Thursday, May 14, 2009
A WRITER AT HOME: GAIL CARSON LEVINE
Where do you work best at home?
Two places: the kitchen and my office. I have a laptop on the kitchen table. Don’t tell anyone, but I’m very short. My chair in the kitchen looks just like my husband David’s unless you look closely, and then you’ll see that the legs on mine are about four inches taller, so my chin clears the table top and I can type pretty comfortably. In my office the chair is wound up as high as it goes, and on top there’s a needlepoint cushion that a friend made for me. My office is a small room with a twin bed that I meditate on sometime during the morning. On the walls hang photos David took, two original picture-book illustrations by Cor Hazelaar, and a drawing of me sleeping that my sister did when I was about seven and she was twelve. She was an amazing artist even then. The window overlooks the backyard. When I’m stuck in a book, I stare out at an ancient hemlock and ancient maple trees and an ancient outhouse that the early owners of our house used to use. I think the trees give me most of the inspiration, but maybe it’s the outhouse!
What time of day would we find you there?
In the kitchen and writing, while I’m eating breakfast and lunch and my late-night snack. In my office, most of the rest of the time, unless I’m visiting schools or going to a conference or a writing retreat or walking our Airedale Baxter or working out (I lift weights) or watching TV. Not that I’m writing all the time I’m in the office. I find lots of ways to goof off at my desk – emails, googling for something I think I may need and then getting sidetracked, looking in a reference book and then getting sidetracked.
What is your favorite comfort food while you work?
In my office I drink herbal tea constantly, mostly mint. I am skinny. I am not a nosher, except for snack time at night. I’ve sworn off ice cream, boo hoo!, which used to be my fave, but my sinuses rebelled, so now I’m trying to find the perfect snack without resorting to actually baking. I eat cookies, store-bought pies, figs, dates, pound cake. All my teeth are sweet!
How does home feed into your work?
Not sure. I write everywhere: hotels, airports, trains. But I have my reference material at home: my English usage books, costume books, art books that I refer to when I want to describe a character physically, my own books that I sometimes need to go back to. I’m frustrated when these things aren’t there and I need them. Of course, I’m most comfortable when I’m home, but I’m most distractible too. If I’m in a not-so-pleasant place, working can take my mind off my surroundings.
Gail Carson Levine is the author of the Newbery honor book Ella Enchanted and fifteen more books for children. Right now she is working on a mystery for kids that is mystifying her! She lives with her husband David and dog Baxter in New York’s Hudson valley in a 219-year-old house. Despite the outhouse outside, the house just got a new bathroom upstairs, which is so pretty she may have a party in it, and you may be invited!
The Harper Collins' website has more about Gail.
If you missed Erica Perl's AT HOME profile, please take a look.
Posted by Kimberly at 5:00 AM