Do you distinguish between “commercial” and “literary” fiction? Where’s that line, for you?
I don’t, and I believe the great novelists of our time have taken battering rams to the distinction by attempting works of immense grandeur and scope.
How do you organize your books?
I’m blessed to maintain a large library here in my home in the Coachella Valley, and I have a devoted and loving staff who help me to ceaselessly organize as well as rearrange sections of it when the need arises. It’s nothing like what it used to be when I lived in New Orleans and maintained cavernous rooms of books at my homes in the Garden District or the St. Elizabeth’s building. To get my library to its current size I’ve had to give many books away. Sometimes I sell them through Powell’s in Portland, Ore. The fact that so many have my notes handwritten in the margins appeals to some of their buyers.
What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?
I’m not sure there’s a particular book, but I think some might be surprised by the sheer volume of science writing I own. When you invent alternate worlds and supernatural cosmologies it can be incredibly inspiring to read about how little we still know about the underlying fabric of the universe.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Tolstoy and Dickens, without a doubt. And perhaps my late husband, Stan, who was a brilliant poet and painter. I miss him terribly. We were married for over 40 years before he died of a brain tumor in 2002.
What books are you embarrassed not to have read yet?
I’m always playing catch-up with books by my talented loved ones. My brilliant son, Christopher Rice, has so many wonderful thrillers and is bringing out several gay romances next year. And my hilarious best friend, Eric Shaw Quinn, has the “Write Murder” mystery series. He’s our family’s beloved raconteur. Christopher and Eric also produce wonderful podcasts together at TheDinnerPartyShow.com.
When you come from a family of writers and artists, it can be a challenge to stay abreast of their work and also to not intrude onto their process with your feedback and responses. I am known to be passionate in my responses to things.