When I was writing 'The Abstinence Teacher,' I really tried to immerse myself in contemporary American evangelical culture.
I'm used to adapting my novels for feature film - it can be challenging to cut and compress three or four hundred pages into two hours of dramatic action.
I have actual dreams of Bruce Springsteen calling me up on stage to wear a bandanna and play rhythm guitar next to Little Steven.
A screenwriter heard me read from my novel 'The Wishbones' when it was still in progress and mentioned me to some producers in Hollywood. They called, and I told them I had a novel in my drawer about a high school election that goes haywire. They asked to take a look, and my life changed pretty dramatically as a result.
I was writing very early, like I was involved in our high school literary magazine, which was called 'Pariah.' The football team was the Bears, and the literary magazine was 'Pariah.' It was great. It was definitely a real sub-culture. But I wrote stories for them.
I read 'The Great Gatsby' in high school and was hypnotized by the beauty of the sentences and moved by the story about the irrevocability of lost love.
I don't really distinguish between sympathy and honesty when I'm writing. The two go together - I'm interested in inhabiting my characters, seeing the world through their eyes.
I find that even small changes sometimes jog you out of a mental rut.
Nothing beats novel writing because it's complete expression of you. You just control everything. Not even a movie director has that level of control.
My mythic version of America is very much about parents and children, and in my experience, the suburban setting is where that particular drama plays out. Which isn't to say that there aren't parents and children in cities or on farms. I just don't know them.
I used to describe myself as a comic novelist, but my concerns seem to have darkened over the past few years.
I did a lot of reading of the Bible and became fascinated with the idea of the Rapture. It's pretty wild. I hadn't heard of it until I was in college.
I've been a little bit obsessed with religion, without being a religious person, for about a decade.
The few times I've tried to write original screenplays, it's a difficult process because I just don't feel like I know the characters the way I know them after the year or two it takes to write a novel.
I'm not sure that it's possible to write a novel about people who don't transgress or stumble, people who don't surprise themselves with the things they do, people who can explain all their actions with perfect logical consistency. At least it's not possible for me to write that sort of novel.