What was your inspiration for this book?
Each summer, Oxford University Press USA and Bryant Park in New York City partner for their summer reading series Word for Word Book Club. The Bryant Park Reading Room offers free copies of book club selection while supply lasts, compliments of Oxford University Press, and guest speakers lead the group in discussion. On Tuesday 21 August, Suzzy Roche leads a discussion on The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton, and will perform it at the end.
I had written a short story called “Love” and that turned out to be an outline for my book Wayward Saints (although I didn’t know it at the time). I never thought I’d be able to write a novel. It was a miracle, a blessing, and a mysterious event in my life.
Where do you do your best writing?
In my living room or anywhere I can be alone.
Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?
Because I’ve been a songwriter and performer most of my life, I think writing just became a part of my daily routine. When I was young, I wrote stories and poems, having no idea I would or could ever write a book.
Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
What is your secret talent?
Problem-solving and dreaming while awake.
What is your favorite book?
Too hard! Currently House of Mirth by Edith Wharton because that’s the one I’ve been studying for the Word for Word book discussion.
Who reads your first draft?
My friend and superb author Meg Wolitzer has been a wonderful reader for me, and mostly because we’ve exchanged work. But now I have a writing group and I have a special writing buddy, Harriet Goldman, who is also working on a novel. I think it’s enormously helpful to get a glimpse into other writer’s processes. Sharing work requires trust, though, and it’s not possible or even a good idea to trust everyone.
Do you read your books after they’ve been published?
No, just like I never listen to my CDs after they are done. But I would like to re-write my book and re-record all my CDs.
Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?
Computer. My handwriting is egregious.
What book are you currently reading? (Old school or e-Reader?)
I just read Christopher Isherwood’s My Guru and His Disciple. A very pure book.
What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing?
The word seemed. I’ve come to detest the word in my own writing. I noticed that Edith Wharton used the word “disinterestedness” an enormous amount. I’ve never heard that word before.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I wish I could work one-on-one with children who are shy and lonesome.
Along with her sisters, Suzzy Roche is a founding member of the beloved singing group the Roches, whose debut recording was named Album of the Year by the New York Times in 1979. She has appeared on Saturday Night Live, the Late Show with David Letterman, and the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Roche lives in New York City, and Wayward Saints is her first novel.
Read previous interviews with Word for Word Book Club guest speakers.