Interview with Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

October, 2009
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Quick Start

SS: How would you describe your life in only 8 words?

PN: Fulfilling, intense, consuming, organized, poignant, messy, worrisome, spiritual

SS: What is your motto or maxim?

PN: Don't sweat the little stuff

What Readers want to know...

SS: How would you describe perfect happiness?

PN: Contentment with what I am and what I have now, forgiveness of past mistakes, and optimism about the future.

SS: What’s your greatest fear?

PN: That tragedy might happen to those I love.

SS: If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would you choose to be?

PN: Exactly where I am now, with a few side trips to Greece and Ireland.

SS: With whom in history do you most identify?

PN: Thomas Jefferson

SS: Which living person do you most admire?

PN: Barack Obama

SS: What are your most overused words or phrases?

PN: "So," "very," "also" and "however."

SS: What do you regret most?

PN: thoughtless remarks that hurt another person

SS: What is your greatest achievement?

PN: Raising two great sons

SS: What’s your greatest flaw?

PN: Worry

SS: What’s your best quality?

PN: Efficiency

SS: If you could be any person or thing, who or what would it be?

PN: Never a thing! I'm pretty content with me.

SS: What trait is most noticeable about you?

PN: I'm organized. I smile a lot.

SS: Who is your favorite fictional hero?

PN: Huckleberry Finn

SS: Who is your favorite fictional villain?

PN: Judd Travers

SS: If you could meet any historical character, who would it be and what would you say to him or her?

PN: I would love to sit down with the real-life African-American teenagers who integrated that Alabama high school in the 60's. I'd like to ask them where they got their courage, how they were able to study, how they survived the taunts and ridicule, and whether any of their white classmates supported them and offered friendship.

SS: What is your biggest pet peeve?

PN: People who yak on cell phones on the train.

SS: What is your favorite occupation, when you’re not writing?

PN: Baking bread

SS: What’s your fantasy profession?

PN: Professional singer

SS: If you could acquire any talent, what would it be?

PN: Scuba diving

SS: What 3 personal qualities are most important to you?

PN: Kindness, tolerance, sense of humor

SS: If you could eat only one thing for the rest of your days, what would it be?

PN: Pizza

SS: What are your 5 favorite songs?

PN: The Man I Love, I'll Be Seeing You, Follow the Drinking Gourd, "All That Jazz," "Summertime"

Questions About Books and Writing

SS: Who are your favorite authors?

PN: I like the Southern writers who tend to write about ordinary people in extraordinary situations. I especially enjoy books by Eudora Welty, Anne Tyler, and Flannery O'Connor. But I also love Larry McMurtry, T.C. Boyle, Eric Larson, and those wonderful #1 Ladies Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith.

SS: What are your 5 favorite books of all time?

PN: This is an impossible task, but five that come to mind are Lonesome Dove, War and Peace, Main Street, Huckleberry Finn, and Madame Bovary.

SS: Is there a book you love to reread?

PN: There are so many books I've yet to read that I rarely reread one.

SS: Do you have one sentence of advice for new writers?

PN: Write the story that only you can write, a story to which you can contribute something unique that is totally you, no matter how ordinary or mundane.

SS: What comment do you hear most often from your readers?

PN: Your stories are so real, and you write about things nobody else talks about.

General Questions

SS: What is your birthdate?

PN: 1/4

SS: What were your previous occupations?

PN: Clinical secretary, teacher, editorial assistant

SS: What was/is your favorite job?

PN: Writing my own books

SS: Where did you go to high school and/or college?

PN: Joliet (Illinois) Township High School, Joliet Junior College, American University (D.C.)

SS: Name of your favorite composer or music artist?

PN: Mozart, Bach, and Gershwin

SS: What is your favorite television show?

PN: Sopranos

SS: What is your favorite movie?

PN: In the Heat of the Night

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