Danzon is my favorite Cuban music, played by a traditional string orchestra with flute and piano. It's very formally structured but romantic music, which derives from the French-Haitian contradance.
Eventually, I decided that if I was going to really write a novel, I couldn't do it in New York City while holding down a job. You need a constant money source to live in New York City unless you're independently wealthy, which I'm not.
It's really a misconception to identify the writer with the main character, given that the author creates all the characters in the book. In certain ways, I'm every character.
L.A. is a great place to write because you have a lot of space. I have a big office at home, I can leave the doors open. Flowers bloom all year. But it's unglamorous in all the right ways.
I am occasionally enraptured by Western landscape. But I don't identify that state of mind as having to do with my own origins, having grown up in the West, although I certainly crisscrossed Nevada countless times growing up, and then as a young adult, in cars and on motorcycles.
When I see things in the world that leap out at me, I want to make use of them in fiction. Maybe every writer does that. It just depends on what you claim or appropriate as yours.
One of the strategies for doing first-person is to make the narrator very knowing, so that the reader is with somebody who has a take on everything they observe.
I didn't do a masters in creative writing until I was 26, which is quite old, and then I found myself in New York and I needed money, so I started working full time as an editor.
I shy away from plot structure that depends on the characters behaving in ways that are going to eventually be explained by their childhood, or by some recent trauma or event. People are incredibly complicated. Who knows why they are the way they are?
I was very precocious when I was young. I went to college at 16, and I graduated at 20. I wanted to be a writer, but I was more interested in experience than in applying myself intellectually.
Writing a first novel was an arduous crash course. I learned so much in the six years it took me to write it, mostly technical things pertaining to craft.