Anne Tyler opens up to NPR

Baltimore author Anne Tyler granted a rare interview to NPR, and it was aired today -- giving fans a look at her writing life. (It also included a charming map and photographs that dovetail with her writing.)

Tyler's novels often evoke scenes of Roland Park, where she lived for years. Her 20th, "The Beginner's Goodbye," scheduled for release Tuesday, also is set among the neighborhood's Victorian homes and leafy streets. It's described by publisher Random House as "a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel in which she explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances — in their house, on the roadway, in the market." Here are some excerpts from the NPR interview:

On her thoughts as she begins to write: "I have nothing to say. In fact, that's the first thing that occurs to me as I sit down with my piece of paper: I have nothing to say. Why do I think I could do this? And the first pages that I write are just the most mechanical pages where characters are being moved around like puppets."

On finishing a book: "I send the book to New York to be read by my agent. I picture them on a train, and my heart is broken. I mean, I'm thinking of how they're sort of limited people or shy people, and they're just so brave to be going up there on their own. It's really anthropomorphic. But then, after they get accepted, so to speak, and they're a book on their own, I'm like a mother cat with kittens. I never think about them again. They're gone."

On the death of her husband 15 years ago: "The thought that came to me was: 'I just don't understand. Where did he go?' He was this exuberant man who was a real enjoyer. And that's just gone without a trace. It's just not possible. All that was being mulled around for 10 or 12 years before I started the book."

On the future: "I always say, when I die and go to heaven, I'm going to have an 11-year-old daughter and a new cat and I'm going to be in the middle of a book. I'm just trying to get there."



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