My years spent as a linguist taught me to listen to English very carefully. That, and Pablo Neruda, who had the capacity to mix harsh realities with physical beauty. My years as a journalist taught me to listen, and the years working as a book editor taught me to see. Writers like Patrick White, Somerset Maugham, Albert Camus, Brautigan (hundreds, really) guided me towards a kind of fiction that takes a fearless look at life and how to shape its harsh realities into noble existence. (They accomplished it, I'm still working on that. more...