Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? I think of each of my nonfiction books as an inquiry so I am learning and trying to answer my own questions as I write. That's one reason writing is important to me. In this book I am trying to understand what happened in another country I love, Ivory Coast, which, despite a reputation for stability and a culture of tolerance, was split apart by divisive politics. I wanted to know how this turbulent political era affected people I had first known as children forty years ago. But I am also always thinking of my American readers and the power of reading. Reading takes us into worlds we might not otherwise be able to visit, worlds we can learn from. Ivorians have already suffered the consequences of divisive politics so we can learn from their experiences. We can also learn from their tradition of welcoming guests and their commitment to hospitality. Once we visit a new place through reading, we often come to understand different ways of thinking and feel empathy for those we meet. That seems especially important right now, to write in order to generate curiosity and connection.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? Going for a walk helps.

What is your favorite time to write? Definitely morning. Or after a long walk.

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? I was fretting about how slowly I write and a friend of mine told me, "When someone is reading your book, they won't be thinking about how long it took." So true!

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? Hearing from readers. During the pandemic I was touched to receive an email from someone who carried my first book (paperback) up a mountain and read it in a tent. He wrote to say it was worth the weight.

Carol Spindel's I Give You Half the Road is out February 22 with University of Wisconsin Press.