Book Talk with Cyd Oppenheimer

It’s not often a writer has the utterly affirming pleasure of meeting an ideal reader. Even more rare is having that ideal reader interview you, and then do a discussion of your book on the radio with not one, but two more ideal readers. I had this great privilege a couple of weeks ago when The Half Brother was featured on Cyd Oppenheimer’s show Book Talk, on WNHH (New Haven).

The best link to the show is here. Continue reading

In my study, in my head: ephemera from THE HALF BROTHER

In a sign that my new book is now truly taking up the prime real estate in my head, psyche, and study, today I finally took down the stuff that accumulated up on the wall as I wrote The Half Brother:  quotations, images, desperate notes to myself. They’re all reminders of the path this novel took, all well-worn life jackets that saved me over and over. Of course I’ll save them. But before they disappear into a file drawer, I thought I’d share a few. Continue reading

You must build a fence

For mothers, fathers, caretakers. For anyone, really.

You must build a fence.

Make the space inside the fence as big as you can; but the more important thing is to have it be absolutely clear. It must be only pasture. It must be only free waving grasses and wildflowers and blankness. The space needs nothing from you. The metropolis of your life will be beyond the fence, built up to the very edge; but when you enter the pasture the city will disappear behind the fence, and you will hear only birds and the wind. Continue reading


I posted recently about Nancy Pearl‘s lovely mention of The Half Brother on her show on KUOW Public Radio. As she was speaking of my book and the question of coincidence, she said, “Where would Sophocles be without coincidence?” (My publicist: “She compared Holly to Sophocles! We’ll take it!”) I’ve already mentioned that I’d had the Oedipus cycle in mind while writing. But I often do, apparently. I had completely forgotten about this piece written when The Swimming Pool came out, about this very same topic…perhaps I will always be writing about secrets, fate, and “coincidence.” Here it is, in full. Continue reading

Literary conversation

The renowned librarian and book lover Nancy Pearl recently talked about The Half Brother on Seattle NPR station KUOW. She did something unusual: raved (RAVED) about the book, but also asked readers to weigh on on their opinions of the plot. She wonders, how much coincidence is too much? And references Sophocles and his Oedipus cycle–which, not coincidentally, I was thinking of, and read several times, while writing The Half Brother. Continue reading

Research notes

(Thank you to Necessary Fiction for hosting me for their “Research Notes” feature. I thought my entire piece would be variations on “I don’t do research,” but it didn’t quite end up that way.)

Research. This is one of those topics where I don’t entirely trust myself. There are novelists out there who do copious amounts of research, for years. I am not one of them. However, whenever I don’t want to do something, I usually assume that means that I should. I suppose this is because I was raised a southern Presbyterian. Continue reading

Who’s Talking: Interview with D.G. Martin

I had the pleasure of talking with North Carolina personality D.G. Martin last week while I was in Chapel Hill. He’s a voracious reader (read my book in a day and a half after a Fedex snafu), former Green Beret and a Democratic politician–an actual renaissance man. He asked great questions about both The Half Brother and The Swimming Pool, and I hope he asks me back soon, even though I went to school at the wrong end of Tobacco Road. Here’s the link.