Do you distinguish between “commercial” and “literary” fiction? Where is that line for you?
I do not, and I believe that the great novelists of our time have brought battering rams to distinction by attempting works of immense grandeur and scope.
How do you organize your books?
I am blessed to have a large library here in my home in the Coachella Valley, and I have a dedicated and loving staff who help me relentlessly organize and rearrange portions of it as needed. It’s not like it was when I lived in New Orleans and kept cavernous rooms of books in my Garden District or St Elizabeth’s houses. To get my library to its current size, I had to give away many books. Sometimes I sell them through Powell’s in Portland, Oregon. The fact that so many have handwritten my notes in the margins appeals to some of their buyers.
What book might surprise people when they hit your shelves?
I’m not sure if there is a particular book, but I think some might be surprised by the sheer amount of scientific writing I own. When imagining alternate worlds and supernatural cosmologies, it can be incredibly inspiring to read how little we still know about the underlying structure of the universe.
You are organizing a literary dinner. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Tolstoy and Dickens, no doubt. And perhaps my late husband, Stan, who was a brilliant poet and painter. I miss him terribly. We were married for over 40 years before he died of a brain tumor in 2002.
What books are you ashamed of not having read?
I’m always catching up on books from my talented loved ones. My brilliant son, Christopher Rice, has so many wonderful thrillers and is putting out several gay novels next year. And my hilarious best friend, Eric Shaw Quinn, has the mystery series ‘Write Murder’. He is our family’s beloved storyteller. Christopher and Eric also produce wonderful podcasts together on TheDinnerPartyShow.com.
If you come from a family of writers and artists, it can be challenging to keep up to date with their work and also not to interfere with your feedback and reactions in their process. I am known for being passionate in my reactions to things.