Berkeley grad behind Anywhere but Here and, more recently, My Hollywood, biological sister of Steve Jobs, and namesake of Homer Simpson's mom (Mona was married to Simpsons writer Richard Appel). She appears 5 pm Saturday on the Powell's stage.

What are your favorite themes to write about?

I like to write about the prices attached to certain kinds of love, the practical underpinnings to exalted feelings.

Name three books on your nightstand or shelf right now.

Villette, Wolf Hall and Blame. Yasunari Kawabata's Palm-of-the-Hand Stories.

What's your personal writing ritual?

Coffee. A MacBook Air. And as few plans as possible lowering the ceiling of the day.

The most beautiful word in the English language is:


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

War and Peace is such a great and deceptively clear novel, it makes you feel as if you could have written it.

Your cure for writer's block:

Having children. Getting old will probably do it too. Any intimacy with mortality tends to solve these problems.

A dead person you'd like to meet (they'd be alive during the meeting):

Henry James.

What was your favorite book as a kid?

Nancy Drew