After a while, the fear became a habit, too. —Celeste Ng, Everything I Never Told You

For the most part the connections that emerged from assembling these interviews were literary rather than personal. Mo Yan was influenced by Günter Grass, and they were both inspired by William Faulkner, who is clearly a beacon to Toni Morrison and Joyce Carol Oates, the latter of whom taught Jonathan Safran Foer, who it is often said borrows from David Foster Wallace — although Foer did not read him until recently — and Wallace himself pointed his compass to Don DeLillo, who on the subject of inspiration keeps his own counsel. And around it goes.

This fellowship — the deep connection of writer to writer as readers — is a hopeful thing, because it means that it is open to anyone who is a reader and who plans to be a writer.

John Freeman, How to Read a Novelist, “U and Me:  The Hard Lessons of Idolizing John Updike”
I have always felt there is something electrifying about meeting novelists. It isn’t like running into a celebrity, where your eye readjusts to the true physical contours of someone seen primarily on-screen. It has to do with grasping that the creator of a fictional world, a universe that lives inside you as a reader while also feeling strangely disembodied, is not as interior as that world but alive: flesh and blood. —John Freeman, How to Read a Novelist, “U and Me:  The Hard Lessons of Idolizing John Updike”

Dani Shapiro, Still Writing

This was a time of life, she understood, in which you might not know what you were, but that was all right. You judged people not on their success — almost no one they knew was successful at age twenty-two, and no one had a nice apartment, owned anything of value, dressed in expensive clothes, or had any interest in making money — but on their appeal. The time period between the ages of, roughly, twenty to thirty was often amazingly fertile. Great work might get done during this ten-year slice of time. Just out of college, they were gearing up, ambitious not in a calculating way, but simply eager, not yet tired. —Meg Wolitzer, The Interestings

Jeff Vandermeer, Annihilation

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with tranquility: they must have action; and they will make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex. —Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre
To be a good cook, you can’t be afraid of challenge and failure. —

Jo Kyung-ran, Tongue

(to be a good anything, i dare say, you can’t be afraid of challenge and failure.  or rejection.)

"It’s me," she said. "Just me."

“I know,” he said, and kissed her. —Jonathan Franzen, Freedom
There is, after all, a kind of happiness in unhappiness, if it’s the right unhappiness. —Jonathan Franzen, Freedom