bat into his vampire death?
If you had to be stranded on a desert island with one fictional character, who would you want it to be?
Captain Lemuel Gulliver, because he seems to have an endless store of yarns that would keep me in high spirits, and an uncanny ability to escape the various islands, floating or otherwise, he gets himself stuck on in the first place.