The Writers' Loop

For Readers and Writers

Pulitzer Prize Winner Jane Smiley Visits Northshire Bookstore

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By Peggy Morehouse

Pulitzer Prize winning author Jane Smiley visited Northshire Bookstore in Saratoga Springs, NY to discuss her new trilogy about the life and times of a remarkable family over three transformative decades in America. IMG_0648 Smiley walked in wearing a Saratoga Racing Hall of Fame cap that she purchased earlier that day, rainbow colored high tops, and of course, a smile. She then answered questions about her books and her life.


Jane Smiley is on the left.

She explained that each volume of her new trilogy spans 33-to-34 years of the Langdon family, five wildly different children who got their start on an Iowa farm. Smiley wanted to explore how characters transform throughout their lives and how they stay the same. From the time they were born until they died, she focused on a component of Langdons’ psyche that never changed. As intriguing as that sounds, the story doesn’t start on page one. It begins in the dedication:

This trilogy is dedicated to John Whiston, Bill Silag, Steve Mortensen, and Jack Canning, with many thanks for decades of patience, laughter, insight, information, and assistance.

Ike Pulver, Director of the Saratoga Springs Public Library, who interviewed Ms. Smiley asked, “Are those four men your husbands?” Jane Smiley grinned and nodded with a glint in her eye, then relayed that she has been divorced three times and married four. Proving that she could have a second career as a comedian, Smiley mused about her marriages and how these four men not only influenced her personally, but helped with her writing. She conveyed that her current husband is a great listener. When Smiley finishes her writing for the day, she reads to him hoping for a critique. “If he falls asleep, I know I need to add more sex.” IMG_0661Besides writing and romance, Smiley likes to wear caps that she collects, and she loves horses. She has written books with her favorite animal as the main character including Horse Heaven and True Blue, and stated that there is at least one in all sixteen of her novels. She described her relationship with horses by saying, “They’re like having a friend that you can ride.”

When asked about what books influenced her, she said that The Bobbsey Twins and Nancy Drew were the first characters who kept her eyes glued to a book when she was a young girl. However, reading Giants of the Earth by Ole Edvart Rolvaag  in ninth grade had a profound impact on her life. “What you read when you’re 13, shapes your consciousness.”

After her interview, Smiley welcomed questions from the audience, and signed books while conversing with her Saratoga fans. IMG_0677 To learn more about Jane Smiley visit her website:

Stop by her Facebook Page at:


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