Q&A: Bridget Kinsella

Bridget Kinsella, on her memoir, Visiting Life

After her divorce, Publishers Weekly editor Bridget Kinsella found solace-and love-in an unexpected place: California's Pelican Bay State Prison, with Rory, an inmate she was trying to help get published. Now, four years later, she's sharing her story in Visiting Life.

MC: Did falling in love with a prisoner surprise you?

KINSELLA: I was the cheerleader, yearbook editor, top of my class...The stereotype is that these women are uneducated, lonely, and desperate. I was lonely, but I was not desperate, and I'm not stupid.

MC: How did you get past the fact that he killed someone?

KINSELLA: Rory did the worst thing possible. It was very important for me to know the details of his crime. But he's not the drug-induced, wounded teenager he once was. He's worked really hard to understand why he is there and what's important in life.

MC: And he's helped you through your pain . . .

KINSELLA: I had a great job and life, but I was profoundly unhappy. No one else could see it, but Rory saw my pain on my first visit. He taught me hope from a hopeless place.

MC: How did your friends and family react?

KINSELLA: They've been nothing but supportive. My boss said, "Wow, if I don't check in with you, I never know what you're up to."

MC: Are you and Rory still together?

KINSELLA: For two years, Rory was a safe place for me. But he has a life sentence, so I had to force myself to pull away emotionally. I do continue to visit him, though.

MC: What made you want to write this book?

KINSELLA: [laughing] Writing is the cheapest form of therapy.