C: What do you think about death, and how often do you think it?
Y.S.: My death date is fixed and there’s nothing I can do to change that, so there’s no point in fearing it. I guess I’m either a fatalist or spectacularly in denial. Same difference?
C.: What has been the greatest disappointment of your life and have you enhanced or rationalized it?
Y.S.: My greatest disappointment is a pattern of quitting things that I wasn’t naturally, effortlessly, instantly excellent at – ballet, music theory, and organic chemistry. I went on to overcompensate for such early scenes of shame by making myself finish things I really didn’t need to – eg, a PhD in English literature. I am intellectually lopsided but no longer 100% a quitter, and that is rationalization enough for me.
C: Your books are richly detailed and inventive, and as such, I resent you. Do you ever fear that the ideas in your head will run dry, as though they were a river made up of ideas that ran dry?
C: Your protagonist, Mary Quinn, is plucky, funny, resourceful and determined. Why create such an unrealistic and unappealing role model for young people?
Y.S.: It’s essential for all people – not just young ones – to have unrealistic role models. Without these remote ideals, how can we measure the dissatisfying inadequacy of our daily lives? And where would we escape when confronted by the crushing reality? Without escapist fiction, we would be forced to perform clichés like pulling up our bootstraps and changing our ways. With fiction, we can instead feel the benefits of transformation without exerting ourselves.