3Ms in Blue Hill, Maine

Last Thursday, two wonderful writers - Heidi Julavits and Ayelet Waldman - joined me to talk about mentors, muses and influences, at the Blue Hill LIbrary, in Blue Hill, Maine. In the audience were Bill Henderson, editor and publisher of Pushcart Prizes, which awarded prizes to two of our essays, and novelist Rafael Yglesias, author of the acclaimed A Happy Marriage.

Heidi and Ayelet told stories of their own literary influences (Heidi: a "very, very, very, very famous writer" who read the ms. of her novel and excoriated it and helped her in the process; Ayelet: Tobias Wolff, who said she didn't need to attend graduate school in writing and that her first non-mystery novel was "great"), and both had fascinating comments on the effect of motherhood on writing (profound and positive), and the clued us in on how their writer spouses (Ben Marcus, Michael Chabon) influence their work (ditto).

Thanks to all for a terrific evening. One of the book's pleasures is that the conversation about influence keeps going and growing.