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In Dark Water

The Ballantine
Publishing Group

August 1998; May 1999

Interview With the Ballantine Reader’s Circle

Page 10


had taken in, for indefinite lengths of time, more than twenty children whose parents were somehow unavailable. Yes, I think the notion of an extended family is still alive. And I think also that biology is overrated.


Much of the novel’s imagery is rooted in nature and landscape. Since you live in the Catskill Mountains, how much of this connection to the earth comes from your own experience?


All of it. I am married to these mountains and to the place where I live now, an old defunct farm. After college, I tried to live somewhere else, but I felt called back here. It was not a matter of liking the Catskills; it was not a choice. They are my kin. I could not leave them. They speak to what is mute inside me, what is underneath all words.


In many English classes, “setting” is talked about as if it is superfluous to a story, a mere backdrop, or else a device to be manipulated for some emotion. But for me, place is primary, a touchstone of sorts. Place governs the tempo and voice of my characters. From within my characters, I can feel where they live. I purposely don’t use a lot of long descriptions as if looking on from the outside. I want the characters to speak from within that place, the details to leak out almost casually, like you would speak about your own home.

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