My Writing Life:I've been writing my whole life, sometimes with the left side of my brain, as when I was writing technical documentation in the 1980's for many of the largest computer companies in the U.S. and Asia, and sometimes with the right side, when writing my two novels, Man in the Mirror: A man finding himself as he loses himself to Alzheimer's and Torn by God: A Family's Struggle with Polygamy. In my fiction, my focus is always on the human mind. My most basic desire is to know how people come to believe what they believe and how those beliefs lead them to act in specific ways. Exploring the depths of another person's mind, with all its intellectual and visceral layers of complexity, is as exciting and stimulating as exploring a foreign country, and the same is true for exploring the minds of the characters I create. Given my fascination with mind, I search for books which have a unique and idiosyncratic voice. It is not the writer's voice I am looking for, but the voice of the characters who live out their lives on the pages. For me, "voice" is more than just a tone or narrative style: it reflects the movement and subtle nuance of a character's mind, it maps the associative leaps between one experience and the next, it connects the character's sensory experience with a unique perception. Maybe the best way to say it is that everything in such stories is characterization, to one degree or another. Books such as Jane Hamilton's, Book of Ruth, McCourt's Angela's Ashes, and Joyce Carol Oates', Because It Is Bitter and Because It Is My Heart, all have this quality that I so admire. In my own stories, I try to achieve a high level of psychological realism, moving into the mental space of my characters, and settling in for the duration. Maintaining this kind or realism can be difficult at times. I lived with Aaron Young, the protagonist of my latest novel, Man in the Mirror, for seven years, working my way deeper and deeper into the experience of Alzheimer's, imagining what it would feel like, what he would say and do at any given time. When I was writing from the mind of my 12-year-old narrator in Torn by God, there were things I wanted to say that I couldn't say and still maintain the child's perspective. Still, I felt the innocence of the child narrator was important because it was indicative of the innocence of all the characters in the story. They are all controlled by the voice of their parents, by the voice of their religious leaders, by the voice of their God. So I let the girl see what she could see and let the deeper meaning lie beneath the surface, in the subtext where it belongs. It is there for my readers to find, if they can.