Guest Book (Blake) - Author Bio

Author Bio
Birth—December 10, 1960
Where—New York, New York, USA
Education—B.A., Yale University; M.A., San Francisco State University; Ph.D., New York University
Currently—lives in Washington, DC

Born in New York City, Sarah Blake has a BA from Yale University and a PhD in English and American Literature from New York University. She is the author of a chapbook of poems, Full Turn (Pennywhistle Press, 1989); an artist book, Runaway Girls (Hand Made Press, 1997) in collaboration with the artist, Robin Kahn; and two novels. Her first novel, Grange House, (Picador, 2000) was named a "New and Noteworthy" paperback in August, 2001 by the New York Times. Her second novel, The Postmistress, was by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam in February 2010. Her essays and reviews have appeared in Good Housekeeping, US News and World Reports, the Chicago Tribune and elsewhere.

Sarah taught high school and college English for many years in Colorado and New York. She has taught fiction workshops at the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown, MA, The Writer's Center in Bethesda, MD, the University of Maryland, and George Washington University. She lives in Washington, DC.

From a 2009 Barnes & Noble interview:

• In the three summers while I was in college, I tried out three different lives in my summer jobs—full immersion: intern at an Art Auction house in NYC; kitchen girl at a dude ranch in Montana; jewelry store clerk in a tiny shop on an island off the coast of Sicily. I took the immersion a little too close to heart for my mother—after the second summer, in my incarnation as a cowgirl, I announced I was thinking about quitting college, marrying the cowboy I was dating there, and becoming a rancher. How could I not? The cowboy left me love letters hidden in the horn of my saddle.

• I am a big gardener and re-arranger of furniture. The two are inextricably related, in my mind, to my writing. When I can't figure out a scene, or when I'm stumped as to why a character makes a certain choice—I go out and dig, and plot and plan and rearrange. In the winter, handily, there are similar chances to plot and plan and rearrange inside the house. When I get an idea in my head about how a room might look, I am completely obsessed with trying it out, right then and there. One night I was certain that the problem with our living room was the rug and that the answer to the problem lay upstairs on the third floor in my son's bedroom. Never mind that it was eleven o'clock and he was fast asleep, and the bed he slept in lay squarely on top of the rug. I jimmied and lifted and snatched the rug out from under the sleeping child, hauled it down the three flights, and then lifted and lowered and hauled the furniture around down in the living room. By the time my husband came home at midnight, I had just finished rolling the rug out in the living room. We both stared at it. It was completely and totally wrong.

• I come from a big family of singers—around the campfire, in a cappella groups in school, in the back of the car—and I love to sing, love to hear singing. Similarly, I grew up listening to grown ups talking at dinner, extending dinner late into the night, all of us ranged around a big table in the house my grandparents bought in the "30s in Maine. My idea of happiness is just that: many faces, many generations, much discussion, candles and talk while the dishes shift in the sink.

• I love fog. I love rain. I love the moment right after a play ends—the second of pure silence when everyone in the theatre, actors and audience, are joined—before the clapping starts and the actors bow and we pick up our lives again.

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

There are all the books I read curled up on a couch in summer childhood—all the "Little House" books, The Secret Garden, The Little Princess, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, A Wrinkle in Time—that gave me worlds right there where I sat, while the hot wind of New Haven drifted over the window sill. That feeling of reading worlds, of diving down below the surface of my own life made me a reader, an irredeemable bookworm.

But it was To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf that made me want to become a writer. I read her sentences—all the beauty and the longing in them—and I simply wanted to write them myself. The way her characters thought and moved, the light and sound she captured of a summer day—all this I wanted to make mine. She showed me how to capture what she calls "moments of being"—clear, resonant times in our lives of pure beauty, caught just as they vanish.

(Author bio and interview from Barnes & Noble.)

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