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Interview with Amy Bloom

In Capital Letters: What is your favorite and least favorite partof the writing process? The most surprising? The most challenging?

My least favorite part of the writing process is the publishing process. Publicityand marketing and sales are, I know, very important. But they are not the things that matter. The favorite part of the writing process is having a cup of coffee, reading a book, and knowing that nobody is going to bother me for a few hours. The most surprising part is at the end people I don't know will read my words on the page. Most challenging is the inevitable bad day.

ICL: Your fiction is very often focused on the unconventional liaisons between characters from markedly different backgrounds. What about these encounters compel you?

  I think that there is nothing more surprising peculiar, or unlikely than the combination of a man and a woman; after that coupling all others seem quite conventional. If not conventional, understandable.

ICL: Lionel and Julia, characters first introduced in your winning collection Come to Me, appear again in Blind Man can See How Much I Love You. Can you tell us more about your relationship with these two characters?

The opportunity to tell the story of this family over the course of 30 years was wonderful, and opportunity to see unborn children become toddlers and then teenagers, to see an unhappy, immature man change his life and become a father and a husband.

ICL: In another interview you mentioned that Great Neck, Long Island was probably not the town to which you were “best suited.” How much has your life there affected who you are today and, by extension, your written work?

I think its safe it say that like every other human being on the earth I was affected by my childhood and birthplace. Great Neck was a gift to me for the wonderful teachers and the beautiful parks.The social hierarchy of the community and the schools weren't great for me, but I doubt that it would have been different anywhere else.

ICL: You were also trained as a psychotherapist before you started writing. What inspired you to write and how much do you believe that your experience in that field shapes your work?

I still don't know what—aside from a tremendous love of books and reading—inspired me to write, and I'm grateful for whatever it was. Although there are certain aspects of my training as a therapist that have come in handy as a writer (listening, observing, not jumping to conclusions) I think it is an interest in people's stories, lives, and secrets that drew me to psychotherapyas a first career and to writing as a second.

ICL: If your life had a theme song right now, what would it be?

Let's start out with "Born That Way" by Lady Gaga, and end with "At Last" by Etta James.

Amy Bloom

Photo: Beth Kelly