Each year before Islanders Write, The MV Times asks the writers taking part in the event a series of random questions. Last week we printed a selection of their answers; this week we invite you to enjoy the sequel.
Brain food or comfort food — which do you prefer to eat while writing?
Marc Brown: If things are going well, I forget to eat. If they don’t go so well, I begin imagining what kind of pizza I want to order.
Laurie Lindeen: Comfort, preferably Dove chocolate squares with the magical thinking messages inside the wrapper.
Dawn Davis: Coffee.
Gregory Mone: Brain food! Why should anyone be comfortable while writing?
Frank Bergon: Neither. All the best writers say to avoid thinking about food or listening to music while writing.
Jennifer Smith Turner: Comfort food — salty and sweet!
Katherine Sherbrooke: Brain food — if coffee with coconut oil counts as food! I add some other plant nutrients to the coffee so I can write for as long as possible before needing to break for a late breakfast.
The most challenging part of writing during the pandemic for you has been?
Nancy Slonim Aronie: The pandemic wasn’t challenging for me. It was the first time I slowed down, stopped actually, and had no more excuses about why I didn’t have enough time to write.
Geraldine Brooks: Realizing that the research I’d done was all I’d be doing: no more travel, no more archives.
Susan Wilson: As I was finishing up my last novel during the first pandemic year, and it came out in June of the second pandemic year, it wasn’t really a factor in my writing. Now, however, I am, as many authors are, trying to figure out how to handle the syllabu in any contemporary novel. Ignore it? Utilize it? Write stories that take place in the before times?
Misan Sagay: Trying to write with ALL the family underfoot all day. “MUM!!!!!!”
Elizabeth Benedict: It turned out to be a good time to write. There was nothing else to do except worry, do puzzles, and wash off groceries.
Bob Drogin: Putting words on paper is always the hardest part of writing, pandemic or no.
Hannah Halperin: It’s hard for me to write when I feel stagnant. I missed writing in coffee shops or libraries, being around lots of people while I work, and all the little human interactions that normally make up a day. When writing was going well, it felt like a refuge. When it wasn’t happening, it was a lot easier to say, I’ll do it another day.
E. Lockhart: Honestly, I could write. But it was painful having four books come out [over the course of the first two pandemic years] and not find their audiences.
Merissa Nathan Gerson: I wrote a book on death, grief, and PTSD alone at home during the pandemic. The hardest thing was not being able to hug people when necessary, and not being able to take some days writing in a coffee shop for the buzz and community.
Richard Michelson: The only thing the pandemic was good for was writing, as there were no unnecessary conferences, lectures, parties to attend (let me clarify that IW is a necessary conference).
Sarah Kernochan: Staying off news sites. I fail at this every day.
Fran Schumer: I did my best writing during the pandemic. The outside world stopped.
If you were to write a book, fiction or nonfiction, that takes place on the Vineyard, what would the first line be?
Gregory Mone: All happy beach associations are alike; each unhappy beach association is unhappy in its own way.
Callie Crossley: Imani swiped her lips with her favorite lip gloss and smiled at her image; everybody knew you did not go into the Art Cliff diner looking any ol’ kind of way.
Marc Brown: When he stepped off the boat, he couldn’t know that this island would change his life.
Dawn Davis: Nancy Michael is what they called me, but it wasn’t my name — and that’s not the only thing that plaque up in old Chilmark got wrong.
Susan Wilson: The story was that old Oscar Smith never left the island after his return in 1945 from World War II; he said that for a boy who had never before been off the island, seeing the world from the deck of a destroyer was enough for him.
Judith Hannan: It was only noon, and the screen door had already slammed for the 50th time so far that day.
Laurie LIndeen: It’s true, I’m a wash-ashore from flyover country, and my only defense, to use regional parlance, is that I freakin’ love it here.
James Dale: Sitting in the ferry wait-list line, I saw a family of skunks get right on the next boat …”
John Hough, Jr.: The island lies six miles south of Cape Cod, a summer playground for movie stars, ex-presidents, hedge fund billionaires, and Pulitzer prizewinning authors — exactly the place, thought Jimmy “the Horse” Scalisi, to go looking for a wife.
Katherine Sherbrooke: The fields came in waves, the stone walls disappearing over each swell, and she had to remind herself that she was no longer in the endless horse country of her youth, but on a floating apostrophe to the mainland, surrounded on all sides by water.
James Lapine: Who do you have to f___ to get off this island?