|photo: Jill Johnson
Julia Heaberlin, a journalist who has worked at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, the Detroit News and the Dallas Morning News, is the author of Lie Still and Playing Dead. She grew up in Texas and lives with her family near Dallas/Fort Worth. Her third novel is Black-Eyed Susans (Ballantine Books, August 11, 2015).
On your nightstand now:
Jane Doe January, the early bound manuscript of a haunting and beautifully written true-crime memoir by novelist Emily Winslow that will be published by William Morrow in 2016. Emily was in college when she was raped by a stranger in her apartment; more than 20 years later, her rapist is trapped by DNA technology and she finally knows his name. I'm completely under the spell of her obsession and path to redemption.
Favorite book when you were a child:
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. Dark, brooding, gothicky, romantic, just what a nerdy small-town Texas girl with knee socks needed for escape one brutally hot summer.
Your top five authors:
I can list the first five who come to mind: John Irving, William Landay, Gillian Flynn (she had me at Sharp Objects), Tana French, Barbara Kingsolver. But I don't always follow authors from book to book; I primarily remember individual books and writing that strikes me: The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach); Savage Beauty (Nancy Milford's gorgeous bio of Edna St. Vincent Millay); The Agony and the Ecstasy (Irving Stone); The Lovely Bones (Alice Sebold); Beautiful Ruins (Jess Walter); The Autobiography of an Execution (David Dow). Just off the top.
Book you've faked reading:
Leo Tolstoy's Anna Karenina. I give it a go once every five years. My worried parents wrapped it up for Christmas when I was in middle school in an effort to drag me away from reading six Harlequin romances a weekend. It didn't work. I got most of my vocabulary from those frustrated romance writers, and I have a good one. Sex makes you remember things. And, yeah, I know Anna has sex, too.
Book you're an evangelist for:
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. God, friendship, fate and A SQUEAKY VOICE STILL LIVING IN CAPITAL LETTERS IN MY HEAD. It is one of the few unapologetic literary novels about believing in God (even though John Irving doesn't).
Book you've bought for the cover:
Hmmm. Probably never. The words are the thing.
Book that changed your life:
If being literal, it would be Stephen King's On Writing. I learned it was okay to sit down to write a novel with a tiny idea and no outline. That's what held me up for years. He's the master.
Favorite line from a book:
"I am doomed to remember a boy with a wrecked voice." --from A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
Which character you most relate to:
Clarice in Silence of the Lambs, the greatest protagonist in all of crime fiction. She is purity, intelligence, vulnerability and ass-kicking feminism. I still miss her.
Book you most want to read again for the first time:
Presumed Innocent by Scott Turow. I really, really couldn't figure it out. That is a most beautiful (and too rare) thing in a thriller.