A Book For Your Must-Read List

On writing, obsessing, and killing your mother.

How do you top a novel narrated by a murdered 14-year-old girl that sold close to 5 million copies and spent 78 weeks on the New York Times best-seller list? Write one about murdering your mother! Surprisingly sunny novelist Alice Sebold, the author of Lucky and The Lovely Bones, heads to the dark side once again with The Almost Moon, one of fall's most anticipated releases. 

MC: Let's start with the obvious: Why did you write a book about killing your mother - or one's mother, rather?

AS: You know, it seems like a natural thing to me. [laughs] We all work hard to understand the dynamic relationship we have with a parent. And in some sense, freedom comes with separation, so this is the ultimate separation. 

MC: Does it make your own mother nervous? 

AS: No, I'm very lucky in that she's a reader. She's been reading poetry and mythology for years, so this doesn't faze her. 

MC: Did you feel the pressure of writing the big follow-up novel to The Lovely Bones?

AS: Nothing comes easily. Lucky didn't and Bones didn't, and this didn't. The extra pressure just added to what is already a difficult process. 

MC: So then the reward is . . .

AS: Being able to work out obsessions from the subconscious and also creating a character that keeps you company while you're doing it. 

MC: The Lovely Bones is being turned into a movie. Are you nervous about what they'll do to it?

AS: I'm not. Maybe I should be! But I think the book has been a large enough phenomenon in my own life, and now Peter Jackson is going to create another piece of art out of it in a medium that I don't have any aspirations to be involved in. 

MC: Your narratives tend to be driven by violence.

AS: I'm gradually working through my obsessions, and maybe, when they're all free and clear, I'll write a comedy. But I'm not there yet.