What is a favorite story you would recommend to everyone?
“Honey Pie” by Haruki Murakami. Oh, it just crushed me.
I think this is the best possible experience a person can have with fiction – to be crushed by it. Or maybe “tenderized” is a better word for this.
What is the most challenging part of writing a book?
I like this quote by E.L. Doctorow: “Planning to write is not writing. Outlining, researching, talking to people about what you’re writing is not writing. Writing is writing.” To sort of echo this idea, for me the most challenging part of writing is just doing it. Writing is incredibly frustrating a lot of the time, so making the daily choice to do it instead of doing anything else is the great and ongoing challenge.
One specific challenge that I faced with this book was how to use coincidence to bring characters together without it being too distracting or implausible. Around the time this had me stopped-up, I was reading something unrelated and encountered the “Birthday Paradox” – which states that in a room of only 23 people, there is a 50% likelihood that two of those people will share the same birthday. In a room of 70 people, that likelihood is over 99.9%. Isn’t that incredible? I know nothing of math, so had to stare at the explanation for this statistic for a while to understand (vaguely) that it’s true, and why it’s true. And although it didn’t relate directly to my work, this line of thought about probability and the “overlap” of people helped me push through my misgivings about writing coincidence.