Gabrielle Zevin’s novel, The Hole We’re In, was just reissued by Grove Press/Black Cat. We asked her a few questions about her writing process and what she’s reading (and rereading) now.
Who do you most wish would read your book? (your boss, your childhood bully, etc.)
Sympathetic strangers are my favorite.
How do you tackle writers block?
When it’s least expecting it, I throw my entire body at it until it’s begging me to stop.
What’s the best or worst writing advice you’ve ever received?
The best and worst piece of writing advice I’ve ever received is “write every day.” You do need to write every day to develop the stamina and skills to write a novel (i.e., craft), and yet, you should only write when you have something to say. Any writing advice that overly emphasizes a daily word count is dodgy. The point shouldn’t be the joyless, incremental wringing of a novel from a writer.
Which book(s) do you reread?
I love when I’m “in conversation” with an author because it gives me an excuse to re-read their books. I read all of Celeste Ng again last fall for an event we did with PEN, and my second time through her oeuvre was so rewarding. The reread is when you can discern the subtle craft that goes into a great writer’s work. It can be revelatory, and I wish I had time to do it more often.
How do you decide what to read next?
I’m a capricious despot. All my books fear me. They never know who will be picked and who will be left to languish for years.
How do you organize your bookshelves?
Old stuff pushed to the back when new stuff comes in. Waiting for the inevitable collapse.
The Hole We’re In by Gabrielle Zevin is available from Grove Press/Black Cat.