Of the books you've written, which are you most attached to?
John Frederick, ROCHESTER HILLS, MICH.
I probably feel most attached to the one about my son, which is His Bright Light, but that's nonfiction. Fictionwise, I always feel most attached to the one I just finished, so that would be Legacy. It's about a Dakota Sioux Indian woman. She's a very courageous soul.
My son is bipolar like your son Nick was. His Bright Light is my favorite book of yours. Would you ever be a spokesperson for mental illness?
Debra Lathrop, READING, PA.
I am, in a way, because I wrote a book about having a child who was bipolar to show what we experienced, what he experienced, to give people hope. But I wouldn't be interested in touring the country and making speeches. My life was really taken up in great part by his illness for many years. When he died, I remember thinking, I don't want this to become my life now as a crusade.
Are any of your novels based on your life?
Stella Cardozo, MONTREAL
Sometimes, in an altered form. There's no question that in 113 books, something has snuck in. But there's not a whole lot that's lifted straight out of my life. My mother asked me the same question once, and I said I'd have been dead years ago if all that had happened to me.
As the mother of nine children, how do you balance writing and family?
Pam Lawson, MCPHERSON, KANS.
I wrote at night when they were asleep or in the day when they were at school or both. I didn't sleep a lot.
Does it annoy you that you've not won a prize for literature?
Sally Budd, CRAWLEY, ENGLAND
What means more to me is that the books mean so much to the readers. And I never think about winning prizes--just about what I write and reaching out to people.
How do you avoid confusing the story lines of your novels?
Joann Mackewich, WEST HAVEN, CONN.
I only work on one at a time. I'll start from the beginning to the end. Then I put it aside. I can't do two chapters in one and then another chapter in another one. I do 22-hour stints for several weeks until it's done. I don't go shopping. I don't take messages. I don't go out. I stay with the book.
Have you ever had writer's block? If so, how did you overcome it?
Sloan Piva, PORTSMOUTH, R.I.
I had writer's block once. My son died, my marriage ended, and I stopped writing for about 14 months. And I was afraid that was it forever. Then I was in a car with a friend in London, and a double-decker bus was heading at us at full speed, and the driver was not pulling out of the intersection. I screamed, and the driver pushed his foot on the gas. The bus scraped the back bumper, and we discovered that our driver was drunk. It shook me up so badly that I got a great idea for a book, went back to my hotel and started writing again.
Are you religious?
Anna Maraj, STANGER, SOUTH AFRICA