Why is writing important to you and why do you think it's an important medium for the world? I've been on a George Saunders kick (again) and came across something he said in a LitHub interview, that writing is "communication of the urgent." Sometimes I don't know what is actually most urgent to me until I'm writing about it. That's why it's important to me: I need it in order to think. Why is writing important for the world? That's a trickier topic. Non-literate peoples have oral traditions that are as vibrant, meaningful, and useful as what we put into our books. But in a world that is, really, foundationally literate, writing is both the most magical and the most democratic means of communication and connection.

What are your tried and tested remedies to cure writer's block? I walk away and put my head someplace entirely different for a while. Over the decades, I have become an "advanced beginner" at an array of non-writing activities that I have no investment or delusions of doing professionally - playing the banjo, ukelele, pennywhistle, shakuhachi; singing in close harmony; knitting, sewing, quilting and crocheting. Just find something creative you have no investment in being excellent at, and enjoy it for a little while, to remind your brain that you're allowed to be imperfect and creative at the same time. When I don't have the time or energy to pick up a new hobby (which is more and more the case these days), then I shoot for any of these: cooking, gardening, or going for a long walk with a dog you love, especially near open water.

What is your favorite time to write? Whenever I'm awake

What's the best piece of writing advice you've ever received and would like to impart to other writers? "Start on page 3" --Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

What excites you most about being a writer in today's age? I love that in this particular storytelling era, previously unheard voices are being heard, and also that there is boundless room for experimentation. I don't have to either defend, or defame, the canon. I will always be a Shakespeare nerd, and Shakespeare is a dead white guy, but I no longer have to identify as *either* a Shakespeare nerd *or* someone who is stoked to read, say, N.K. Jemisin or Colson Whitehead. I love that I can read a blockbuster bestseller or an undiscovered gem recommended by my local bookseller - and then recommend either of them to the entire world via the internet. I love that audiobooks are hitting a golden age, too. I've a theatre background so I appreciate the artistry involved, and I do love a good listening to a good story.

Nicole Galland's Master of the Revels: A Return to Neal Stephenson's D.O.D.O. is out now with William Morrow.