What’s so interesting about Palm Beach? Why is it highlighted in your novels? I live in Palm Beach and it’s a wonderful town in many ways. My books are about people, though, and I could just as easily have set them in many other places. Every wealthy community has its own Worth Avenue, for example, so my focus is less on the high-end stores and restaurants that can be found there than on the behavior of the people who seek them out.
When you decided to write your novels, did you worry at all about how they would be perceived in your hometown? It’s funny, an audience member at a reading actually asked me, perhaps jokingly, if it had become necessary for me to hire bodyguards. I really haven’t had any problems, though, because the people who deserve to be satirized rarely have the degree of insight that would be necessary for them to realize that they’re the target of the satire.
I love how some of the names in your books are a double-edged sword, like Dudley Drane, who heads up the self-help seminars at Morningwood, or Dot Chillingsworth, who is on the Goiter Gala committee. Did you consciously develop character names to signify something? I can’t recall ever having made a conscious effort to come up with a name for a character, despite the fact that they’re very important to me. They just seem to spring into my mind and only later on do I figure out their significance. Take the name Oliver Booth, for example. As best I can determine, my selection of a name with the letter “O” in three places was probably influenced by Oliver’s portly physique, and those letters also could hint at the number zero and perhaps his absence of character and substance.
How do you stay inspired as an author? The answer is both very simple and very complicated. The secret is to live life. It can only be through living life to the fullest that an author can continue to evolve as a person and thus as a writer.
Who are you reading? I joke that I only read books by deceased Frenchmen, and, although I love Balzac, Flaubert, and Maupassant, I also admire Evelyn Waugh and certain contemporary writers. They’re too numerous to name individually, but those to whom I’ve turned consistently over the years include Martin Amis, Julian Barnes, and Gabriel García Márquez. Perhaps my favorite author during the last ten years is a person who has a remarkably deep understanding of the human condition, Haruki Murakami.
Genre – Fiction / Humour
Rating – PG
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