The vocabulary used in this book is quite impressive. Several times I had to grab a dictionary. How did you end up with such an impressive vocabulary?
As I said, Iím a prodigious reader. I read everythingónovels of all sorts, but especially classicsópoetry, plays, philosophy, history galore, political commentary, etc. I have always read, and I read with a dictionary at my side. If I come across words I donít understand but donít have a dictionary handy, I underline them and look them up later. I sometimes write the meanings in the margins. I try to memorize them and use them so Iíll retain them. Reading challenging words and looking them up really helps to enlarge oneís vocabulary.
And then, I have a Ph.D. in 19th Century Studies with a concentration in English literature. Iím sure that helps. I was awarded the dissertation award for my dissertation on George Meredith in 1991 from Drew University. So yes, Iíve read and studied and looked up words all my life. I love words. They fascinate me. In our household we all love words and play with them and make puns continually. It also helps to use a thesaurus when writing!
Have you always had a desire to write?
Yes, but I had to wait for the right ideas and for the right point of view. When my daughter watched tearfully as trees were cut down across the road, that first sentence came into my mind, and I had the point of view Iíd been seeking. Everything just seemed to flow from that. As a scholar I wrote critical analysis, and not much else. But I always had an idea in the back of my mind that Iíd write a novel.
How many books have you written?
This is my first.
Iím having trouble deciding what genre Meggie Brooks belongs in. Which genre do you classify it in and why?
I classify this as literary fiction because of its language, style, and themes. While my novel contains romance, it is far more than a romance. It contains political intrigue and even takes the reader to Iraq, but it goes way beyond a political thriller. It deals with childhood, but moves into young adulthood, and the ideas and themes are beyond what one would find in a young adult novel. It evokes for me memories of Maggie in The Mill on the Floss as it chronicles the development of a little girl into a young woman. Nobody would read that and say it was a young adult novel. For that matter, Jane Eyre and David Copperfield are both novels that start out with children and childhood and move the characters into young adulthood. Literature didnít used to be broken down into the categories that we have today. My intent was to write a novel that defies categories and transcends boundaries.
I have just a couple more questions for you. Are you currently working on another book? Do you have plans for a sequel to Meggie Brooks?
I am currently working on another novel, but it is not a sequel. My next novel, The Redemption of Father Drew, is set on the border between Texas and Mexico, and while it is a love story, it deals with the issues of illegal immigration and drug gangs.