I am writing a book about Jewish spies in the Galapagos Islands during the Second World War. The same editor who published my last novel, “A Nearly Perfect Copy” has bought this one too. So far, it’s called “Other Islands” and I hope to have a draft of it finished by the time I leave Hawaiʻi in November.
Where did the idea come from and does it fall under a specific genre?
I went to the Galapagos Islands as a teenager and fell in love with the place. The cradle of evolutionary imagination, the Galapagos Islands bring to mind images of a fertile garden of Eden. The reality of living on the Galapagos contrasts greatly: active volcanoes, lack of drinking water, inhospitable brush and wildlife, and unfriendly neighbors conspire to drive out those who are not suited to deprivation. I wanted to write about this human history.
This will be my second book of historical literary fiction.
What are you currently reading?
Just finished “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. A beautiful dystopian book with fantastically drawn characters and a can’t-put-it-down plot.
What are some upcoming titles in your reading list?
“The Great Glass Sea” by Josh Weil
“The Paying Guests” by Sarah Wells
“We Are Not Ourselves” by Matt Thomas
Who/what inspires your writing?
I tend to be inspired by whomever I’m reading at the time. Accessible literary fiction heroes Ann Patchett, Barbara Kingsolver, are some of my favorites.
What does your writing process entail?
When I’m not teaching I get up every morning and go to a communal writing space. Now that I’m drafting a new novel, I have a daily word quota, and I turn on “Freedom” (a program which blocks internet access for a specified amount of time) and pound out a thousand words. Then I quit, whether I’m on a roll or stuck. I spend the rest of the day researching, applying for grants and doing questionnaires like this!
Who would you like to give a shout out to in the writing community and why?
Everyone who has given generously of their time and expertise. Most recently Binnie Kirshenbaum, Amber Dermont and Irina Reyn have been beyond helpful in writing recommendations and reading my work.