Novelist Audrey Niffenegger ("The Time Traveler's Wife," "Her Fearful Symmetry") works in a book-filled room in her stately Victorian home on Chicago's West Side. She keeps a lot of things on her desk, including certain members of an ever-growing menagerie of stuffed animals. But Niffenegger is unsentimental about her things. "I also write in hotel rooms and wherever I happen to be," she says. "And it would be cumbersome to haul talismans around." She does, however, have a favorite object on her desk: a small plaster head. "It was meant for the head of a saint, one of those figures in a church that are dressed so ornately," she says. "She would have been painted, but perhaps she is defective somehow because she has been left plain. She has a faraway gaze and a small smile that I find pleasing." Kevin Nance is a Chicago-based freelance writer whose work appears in the Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Poets & Writers Magazine and elsewhere.
Keri Wiginton, Chicago Tribune