Fun Facts About “Inside the River”

I love to read about the writing process of authors of my cherished reads.  I thought it would be fun to share some of these with all of you and to better help Ang Lee as he reads my book and imagines it on the screen (although he doesn’t know it yet).

Here are some fun facts about Inside the River:

  • The name Emma would have been my younger son’s name if he was girl.
  • Throughout my life as  a reader, I’ve been incredibly inspired by the Latin writers and magic realism, especially Isabel Allende.  For the past decade, I’ve been obsessed with Haruki Murakami and the devastatingly bizarre and intoxicating worlds he creates in his novels.  And to the American publisher of his books, could you translate his latest book already!?!
  • There was no outline for this book. I wrote and rewrote the book three times and let it unfold.
  • The first draft was written at a Starbucks community table (silence distracts me).
  • The book is set up into 6 parts: it goes Pt 1 Ana, Pt 2 Emma, etc.  Each part has 6 chapters, each chapter has 10 pages.
  • Ana was always her name, even 20 years ago when she was written as a short story.  But as Emma was enlivened 4 years ago, I realized I wanted both their names to end in “a”, with their names being pronounced out loud with the energy going up, like most of the sanskrit yoga poses.
  • My first draft had a third person narrator as well and the chapters went up and back between Ana and Emma.  It was such a difficult read and it was hard for me to let it go and rewrite it.
  • I hope the environmental theme comes across to my readers.  My belief is that there was more magic in Ana’s world because the water she drank was cleaner, and what we drink affects the purity of our thoughts.
  • The title was always Inside the River, even when it was a short story.
  •  I have a problem with writing the word ‘that’ in many of my sentences…I’m working on that.
  • This is a complete work of fiction.  I have never seen singing fish or a girl with blue hair (although I would love to).
  • Regardless of the success of this book, I have accepted the truth that I am only fully alive when in the act of creating something with words.
  • I reread Tess of the D’Ubervilles, by Thomas Hardy, every five years since 1990.  My next reread will be 2015.  On the inside cover of the yellowed paperback is a list of all the words in the book that I didn’t understand when I first read it in college.
  • One year, while leaving a performance of Alvin Ailey, I was standing behind Toni Morrison (the greatest American writer of our time, in my opinion) and I froze.  I still wouldn’t know what to say to her, besides thank you.
  • Fear has been the greatest obstacle in my writing.  The mantra I’ve used to help me is: I no longer say yes when I mean no. I no longer say no when I mean yes.  It’s all about saying what you mean when you mean it.  The fear grew when I held my words inside.



  1. It is all about saying what you mean… I love you more deeply and completely then I have ever loved before. I know you feel the same. I see it in your eyes, I feel it in your touch, and I hear it in your words. So there’s nothing to fear… Your words are no longer inside!!

    -Sent from Steve Posner’s iPhone

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I would love to know your thoughts...thanks for sharing!

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