Your new memoir about growing up in the South, Under Magnolia, describes Georgia so vividly. Have you always had such an acute sense of place, or do you feel like living abroad has given you a deeper insight into viewing the world around you?
Living in Italy reminded me so much of small town life in Georgia in the era I grew up. The hospitality, the generosity, the tolerance for eccentric characters--so many things. But, really, the landscape of my childhood was the big thing. I always felt that the place I came from was powerful and that the weather, sunsets, sky, streams, storms all had some mysterious function to shape those of us who lived there. All southern writers sense this, I think. Hard to explain, but flying in, I see that red clay below and I always think--I am home.