Books

Singer-songwriter and newly minted novelist

Suzzy Roche: Singer-songwriter and newly minted novelist

Suzzy Roche reads every day before she writes. It gives her confidence, she says.

Suzzy Roche, the youngest of the singing-songwriting sister trio, The Roches, jokes that she’s found yet another way to make little or no money - writing a novel. With her just published book, “Wayward Saints,’’ the musician adds author to her resume.

BOOKS: How would you describe yourself as a reader?

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ROCHE: I am very diversified. I’m not formally educated. I’ve tried to educate myself through the years.

BOOKS: What do you mean you aren’t formally educated?

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ROCHE: I didn’t even get a degree until recently, and it was in acting. When I was young, I left college after 3 1/2 years to sing, then my work life took over. I was on the road constantly. By the time I picked my head up I was in my 30s. There are a lot of big gaps in my education.

BOOKS: Which gaps gnaw at you?

ROCHE: I haven’t read the things that people who have English degrees have read. A lot of times I’ll find myself in a conversation about a book where everybody else has read it but I haven’t. That bothers me. Then I try to read the book, but there’s so many of them.

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BOOKS: Do you sometimes nod along like you have read a book?

ROCHE: I’ve done that. Even with books I haven’t heard of.

BOOKS: What are some of your favorite novels?

ROCHE: “Lonesome Dove’’ by Larry McMurtry. The characters are for the most part uneducated in a formal way. They are always making sense out of the world by their own wits, which I find so compelling. Also “A Burnt-Out Case’’ by Graham Greene. That would be like a desert-island kind of book. I love “Disgrace’’ by J.M. Coetzee, a heartbreaking book.

BOOKS: When do you read the most?

ROCHE: I will read something every day before I write. It gives me a feeling that it’s possible to write. Right now, I’m reading “Await Your Reply’’ by Dan Chaon. It’s so elegantly written, I find it calms me down.

When I wrote my novel I was reading Meg Wolitzer’s book, “The Uncoupling.’’ She sent it to me in bits and pieces as she was writing it. She’s done that with the last few books she’s written, which is why I feel like I went to the University of Meg Wolitzer.

We met because somebody from public radio put us together to write songs based on famous novels. We wrote a whole bunch of funny songs about books like “Ulysses’’ by James Joyce.

BOOKS: Do you read poetry?

ROCHE: I love poetry. I’m currently reading Kathleen Ossip’s new book called “The Cold War,’’ and then one of the people I always go back to is Anne Sexton. Loving poetry comes from my parents. Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reciting poems and becoming uncharacteristically emotional. My mother wrote poetry. My father loved A.E. Housman. When I think of my father reciting I could just cry right now.

BOOKS: What are you reading next?

ROCHE: “Ten Thousand Saints’’ by Eleanor Henderson. I like to have a couple of books going at the same time, so also “The Missionary and The Brute’’ by John Kenworthy. It’s a self-published novel by a guy who builds schools in Tanzania. He’s written such a page-turner.

BOOKS: What’s your ideal setup for reading?

ROCHE: On my couch, when the sun is going down at the end of all my work. I like to have an hour of just sitting with my black mutt and a book, which is weird now that I think of it. I’d totally forgotten about this, but my mother used to make us kids sit in the living room for an hour right at 5 p.m. as she made dinner and called it “reading hour.’’ We would bitterly complain. And here I am still doing that.

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