Jen Michalski

Baltimore author Jen Michalski (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun photo / May 16, 2013)

What was the hardest lesson you've learned so far?

"That, as a writer (but more importantly as a person), failure is inevitable. You have to put it all aside and keep working, because you're not writing for anyone's approval or publication or your legacy. You're writing for yourself."

What's a fact about yourself that will surprise people?

"For a so-called 'creative' person, I'm very regimented. I get up the same time, take my dog out for walks at the same time, eat meals at the same time. I only get chocolate snowballs with marshmallow, although every year I tell myself I will try something different."

What do you do to relax?

"Actually, I don't relax much. My father died when he was my age now, 41. I think subconsciously I worry about wasting my time on earth."

Your (other) dream job would be ...

"I would love to have an animal rescue farm."

What's on your playlist?

"Wild Beasts, Grizzly Bear, Field Music, Cymbals Eat Guitars (all indie bands), but also some Sarah Vaughn, Lionel Hampton, Sonny Rollins, Miles Davis."

What is your favorite book?

"My favorite children's book is Louise Fitzhugh's 'Harriet the Spy.' As an adult, I was especially moved by John Kennedy Toole's 'A Confederacy of Dunces' and Donna Tartt's 'The Little Friend.'"

What's your favorite vacation destination?

"I really like Newport [Rhode Island], San Francisco and visiting friends who live in coastal South Carolina. Whether I'm at home or on vacation, I always need to be close to water."