You really should read: The Glass Castle

There is life after the gossip column! Who knew. MSNBC reporter Walls' touching memoir, The Glass Castle, outlined a childhood full of adventures and unique hardships. The novel was a New York Times bestseller for three years, inspiring millions with tales of how she and her three siblings got by, despite impossibly eccentric parenting. A non-complaining voice in a world full of gratuitous biographies, Walls has both the tale to tell, and skill to do it justice. 4 pm Saturday, Oct. 10. Powell's Books Stage.

What's your personal writing ritual?

I'm fast but sloppy. I write—at a computer—all day, then rewrite and rewrite and then rewrite some more.

What are your favorite themes to write about?

I love stories about folks rising above adversity.

The most beautiful word in the English language is:

Completely depends on the words that precede it.

What authors made you want to pick up a pen in the first place, and why?

I read A Tree Grows in Brooklyn when I was 10 years old and was blown away by how much I connected with a character I had met only through written words.

Fight Club time: If you could fight one author (or critic), who would it be and why?

I've hung up my fighting gloves.

Name a book you think is highly overrated. Be honest.

Books are very personal, like love, and what resonates with one person may not resonate with another. A book isn't overrated if someone loves it. If I don't love the book, who am I to say that others shouldn't? It's just not to my tastes. I hope that doesn't sound Pollyanna-ish, but it's truly the way I feel.

Dream project:

To live in a house with indoor plumbing surrounded by my husband and a bunch of critters while I make a living writing. Oh, wait, I'm doing that.

Most recent nightmare:

I recently had a funny nightmare that the words on a page kept coming alive and rearranging themselves.

Your cure for writer's block:

I've never had writer's block. That's one of the bonuses of writing stories based on fact. You never have to struggle to decide what happens next.

Pessimistic question: Will you keep writing even after people stop reading?

Won't happen. People not reading, I mean. I have no idea if I'll write again.

Cautiously optimistic question: Obama? Discuss.

Barack Obama is a lot smarter than I am so I've stopped second guessing him.

Share one thing you've had to change in your everyday life thanks to our current recession.

I've always been one of those weirdos who reuses teabags and saves pickle jars because they might come in handy some day, so this is old hat for me.

Please paste a short paragraph from a story you're currently working on:

I'm not writing at the moment. But here's the first sentence from my new book: "Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did."