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new england writers at work

Reading others’ works energizes Julia Glass

Julia Glass lives and writes in Marblehead.

Photos By Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Julia Glass lives and writes in Marblehead.

It’s been more than a decade since Julia Glass won the National Book Award for her sparkling debut, “Three Junes.” Next week, she’ll publish her fifth novel, “And the Dark, Sacred Night,” a book that marks the return of “Three Junes” characters Lucinda Burns and Fenno McCleod. Glass lives and writes in Marblehead.

ANTI-SOCIAL MEDIA: I continue to shun, in a very curmudgeonly fashion, things like Twitter and Facebook. There was a funny piece in the Times about how boring it is to hear people go on and on about how the world is going to go to rack and ruin because of Twitter and our children don’t really communicate, so I resolved to stop complaining about social media. But I feel like I’m at the maximum distraction capacity online.

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PET PEEVE: I used to work pretty religiously in the third-floor office, but we got puppies, and I started working in the kitchen to keep them company when they got trained, and then I just got into a habit: In the mornings, I see the kids off to school; I have my coffee and my yogurt; and I roam around with my computer . . . [But] sometimes I just don’t get up from the kitchen table. I start with e-mail, and then I just go into whatever it is that I’m working on, and I look up, and it’s 11:30, and I’m still in my pajamas with cold coffee.

FICTIONAL MONOGAMY: I’m a fictional monogamist — I can only work on one thing at a time — but each novel starts growing in my head when I’m about midway through the previous novel.

Lane Turner/Globe Staff

Glass keeps ideas stashed in little notebooks.

DAYDREAM BELIEVER: I do not understand how people can claim not to read when they’re writing, because I’m always writing. For me, the lion’s share of writing is daydreaming; it mostly occurs inside my brain when I’m out shopping, walking the dogs, stuck in traffic . . . People are shocked when I tell them how little time I spend with my fingers on the keyboard. Sometimes I can’t actually find a sustained period in which to add words to my text. Then I’ll go in sprints — I’ll write five days a week for a few weeks, then nothing for a month. It’s not at all a routine.

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DICKENS, YOU SAY: I would really like to find time to go back to reading 19th century fiction. I have sometimes been compared to 19th century novelists, and I consider myself a traditional writer in that way. But the truth is, I haven’t read all that much of that [kind of] fiction. I wasn’t an English major in college. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve never read the greatest Dickens novels. I would really like to clear my readerly decks to do that as I’m writing this next novel that I’m embarking on.

IN IT TO WIN IT: I love it when I start a book that is so good that all I want to do is get back to my own writing, in a competitive way. Really good reading accelerates and feeds the writing for me . . . I was reading [Jess Walter’s] “Beautiful Ruins” as I finished “And the Dark Sacred Night,” and it gave me energy. It made me jealous.

CALL ME ISHMAEL: My readers often tell me that what they admire about my books is my ability to write from so many points of view. My challenge to myself is whether I’ll ever be able to write a novel just from one point of view. It seems impossible.

Eugenia Williamson is a writer and editor living in Somerville. She can be reached eugenia.williamson@gmail.com.
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