Fin and Lady (Schine)

Author Bio
Where—Bridgeport, Connecticut, USA
Education—B.A., Barnard College
Currently—lives in New York City and Venice, California

In her own words:
I tried to be a medieval historian, but I have no memory for facts, dates, or abstract ideas, so that was a bust. When I came back to New York, I tried to be a buyer at Bloomingdale's because I loved shopping. I had an interview, but they never called me back. I really had no choice. I had to be a writer. I could not get a job.

After doing some bits of freelance journalism at the Village Voice, I did finally get a job as a copy editor at Newsweek. My grammar was good, but I can't spell, so it was a challenge. My boss was very nice and indulgent, though, and I wrote Alice in Bed on scraps of paper during slow hours. I didn't have a regular job again until I wrote The Love Letter.

The Love Letter was about a bookseller, so I worked in a bookstore in an attempt to understand the art of bookselling. I discovered that selling books is an interdisciplinary activity, the disciplines being: literary critic, psychologist, and stevedore. I was fired immediately for total incompetence and chaos and told to sit in the back and observe, no talking, no touching.

I dislike humidity and vomit, I guess. My interests and hobbies are too expensive or too physically taxing to actually pursue. I like to take naps. I go shopping to unwind. I love to shop. Even if it's for Q-Tips or Post-Its.

When asked what book most influenced her career as a writer, here is her response:

When I left graduate school after a gruesome attempt to become a medieval historian, I crawled into bed and read Our Mutual Friend. It was, unbelievably, the first Dickens I had ever read, the first novel I'd read in years, and one of the first books not in or translated from Latin I'd read in years. It was a startling, liberating, exhilarating moment that reminded me what English can be, what characters can be, what humor can be. I of course read all of Dickens after that and then started on Trollope, who taught me the invaluable lesson that character is fate, and that fate is not always a neat narrative arc.

But I always hesitate to claim the influence of any author: It seems presumptuous. I want to be influenced by Dickens and Trollope. I long to be influenced by Jane Austen, too, and Barbara Pym and Alice Munro. I aspire to be influenced by Randall Jarrell's brilliant novel, Pictures from an Institution. And I read Muriel Spark when I feel myself becoming soft and sentimental, as a kind of tonic. (From a 2003 Barnes & Noble interview.)

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