When his 2-year-old daughter died, Jayson Greene turned to writing to survive his grief, and to Dante’s Inferno for words to describe it.
An ancient saying he learned from his subjects, the Lamalerans, showed the journalist Doug Bock Clark how to tell the story of a tribe with no recorded history.
What the debut writer Kristen Roupenian learned from a masterful tale that dramatizes the horrors of being a young woman
John Wray describes how a wilderness survival guide taught him to face his fears while completing his most challenging book yet.
Nicole Chung explains how an essay about sailing taught her to embrace her fears as she worked up to writing her memoir, All You Can Ever Know.
Gary Shteyngart dissects one of the “most unexpected” lines in fiction and shares how it influenced his latest novel, Lake Success.
The author Laura van den Berg on what inspired her newest novel, The Third Hotel, and how she accesses the part of the mind that fiction comes from
The author R. O. Kwon reflects on the relationship of rhythm to writing and how she stopped obsessing over the first 20 pages of her new novel, The Incendiaries.
The National Book Award finalist Min Jin Lee on how the story of Joseph, and the idea that goodness can come from suffering, influences her work
The Little Fires Everywhere novelist Celeste Ng explains how the surprising structure of the classic children’s book informs her work.
The Sour Heart author discusses Roberto Bolaño’s “Dance Card,” humanizing minor characters through irreverence, and homing in on history’s footnotes.
The novelist Victor LaValle on how dark material hits hardest when it’s balanced out with wonder
Highlights from 12 months of interviews with writers about their craft and the authors they love
Franz Kafka’s work taught the writer Jonathan Lethem about how to incorporate chaos into narratives.
The novelist Nell Zink discusses the psalm that inspired her, and what she learned about the solitary artistic process from her Catholic upbringing.
The poem “Wild Nights! - Wild Nights!” taught the novelist Emma Donoghue about sexuality, ambiguity, and intimacy.
The novelist and poet Alice Mattison discusses finding inspiration in the unconventional short stories of Grace Paley.
For the writer Mark Haddon, Miles Davis’s seminal jazz album Bitches Brew is a reminder of the beauty and power of challenging works.
Despite critics’ dismissal of activist-minded fiction, the author Lydia Millet believes that Dr. Seuss’s classic children’s book is powerful because of its message, not in spite of it.
The writer Kathryn Harrison believes that words flow best when the opaque, unknowable aspects of the mind take over.