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Carhart Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River, is a dual citizen of of the United States and Ireland. He lives in Paris with his wife, the photographer Simo Neri, and their two children.

For more information, view Thad Carhart's Web site.



An Interview with Thad Carhart:

1. What was your biggest childhood ambition?
To be an astronaut. When I found that my eyesight was not 20/20, though, that dream ended in a hurry.

2. What is your fondest memory?
The moment when I first laid eyes on my children as newborns.

3. What did you do for fun as a child?
Games of Kick-the-Can and Capture-the-Flag with other neighborhood kids, endless bike riding, building forts in the nearby woods. The most fun in the summer was exploring the creek that ran across my grandparents’ farm: tadpoles, salamanders, minnows and fish, muskrats and raccoons. And of course swimming in it all day long.

4. What was your worst job?
I picked cucumbers one summer when I was in high school. Boring, backbreaking work with hairy vines that cut your hands to shreds. When you got to the end of one row, you’d just turn around and head back up another, from dawn to dusk. At the end of the day the owner’s son would make it a point to bite into an overripe cuke as the newcomers watched. Several hurled the first few times, though I managed to control my nausea. I still can’t eat a cucumber, though, without thinking of that summer.

5. If you had another occupation than the one you are in now, what would it be?

6. What inspired you to write?
The urgent desire to tell my own stories, along with the realization that no one was going to knock on my door one day and say “How about writing all those stories you’ve been sketching out and saving up!”

7. What was your biggest challenge when writing this book?
“Unlearning” the past. That is, imagining my characters in the world of the 1820s, and understanding what their attitudes would be about the events and places they experienced. The great danger is that our own attitudes and values seep in, that things seem far too modern and contemporary. A related problem was finding the right tone, the right “voice” for the narrative: it’s a balancing act between a language that suggests the past without sounding arcane, and a flowing rhythm that invites the reader into the story without becoming too hip or knowing.

8. What do you dislike about writing?
The fact that it requires great blocks of time where you’re essentially isolated socially as you progress on your story. Being “in the groove” has its own satisfactions, it’s true, but when you finally come up for air the world can seem like a very different place.

9. What book are you reading now?
The Road Home by Rose Tremain, one of my favorite writers. Her range is remarkable, from historical fiction (I never would have imagined being engrossed in the court life of Denmark of 1629 until I read her Music & Silence) to contemporary tales. The Road Home is an entirely convincing account of a Polish immigrant trying to make his way in modern London. I’m also re-reading Alan Furst’s Dark Star, a terrific novel about the lead-up to World War II in Europe that evokes, in human terms, the boundless brutality and duplicity that characterized both Hitler and Stalin as their supporters prepared for war. I’ve never understood why Alan Furst isn’t better appreciated. I suppose it’s because he’s often typed as a “spy novelist”, when in fact he’s far deeper than that category would suggest. Vastly underrated, in my opinion.

10. Where is your favorite place to write?
In my office, with a view of the zinc-covered rooftops of Paris out the window when I need to take a break.

11. If your best friend was a celebrity, living or dead, who would it be?
Celebrity is such a modern concept, it’s hard to imagine a lot of models in the past other than those who actually wielded political power. After reading Marguerite Yourcenar’s Mémoires d’Hadrien, I’m tempted to say the Roman emperor Hadrian, though putting up with the brutality of life in antiquity would be a high price to pay. How about George Bernard Shaw?

Copyright © 2009 Thad Carhart, author of Across the Endless River