Meet the Author: Luanne Rice
Luanne Rice is the New York Times bestselling author of thirty novels that have been translated into twenty-four languages. The author of Beach Girls, Crazy In Love and Cloud Nine, Rice’s books often center on love, family, nature and the sea. Rice is an avid naturalist and bird-watcher and is involved with Georgetown University Law Center’s Domestic Violence Clinic. Born in New Britain, Connecticut, Rice divides her time between New York City and Los Angeles.
Q&A with Luanne Rice
Q: Why was it so important to you to include the theme of domestic violence in Little Night and what do you hope readers will take away from the novel?
A: Of all secrets, abuse is one of the most dangerous. I wanted to write about how domestic violence affected one family--not just the person it happened to, but everyone around her.
Q: You were hospitalized on a trauma unit at McLean in Belmont, MA, a place known for helping writers such as Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, James Taylor, and Susannah Kaysen. How did the abuse affect your writing, and how did treatment at McLean help you?
A: McLean Hospital was my haven during a very dark time. The staff there is unbelievably kind. They are brilliant and tender and understand the soft spot in every human soul. Abuse, by its nature, breaks a person down. The people at McLean helped me find my own great strength in a very ruby slipper kind of way--I had it inside me all the time.
Q: Both Little Night and your last novel The Silver Boat feature relationships between sisters; you are the oldest of three. Why are you drawn to writing about family, sisters in particular?
A: I love writing about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. There's nowhere better to explore that than in a family. Sisters are endlessly fascinating to me. They know each other so well; there's nothing more comforting than a sister's love or more painful than a sister's betrayal.
Q: Little Night is your thirtieth novel. How does it feel to reach this important milestone? Do you feel that your writing style or subject matter has changed in major ways over the years?
A: I'm happy to have written so many books, one story at a time. I'm not sure how my writing style has changed. My characters have always been wiser than I; maybe I'm catching up to them a little as life goes on.
Q: You took interesting jobs to support yourself as a young writer: a maid for an illustrious family in Newport, RI, a parking lot attendant at the beach, a children’s ski teacher and a chambermaid at a hotel. Which experiences were your favorite and least favorite?
A: Working as a maid was my favorite. I got to do my work in silence, while letting my imagination run wild as I washed the dishes and made the family's beds. Being a chambermaid was hard because there was a checklist. I'm not so good with checklists.
Q: How did you react when you found out that your first book, Angels All Over Town, was going to be published?
A: I was over the moon.
Q: Your books focus on some combination of love, family, nature, and the sea. You bring New York City’s natural areas to vivid life in Little Night with the characters of Clare and Paul who are urban birders. How do you revisit these themes while keeping your writing fresh?
A: As themes family and nature are so enormous and varied, I can't imagine ever visiting the same ground twice.
Q: Describe a typical writing day.
A: I wake up early, drink coffee with the cats, look out the window for a while, then get to my desk. I write till it's time to stop--my characters and the story let me know when that is.
Q: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
A: Hiking, swimming, going to plays, reading, playing with my cats, watching birds, staring at the stars, talking to my sister and nieces, being with my friends.
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
A: Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, because of the way he writes about siblings.
Interview Date: June 2012
Profile and questions compiled by Christine B