What's your favorite font to write in?
Times New Roman, 12 pt. It calms me.
Do you listen to music while you write? What music?
I prefer silence. No, wait. I require silence. I'm too easily distracted and music jumbles my brain. Or maybe it's the writing that jumbles my brain. And yes, even soft, instrumental music is too much.
How do you celebrate after you've finished a book?
My husband and I usually go out to dinner somewhere nice to celebrate "The End." We also go out to dinner to celebrate other good news, like making the New York Times bestseller list, or signing a new contract. Or receiving a check in the mail. Sounds like we look for reasons to go out to dinner, doesn't it? I suppose we do.
What's your favorite first line of a book? Last line?
"It was a pleasure to burn." —"Fahrenheit 451" by Ray Bradbury
"Respectfully submitted, Kinsey Millhone" — how Sue Grafton generally ends books in her Alphabet Mysteries
What book do you read over and over again?
When I was a kid, I read "A Little Princess" by Frances Hodgson Burnett 13 times. So far, no other book has pulled me back in quite as often. I do read Bradbury's short stories over and over again, though. They've become dear friends, and I need to keep them close. There are a couple of novels I've read twice, including "Outlander" by Diana Gabaldon, and "Rebecca" by Daphne DuMaurier.
What do you think of when you think of Chicago?
Hotel Cass. The first time I visited the city, I stayed there. This is technically where I did my first work in Chicago, a short three-page terrible piece. I still have 8mm footage I shot of that building. Why was I shooting 8mm footage?
Who is an author you'd like to meet, dead or alive?
Ellen Raskin. Her "The Westing Game" had such a lasting impression on me, and discovering the rest of her work years later made me appreciate her genius all the more.
What's your guilty pleasure reading?
I can't say I have any. Bad writing is just bad writing. But as long as you can string together a decent sentence and have a story to tell, I'm as likely to read "trashy" science fiction as Hemingway. And Hemingway's work has a dearth of ray guns.