Lydia Millet

How did you become a writer?

I was going to be an opera singer, but realized I didn't have the stomach for it. And written language was what I grew up in, before music. I love music, but it wasn't my primary element -- we rarely listened to music around the house in my childhood, but we always read. I read every day, a lot. Books were just the way I knew the world. And the souls of others.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

I had a teacher, Daphne Athas, who was a lovely mentor in college and made me feel I could actually write for a living. She still makes me feel that way. Then Randolph Heard, my boyfriend for years and still a close friend now, introduced me to a lot of the books that changed how I read, and how I saw what writing I wanted to do, in the years soon after college. So I'd have to say Daphne and Randolph were my biggest influences.

When and where do you write?

These days whenever I can, small snatches of time around my day job and a little longer on the weekends. When my children are grown, maybe I'll write late into the night again. I can only hope. 

What are you working on now?

A novel called A Children's Bible. About climate change and a gang of teenagers who don't like their parents. I have a story collection coming out before that though, next May. 2018. It's called Fight No More.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?

No, but I've suffered from doing writing I stopped loving and had to throw away.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

To read a lot. 

What’s your advice to new writers?

See above.

Lydia Millet is the author of 11 books of literary fiction, most recently Sweet Lamb of Heaven (2016), a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction. Her previous books include Mermaids in Paradise (2014); the novel Magnificence (2012), about loss and extinction, which was a finalist for the National Book Critics' Circle and Los Angeles Times book awards; a story collection called Love in Infant Monkeys (2010), a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize; and the novel My Happy Life (2002), which won a PEN-USA fiction award. She received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2012 and lives in the Arizona desert, where she also works at the nonprofit Center for Biological Diversity.