Do you have any special rituals, or is writing something you just have to hunker down and do?
Nothing out of the ordinary. The usual stimulants—coffee or tea. And at the end of a book, when I’m extremely exhausted, mentally fatigued, I sometimes sneak off into the yard and smoke a cigar, maybe six or seven times per book. That’s a bad habit I picked up when I lived in Berlin.
Cal in Middlesex smokes cigars.
That’s why that got in there. Occasionally, instead of having a Red Bull, as a twenty-year-old might, I resort to the Thomas Mann method, the Maria Mancinis, but not very often. Cigars are the perfect literary drug. I understand why Mann, Freud, and so many durable people smoked cigars. It really focuses the mind. But I didn’t do it much with The Marriage Plot. I was in healthy, nonsmoking America and stayed mainly clean. — from The Paris Review