Writer E.L. Doctorow is known for using real-life historical figures as characters in his period novels. Best known for his book Ragtime, his novel Loon Lake is now available in paperback. He tells Fresh Air's Terry Gross about the day-to-day work of a writer and how his job as an editor affected his prose.
The author has a new novel called Mosquito Coast, which he describes as a family adventure novel in the tradition of Treasure Island. In fiction and real life, he is interested in the impulse to leave one's home country, either as a traveler or an immigrant.
Spencer joins Fresh Air to talk about how became a writer and what life is like now that he's established himself. His newest book, Waking the Dead, grapples with ideas of loss -- a theme prominent in his breakout novel, Endless Love.
Early in his adult life, the writer believed that the narrow worldview of his Hasidic upbringing was at odds with his ambition to become a writer. Potok, however, is still very much tied to the Jewish tradition, which he explores in his novels.
Robert Stone's novels explore the drug culture of the 1960s and the Vietnam War--both of which he lived through. Often associated with Ken Kesey's LSD-fueled Merry Band of Pranksters, Stone now lives a quiet life in New England.