Interviews


"I tried to think of good reasons [childbirth] might be an underdeveloped area in fiction . . . I think it comes down to the female genitals, and that people are still really uncomfortable with that."
—Listen to the interview on The Brian Lehrer Show


"I'm not even sure I know exactly what's going to happen after the last page . . . When you have a new child, the future is ambiguous. You don't know what's going to happen to that child. The healthiest, most robust child — anything could happen six months from now or a year from now; and children have their own totally unforeseeable personalities and lives that they grow into."
Listen to the interview on NPR's Weekend Edition


"It seems as if childbirth, this absolutely enormous event in the life of billions of people past and present, is seen as a `small' topic. It’s absurd."
Read the interview at The Millions 


"I wanted to show a woman going through the particular trial of childbirth and show what she brought to it, how she rearranged herself to handle it . . . I see the novel as more about what we bring to pain—good or bad—than about what pain does to us."
Read the interview at the Tin House blog


“I realized that boarding school was a particularly extreme environment that encapsulated a lot of things I wanted to talk about when it came to the 1970s.”

Conversation with Jonathan Dee about The Virgins at The Center For Fiction, NYC (author had laryngitis but is still comprehensible!)
Watch the video


"Sex is not a neutral experience. Life is not a neutral experience. When things happen, we interpret them according to the stories we’ve told ourselves about who we are."
Read the interview at The Brooklyn Rail


"The teenagers in The Virgins exist in this very brief window of time when sex wasn’t, or didn’t seem to be, particularly dangerous. All of a sudden it supposedly could be unencumbered and all about joy and pleasure. Except that even when the unnecessary dangers are removed, sex is still connected to deep and complicated human needs and longings and fears. So it’s rarely unencumbered, especially when you’re just starting out."
Read the interview on The Tin House Blog


"You went off to this place that might be hundreds of miles away from your home, and there were no parents there. There were no parents! You're all revved up and hormonal and you're figuring out your identity and you're half crazy—and there are no parents."
Listen to the interview at Booktalk Nation


"`What is love?' is precisely one of the questions the novel asks."
Read the interview at Zola Books


“It’s probably impossible for a human being to live without some sort of sensual life. Human contact and human sensuality are too threatening for Gorse, but he’s able to enjoy touch and sight and smells through his connection to plants.”
Read the interview at The Elegant Variation


“I've always liked writing male characters and from a male point of view. That's partly because when I do so, it's plain to me that the character is a fiction, is not me.”
Read the interview at American Chronicle


“I’d been musing about the yearning for the perfect partner, the perfect reflecting mirror, someone who understands one completely all the time. A wonderful or a chilling ideal, depending on your point of view.”
Read the interview at The Smoking Poet


“Most of us have some piece of ourselves that strives for connection and doesn’t quite know how to make it, or that craves solitude and fears it also. I think those are pretty universal things.”
Watch the interview on SOMA TV’s Books in Action


"Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
"A: When I was in first grade, my teacher took stories we had written in class and stapled them between colored construction-paper covers. Then, unbeknownst to us, she submitted them to a Scholastic competition. I won a ribbon for one of my pieces. I was called down to the principal’s office, told about the prize, and given a candy cane. I was thrilled! I’d always liked to write stories, but after that I had the idea that it was a good gig and something I should do when I grew up."
Read the interview at RenderForest