You don't go to the library and walk along and pick out a topic. You are riding the bus, or shopping at Safeway, and all of a sudden the idea comes to you.
I've never been comfortable with the idea of using family and friends in stories. Which is why it takes me longer than something else. Because you make them up out of nothing. Doing that is harder.
I have said with as much sincerity as I can muster that if I were thrown into a dungeon with a sentence of one hundred years, with my only company being an illiterate guard who came twice a day with meals but who never spoke, I would still write - on coarse toilet paper in the dark if I could spare it.
In the summer of 1964, my sister and I went to South Ballston, Virginia, to stay with my aunt and her kids. They passed the civil rights bill that summer; my cousins were so happy because now they could swim in the pool.
When you grow up with a mother who has to wash dishes and clean hotel rooms, you know the importance of having a job, and you can't be without a job for any length of time, or you will be without anything.