A Life of Books with R.L. Maizes, author of ‘We Love Anderson Cooper’

In her debut story collection, R.L. Maizes offers stories filled with quirky wit that explore the small tender moments of our lives. We Love Anderson Cooper brings outsiders into a warm embrace.

The stories have the same heart, but range in a deliciously diverse cast of characters. From a therapist’s couch to a boys Bar Mitzvah, we are welcomed in to relatable scenarios that will make readers feel connected.

Below, R.L. Maizes answered Debutiful‘s “A Life of Books” questionnaire.

Is there a book or series that, when you think back, helped define your childhood?

There are a few. The Pippi Longstocking books by Astrid Lindgren. I had an absent father, too, and was very fond of candy. When I was a little older, the Little Women books by Louisa May Alcott. What writer doesn’t identify with Jo? And a bit older still, Chaim Potok’s books, My Name Is Asher Lev, The Chosen, and The Promise. I saw the world I grew up in reflected in those books, and they captured some of the conflicts I had with that world. 

Would you want any children in your life (yours or relatives’) to read those too? Or what’s your philosophy on what children read?

I’d like anyone to read them, children or adults. People benefit by reading books that make them think and laugh. 

Moving to your school years: what book did you read in high school and hated (or skipped reading at all) that you learned you loved later in life?

I couldn’t get through Moby-Dick in high school. I tried to read it recently and failed again. 

What about the opposite way? One you loved in your teens, but realized you didn’t love it so much later on?

In my mid-to-late teens, I fell in love with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert Pirsig. I read it more than once. Recommended it to everyone. Gave away multiple copies. I thought it was the key to enlightenment. In my forties, I tried to read it again, and it didn’t speak to me at all. 

Are there any books that you read while writing your debut that helped shape the direction you took your own book?

I reread the wonderful Philip Roth story “The Conversion of the Jews” while I was writing the title story in We Love Anderson Cooper. The Roth story is so funny and so powerful. I hoped to achieve a fraction of what he achieved in that story. 

What is a book you’ve read that you thought, Damn, I wish that was mine?

So many! But if I have to pick one it would be Imagine Me Gone by Adam Haslett. That book changed how I saw mental illness. The choices the author made in that book, particularly with regard to point of view, were perfect. 

What have you been reading / do you plan to read during your debut book tour?

I just finished rereading the Plainsong Trilogy by Kent Haruf. These days, I rarely reread books, but in addition to being very moving and beautiful, I find Haruf’s work very grounding which is helpful when it comes to dealing the stress of a book launch. 

And, finally, I have to ask… I’m sorry. What’s next? But wait! Only use three words. 

Other People’s Pets.

Follow R.L. Maizes on Twitter and Instagram.

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