Will you sign a book for my girlfriend/wife/pal/boyfriend if I send it to you?
I would be happy to sign a book for you. Please send the book to me c/o Printworks Gallery, 311 West Superior Street, Chicago, IL 60654. Please use reusable packaging, include a note explaining how you would like the book signed and please enclose return postage. Because I travel a lot, it may take a few weeks for me to sign the book and return it, so please allow plenty of time before your anniversary/wedding/birthday/Xmas.
Will you visit our book group?
Although I am a big fan of book groups, I don’t visit them anymore. Every time I’ve tried it we all ended up feeling a bit awkward; it’s difficult to have a knock-down-drag-out discussion of a novel when the author is sitting there drinking iced tea in your living room.
Will you read/blurb my manuscript?
I don’t usually read anything before it has been accepted for publication, so if your editor wants to send your galley to my agent that’s cool. Books I have loved and blurbed in the past include Caroline Preston’s Gatsby’s Girl, Jennifer Stevenson’s Trash, Sex, Magic and Stephen Elliott’s My Girlfriend Comes to the City and Beats Me Up. I prefer quirky literary novels, speculative fiction, anything really odd.
Our charity group is having a benefit; will you donate a signed book?
Possibly. I am out of town a lot, but if I am home I will try to help you out. If you don’t hear from me it’s not that I didn’t think your charity was worthy, I was just traveling/overwhelmed/disorganized.
How come you never answer your e-mail?
Well, I sometimes manage to write back, but I don’t have a very good batting average, I’m sorry about that. I do read all my e-mail. Then I resolve to answer it after I have some more coffee. Then I end up weeks and weeks behind, and it all starts to seem overwhelming. I am in awe of Jodi Picoult, who answers all her e-mail. You should write to her.
Do you have any advice on how to get published?
My own method was to write a complete manuscript and then send queries to complete strangers until a literary agent kindly took notice of me. This is perhaps not the most efficient way to go about the thing, but it worked for me.
My advice for other writers is to get out in the writing world, take some classes, form a writing group, submit things to litmags. . . and then, once you have finished your manuscript, follow the leads your writer friends will give you to help you find an agent.
Why can’t I find e-book versions of your books?
I am not opposed to the existence of e-books; I know lots of people are wildly enthusiastic about them. But I have spent my life working with books as an art form and I am devoted to physical books. E-books in their current incarnations are still imperfect and they threaten the arts of book design and typography. As a book conservator I am also nervous about the digitization of books: will they be readable one hundred years from now? Or will thousands of books simply vanish as platforms and programs change?
E-books have certain advantages (they are searchable) and disadvantages (they are not beautiful objects in themselves and don’t display images very well). I’m sure they will improve over time, though. I don’t know when or if my books will become e-books. Writing me hostile e-mail about this will not hasten my desire.
Are you going to write a sequel to The Time Traveler’s Wife?
Probably not. Sometimes it’s much better to leave something to the imagination. But it’s very kind of you all to ask.
Do you still give tours at Highgate Cemetery?
Yes, I do. I am only in London occasionally (I live in Chicago) but when I’m there I give tours on weekends. Highgate Cemetery has many wonderful guides, each one has his or her own insights into the place. Please plan ahead if you are visiting the cemetery from outside London. There is limited space on each tour, and a limited number of tours each day. On weekdays you need to book ahead of time. You can read all about it on the Highgate Cemetery website.
What are you writing now?
I have started to work on a novel called The Chinchilla Girl in Exile. It is about a nine-year-old girl named Lizzie Varo who has hypertrichosis (she is covered with hair) and her desire to go to school (she’s been home-schooled by her clever and amusing Aunt Mariella) and what happens when she does go to school (things get weird).