Question: What inspired your new stories, which take place in the U.S.A., Japan, Switzerland and, in particular, with “The Curator,” in New York’s highly competitive, colorful, sometimes wacky art world, which you have observed as an arts journalist and critic for many years?
Answer: I had been collecting observations and impressions — sometimes just the memory of a certain face or gesture, or of the way someone moved as he or she crossed the street, or of a fragment of overheard conversation — and, little by little, they started coming together, developing into stories that almost seemed to write themselves
Q.: Are they autobiographical?
A.: Of course, some of the details of these stories are based on real people, places or events I’ve actually known or witnessed myself, and it’s exciting to see them come to life in fictional form on the page.
Q.: From the nerdy young illustrator in “No Smoking” and the new friends he meets in Claire’s garden to the Japanese children in “Moon” and “Apple,” or the elderly flower-seller in Tokyo in “Shrine,” or the jovial Mexican housekeeper in “The Curator” — several of your characters seem to be quite sensitive about the world around them.
A.: As the creator of all of these characters, I’ve literally given them life and their respective voices. They’re like my children! I feel that I really know them. Yes, I think they are sensitive individuals. More precisely, I think they are willing to be vulnerable and to go out into the world, allowing their vulnerability to show, even if they are not aware that they are doing so.
Q.: They’re believable characters?
A.: They’re alive!