"'Write about what you know' is good advice...if what you know is interesting!" - Ann Patchett.
Two + weeks ago, I was lucky enough to go to a talk given by Ann Patchett, as part of the "Writers on a New England Stage" series in Portsmouth, NH. It was vaguely funny and also appropriate that I went by myself, and the average age of the rest of the audience was about 60 years old. (I am mentally at least 83.) It was great fun, though. I've loved Ann Patchett ever since my sister-in-law got me to read Bel Canto way back in my freshman year of college! (It also surprises me to realize that was a pretty long time ago. Another sign of age.)
Anyway, Ms. Patchett gave a reading from her new book, State of Wonder, which is set in the Amazon. The basic premise is that a pharmaceutical company has a scientist deep in the Amazon in Brazil researching this bark that makes the native women able to remain fertile throughout their entire lives. They want to figure out why it works so they can create a drug to market to American women. But somebody dies, and the main character, Marina, a scientist with the company is sent down to see what happened, and adventures ensue. I haven't started reading my (super cool autographed) copy yet, but I'm excited to dig in this week. I'm sure I will have philosophical musings to report here once I finish it.
Ann Patchett was cool, calm, poised...and a funny, regular person. Because of my inflated sense of self, I believe we could be friends if we happened to meet in a more normal sort of way and she didn't happen to be famous. I really enjoyed the talk, and highly recommend listening to the podcast they have posted on New Hampshire Public Radio:
http://www.nhpr.org/write-what-you-know-only-if-its-interesting (Amazingly enough, I wrote down that quote before this was posted. I guess I wasn't the only one to think it was the quote of the evening!)
It made me toy with the idea of being an author again someday. I know right now I am pursuing other things, but that doesn't mean it is crossed off the list! Frank McCourt didn't write Angela's Ashes until he was 66, so I figure I still have time.