Ann Napolitano’s latest book, Dear Edward, follows a young boy who is the sole survivor of a plane crash, as he deals with the repercussions of the disaster. It has received widespread critical acclaim and debuted at #2 on the New York Times Bestseller List. She is also the author of the novels A Good Hard Look and Within Arm’s Reach.
What would you most like people to know about your latest book, Dear Edward?
It’s about kind people maneuvering a terrible situation.
What inspired you to write a novel featuring such heavy themes?
It was inspired by a real plane crash in 2010, in which only a nine-year-old Dutch boy survived. I was obsessed with that news story, and terribly worried about the little boy. I wrote a novel, and a set of circumstances, in which a little boy—or any child in his situation—could eventually rebuild a life.
What are you working on now?
I’m taking notes on a new novel. There’s not much I can say about it, at this stage.
What are you reading?
Right now I’m reading The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern. I just finished Ruth Ozeki’s A Tale For The Time Being, which I LOVED.
What genres do you especially enjoy reading? Which do you avoid?
Literary fiction and graphic novels are my favorite genres. I suppose I avoid science fiction. I try to read good books though, without attention to genre.
Where is your favorite place to write?
On a couch, with an oat milk latte by my side, using the app Brain.fm to play focus-inducing music into my headphones.
Which of your characters do you think you could be good friends with?
Several of them, in Dear Edward. I love most of them. Shay, Edward and Principal Arundhi top the list. I’d also love to hang out with Florida.
When you’re writing, do you have everything carefully plotted out or do you just let the material come to you?
I spent the first year plotting and taking notes, before I allowed myself to start writing the story. With Dear Edward, I’d say about 50% was plotted, and the rest I had to figure out as I went along.
Do you rewrite passages over and over or are you generally pretty happy with what you’ve written after the first time or two?
It took me eight years to write Dear Edward; I re-write incessantly. My first drafts are terrible.
What is your favorite thing about being an author? Your least favorite?
My favorite thing is writing, and having a fictional universe in my head at all times. My least favorite thing about being an author is the lack of health insurance.
You are also an associate editor at One Story, a literary magazine that publishes a single story per month. What do you look for in a great story?
Clean language, and a beautifully told story that feels complete. The best stories make the hairs on my arms stand up when I read them; when that happens, I’m thrilled.
Did you visit the library a lot growing up? Do you now?
My hometown library in Ramsey, NJ, was my favorite place in the world while I was growing up. I love libraries, then and now.
You’ve spent the last 2 summers here in Avalon, what drew you to our town? And do you have any favorite area attractions?
My parents rented a house there. My favorite thing was to go running in the morning to the high point in the middle of the bridge that connects Avalon to Sea Isle. I would stare out at the ocean, all lit up with the sun, and then run back to the house.