Interviewing one of my literary role models

still lifeRegardless of the field in which you work, you’ve probably identified a role model or two. It may be your boss (lucky you!), a beloved professor, a family friend or a star in the field.

One of mine is Anna Quindlen. Her nonfiction work for the New York Times and Newsweek and the resulting collection of columns paint a portrait of a smart, informed woman who uses her pen to engage the world around her. Quindlen is award winning—she received a Pulitzer in 1992 for her Times column “Public and Private”—but she’s not exclusively a “career woman.” She’s also a mom and a wife whose family seem to be at the heart of her world, judging by the way she writes about them in her columns and book dedications. (As I recently finished “Rise and Shine”—one of the few Anna Quindlen books I hadn’t read—I marveled at the dedication to her daughter Maria. “Fearless, powerful, utterly amazing. I want to be you when I grow up.”)

I’m a fairly young woman and a journalist, but I also love essays (“How Reading Changed My Life” was my introduction to Quindlen’s work) and fiction. I’m fortunately surrounded by people whose paths show me that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer for life as a woman, whether you stay at home with children or work an office job—or something in between. And I’m also lucky to have the careers of such women as Quindlen and Nora Ephron for inspiration.

So when I persuaded my editor at BookPage to let me send a few questions Quindlen’s way on the occasion of her latest novel’s publication, one of the first things I asked was about her own female role models. You can read how she answered–as well as the rest of our discussion–at, and you can read my review of “Still Life with Bread Crumbs” in the February issue of BookPage. (The book was published today, and it’s my favorite Quindlen novel yet.)

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