Author Interview - Bridget Quinn
Author I draw inspiration from: Virginia Woolf. She seems to me the most amazing balance of artist and intellectual, maker and thinker. Her nonfiction and fiction are both perfection.
Favorite place to read a book: The tub. I know it shows careless disregard for the well-being of books, but damn I love a long hot soak with a great story.
Book character I’d like to be stuck in an elevator with: Madame Bovary. I’d tell her that she should create her own novels or operas or paintings, not just consume (or enact) them. I’d beg her to lay off the boys and start writing or painting or doing anything creative that brings her joy. I’d offer to watch her daughter two days a week if she committed the time to creative work. Only two days because I’m also committed to my own work, and daughter.
The moment I knew I wanted to become an author: I think it was always there. I can’t remember a time when the desire to somehow write a book wasn’t my most essential longing. But for a long time it seemed impossible – beyond anything a regular person could accomplish. Then one day in grad school I just thought: no more. I’m going to become a writer and that’s it. And that really was it. I published my first story about two years later. But it was over twenty years before I published my first book.
Hardback, paperback, ebook or audiobook: I’m totally indiscriminate. I had one of the first Kindles and it drove me crazy when people – all the time! – would say: “I’d never have a Kindle because I just love books too much.” The love of books was my precise problem! I lived in terror of being on a trip without enough to read or not being able to get something fast enough that I needed (wanted). Packing was a nightmare, so was storage, so was impatience. Problem solved.
Last year I read eighteen books and listened to seventeen audiobooks (I write these things down; in fact I write most things down). About a third of the books I read were ebooks and I’m guessing it’s a good third split after that between hardcover and paperback.
The last book I read: Women & Power: A Manifesto. By Cambridge classics prof and badass Mary Beard.
Pen & paper or computer: Both are essential. Pen & paper for journaling, note-taking, free writing. Computer for the brass tacks – forming, structuring, editing, taking out and putting back in a dozen times, etc.
Book character I think I’d be best friends with: Alberta Selmer from Cora Sandel’s early 20th-century trilogy of art and womanhood, Alberta and Jacob, Alberta and Freedom, and Alberta Alone.
If I wasn’t an author, I’d be a: Painter.
Favorite decade in fashion history: This is a tricky one for women, I think. There’s fashions I admire, but would I wear them? Never. So for our purposes I’ll assume “favorite” as in “enjoy looking at” and for that let’s say somewhere around 1800-1810 in France & England. Something Jane Austen’s characters might have worn (can I have 1811, too, so as to squeeze in Sense and Sensibility?). I love the white muslin dresses in, for example, Jacques-Louis David’s Madame Récamier (1800) and Marie-Denise Villers’ Portrait of Charlotte du Val d’Ognes (1801).
Place I’d most like to travel: There’s so many places I haven’t been, but I’d love most to go to Patagonia (for the second time) and from there to Antarctica.
My signature drink: Coffee, made by my husband who is the world’s greatest coffee maker.
Favorite artist: Impossible to choose. Artist who has had the most influence on my life: Adélaïde Labille-Guiard.
Number one on my bucket list: I’ve done it: publish a book I’m proud of. Number two was to do an Ironman, and I was able to do that last summer for my 50th birthday. I can die happy. All that’s left is to keep writing until then.
Anything else you'd like to add: Maybe the thing I believe in most is that persistence is everything. That’s true in art, sports, business, relationships, everything I can imagine that’s worth gaining or keeping. Persistence + love is the most powerful combination on the planet. Maybe in the universe.