Q&A : Donna Kauffman
What brings you the greatest joy?
That list is so long, I don’t even know where to begin. My family, my
children would top that list. Beyond that, the thrill knowing I get to do
what I’m most passionate about and have somehow managed to find
a way to make a living at it. A recent move to the mountains has
begun a new phase of life and is turning out to be one of the most
joyful times of my life as well. It’s been a long time goal of mine and
now that my two sons are grown and making their own way, I finally
up and did it. And it’s been every bit as fabulous as I thought it would
be, and then some. My family loves coming to visit, to hike, paddle
the river, and take in the beauty, and it’s a great place for
entertaining, so it’s been win-win all around. Now, if they would just
get started on making me a few grandbabies…
What makes you smile?
See above. :)
What quote do you live by?
It’s not a quote so much as my personal motivational thought and one
I absolutely live by. “Be hopeful. Nothing stays the same. So it can
always get better. Work towards better."
What is your greatest indulgence?
In my new mountain retreat, I have the spa tub to end all spa tubs. I
think I could live in that spa tub if only someone would regularly feed
me. And, you know, write my books, water my plants, feed the birds,
weed the garden…
What makes you laugh?
Life. Myself. (Far too often. I’m all Lucy, no Ethel.) Laughter is the
chicken soup for my soul.
What is most satisfying?
Completing things. Whether it be writing a book or getting the garden
mulched, finishing a cross-stitch project, or finally organizing my junk
drawer(s)—again—it’s immensely satisfying getting to The End of a
What is on your nightstand?
Currently, a book on miniature landscaping. It’s my latest passion (indulgence, new learning curve, and all around reason to procrastinate completing more important tasks…) I’ve started taking classes and experimenting with both indoor and outdoor tiny landscapes (think fairy gardens) am loving every tiny pathway and miniature fern and flower. It’s my version of zen gardening. (And weeding is so much easier!)
Who would you most like to have dinner with?
Gosh, what a tantalizing question. So hard to choose. If she were still
alive, hands down, Katherine Hepburn. Long an idol of mine. But just
for the fun and most assuredly fabulous conversation and laughter, I’ll
take Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow. I know that’s two, but
seriously, imagine the potential depth and breadth of that dinner
conversation. And the nosh. I’m a night owl, so I have dinner with
them most nights anyway, so it’s only right they actually show up in
person at least once, right?
What author had a profound effect on you?
Nora Roberts, as a writer, and as a friend and mentor. Her early
works inspired me as a reader and a writer, as they still do today. I
was fortunate enough to join a writer’s group in the early years of my
career that she was also belonged to, and her friendship and
encouragement, as well as her work ethic, really pushed me to
continue to strive toward the goals I’d set for myself. I’ve now been
a published author for over twenty years, and I get to pursue my
passion every day. She’s a big part of why that is so.
What do you wish you'd known when you were younger?
Not to sweat the small stuff so much. And what really is the small
stuff. To think bigger picture when deciding what to stress over, and
what, ultimately, is really not worth the time and energy.
What is the best compliment you ever received?
As a writer, it was the first time I got a letter from a reader who
confessed she’d stayed up all night because she couldn’t put my book
down, she just had to find out how it ended. I am that reader when it
comes to my favorite authors. To know I’d succeeded in being that
author for someone else? Thrilling!
What surprises people most, once they get to know you?
That I really do spend the greater part of my days all by myself (writing) and not talking. :)
Do you believe in writer's block?
No. This harkens back to The Nora Effect. I hear her every time I think
I can’t get another page out of me. "This is your job. Plant your
backside in the chair and make things happen. Even if those things get
revised, rethought, or completely scratched later, you put words on
the page. That’s the only way you can continue figuring out what
happens next.” She’s the next best thing to having a nun with a ruler
standing over you while you work.
What piece of advice would you give aspiring writers?
If this is your passion, if you have “voices in your head” that won’t shut up, the ones telling you a story, then don’t give up. Write it down, get it out, and then keep working on it. Work on telling that story, and all the ones that come after it. Because the stories don’t stop. That’s how you’re wired. You’re a writer. So write.