3-minute interview with Richard Russo

The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist is in The City to promote his new novel, “Bridge of Sighs,” released last month. His book “Empire Falls,” published in 2001, won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Russo, who holds a Ph.D., pens short stories and screenplays as well. Russo will be a guest on radio shows this weekend and host a conversation lecture with Roy Eisenhardt at the Herbst Theatre on Monday at 8 p.m. in an event for all ages.

What do people say to you when you tell them you’ve won a Pulitzer? Lots of things. A friend e-mailed and said, ‘Just heard you won the Wurlitzer prize, but what I’d like to know is what do people who make organs have to do with literature?’

How do you come up with ideas for your novels? Sometimes I’ll read a story that will remind me of another story. Lots oftimes ideas will just lay dormant for a long time and suddenly they’ll be right there.

What’s your favorite part about being an author? I get to live a lot of different lives. This new novel is about destinies and the great thing about being a novelist is that you get to live other people’s lives. It’s about the most freedom you can have, I think.

What would you recommend to writers just starting out? Three things: Read just as voraciously as you can; never stop reading; and the better books you read, the better you’ll be. When you stop reading, start writing. You need to write every single day. Don’t just wait for inspiration. Then after you’ve started writing, try the best you can to develop the world’s thickest skin.

What do you hope readers get out of the experience of reading one of your novels? A young woman recently came up to me and just finished “Bridge of Sighs” and she said it made her want to be a better person.

mrosenberg@examiner.com


Check out more 3-minute interviews from our San Francisco newsroom.

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