Let’s talk for a second about that sexual candor in your work. How have you arrived at such intrepid portrayals?
Long research, sleepless nights. I want to offer my characters some sexual risk taking, a reflection of the way I once lived my life. I’ve learned so much about others, in and out of bed. Tennessee Williams swore he’d never created a character to whom he was not sexually attracted. I always urged my students to let their characters have erotic existences on the page. We put the poor things through such tortures, why not let them score a few Fridays and Saturdays per annum? What a protagonist eats and wears and how he decorates his rooms and treats his parents—yeah, all that’s important. But what she wants sexually and what she’ll risk to get some of it on a given weekend—that’s a fast, amazing way to show her true hidden identity. I’m pleased to see young novelists now risking far more sexual honesty. What subject is more mystical and entertaining? Most sexual exchanges are far more awkward, and therefore more endearing, than what you find online. Ordinary folks’ groping attempts I usually find far sexier than a couple of tanned models going at it in Malibu. A writer, a real writer, must be fully committed to those people somehow created on his pages. He cannot stand apart from them, cannot cartoon or disdain them. They are not quite villains, they are hardly saints. They are all citizens different from each other, each with a peculiar mission, varying sets of merits and flaws. They are partial talents striving toward something, but what? For sure, it’s a fascinating exercise, creating others and then trying to be responsible both for and to them.