"Anyone who can write a letter can (probably) be a 'writer' of some sort"by Prospect Team / July 16, 2020 / Leave a comment
What is your most embarrassing moment at a book signing?
At Black Oak Books in Berkeley, some years ago, an enormous crowd (or so it seemed to me) came to my reading on a rainy day; there were many rows of seats, and some people were standing; but when the reading ended, and patrons lined up to have books signed, a good portion of the audience melted away… I was informed that the large audience was comprised partly of homeless persons who’d come into the bookstore to get out of the rain.
What is your favourite quotation?
“…the rest is the madness of art.” (Henry James)
If you were given £1m to spend on other people, what would you spend it on and why?
Why would you assume that I have not already done that? The charities I contribute to include animal rescue shelters and Centurion Ministries, an organisation that works to free wrongly convicted individuals. The majority of them are black men shockingly prosecuted on scant or no evidence, found “guilty,” and left to moulder in prisons through the US, often on death row… but don’t get me started on racist injustice in the US.
Who is your role model?
My parents Carolina and Fred Oates. They were models of love, thoughtfulness, compassion—patience and wisdom. Not well educated—both had to drop out of school in eighth grade, to work—but they were supportive of my wish to go to college; and, in time, avid book readers. They were beloved by younger friends and neighbours whom I did not know in their later years. Having lived through the Depression, and survived, my parents never complained!
What have you changed your mind about?
I am much more forgiving than I was in my earlier years. After I lost my husband Raymond Smith, in February 2008, I realised why so many people “self-medicate”—why so many are said to “abuse” alcohol and drugs. Simply to keep going when one is severely depressed—simply to exist—is a challenge. I would now never dream of criticising people for doing all that they can, even if it is short-sighted and will prove a mistake, just to keep going for one more day, not to mention one more night.