I do the same things I did when I was 12 years old: I ride bikes, I read books, I walk in the woods. And I listen to music.
I was 46 when 'Cold Mountain' came out. I was settled. We had a nice house in Raleigh and a horse farm.
I've lived out West some... I've always liked the High Plains areas - eastern Colorado, eastern Wyoming, western Nebraska.
People who are isolated interest me, whether they isolate themselves or have been isolated by circumstances.
Well, I'm a slow writer. For me, a good day is a page, maybe a page and a half. I'd love to be more efficient, but I am not.
From my childhood, I remember a tiny old woman named Mary, made pale and almost translucent by time. Mary's childhood memories extended back to the confusing and violent finale of the Civil War, and she told stories of brutal murders in those days and refused to name some of the killers, as if dead men might still be prosecuted in the late 1950s.
Hardboiled crime fiction came of age in 'Black Mask' magazine during the Twenties and Thirties. Writers like Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler learnt their craft and developed a distinct literary style and attitude toward the modern world.
I met people when we lived down in Raleigh who'd ask where I grew up, and I'd say about two hours west of Asheville, and they'd say they didn't know there was any North Carolina two hours west of Asheville. It was in many ways an isolated place.
I remember my father checking on a mountain kid who hadn't been coming to school. My father had this beautiful Harris tweed overcoat. He came back with a knife cut all down one side. The parents had told him it was none of his business why their son wasn't going to school.
I've always thought Harper Lee might have made a great decision. Much as you'd like to have more books by her, there's something about just one that's kind of mysterious and nice. On the other hand, the New York gossip about me was that I'd never write another book. So I thought, 'Well, I will then.'
I've never been very attached to genre labels and never set out intentionally to write historic fiction. Besides, what you consider historic depends on how far back your memory extends.
One time at the University of Colorado, at a faculty dinner, this professor said to me, 'Well, my goodness, a boy from Appa-lay-chee-a with a Ph.D!' The dinner was in her house. And I said, 'My grandparents didn't have indoor plumbing, but they had more books in their house than you do.' I was a little insulted by the Appa-lay-chee-a business.