Elana K. Arnold's book Sacred is coming out in Fall 2012 and I can't wait. She's one of those people (Like Lindsay Leavitt) who writes books, raises great kids and is funny and down to earth and you sort of want her to be your best friend.
RQD: What are you working on? What interests you about these characters?
Elana K. Arnold: Right now I’m doing the research for the sequel to SACRED, my first novel, which Random House/Delacorte is publishing next fall. SACRED and its sequel entwine Kabbalistic mysticism and provocative romance. So I’m reading lots of texts, trying to deepen my own understanding of this complicated and ancient topic—Kabbalah, that is. I love my protagonist,Scarlett because she’s flawed and somewhat broken but determined to heal and grow. Also, both SACRED and its sequel deal with horses—Scarlett is an avid rider—and I love writing about horses.
RQD: What art or artists interest you?
EA: My first love, even outside of fiction, is books. I love memoir; David Sedaris thrills me, John Elder Robison’s Look Me in the Eye was wonderful, Temple Grandin is amazing. When I listen to music it’s often James Taylor. His voice brings me back to my childhood since my parents always listened to his music, too. And I have a guilty fascination with celebrities… not necessarily as ‘artists,’ but as human beings.
RQD: What book, story or poem do you return to over and over?
E: Easy. His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman is always nearby. Everything by John Irving, particularly A Prayer for Owen Meany. And Paul Auster’s books—namely The New York Trilogy—probably because I’m still trying to figure it out.
RQD: What are you reading now?
EA: Aside from texts about the Kabbalah—Arthur Green’s A Guide to the Zohar and Daniel C. Matt’s Essential Kabbalah—I’m revisiting mystery novels (a sort of pleasurable research). There are competing stacks of Agatha Christie and Harry Kemelman on my table. And I’m eagerly awaiting the release of Cheryl Strayed’s memoir Wild; I preordered it.
RQD:What did you read as a kid? What is its impact on your work now?
EA: Anything I could get my hands on. Anne of Green Gables and Gone with the Wind were huge for me, I devoured all of Christie’s books, and was fascinated by Everything You Ever Wanted to Know about Sex But were Afraid to Ask (which I found in my grandmother’s library!). All the Pretty Horses and Cowboys are my Weakness taught me that you could write about horses without being insipid. I read literary fiction—Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Salinger, Rand—and trashy bodice-ripper romances. I was an indiscriminate reader. I think the result is that as a writer I smash together everything I love, highbrow and lowbrow alike.