The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells hit bestseller lists in 1998, and soon women around the country began donning headdresses to dance under the full moon. Wells' new novel, The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder, was released in July. "I've got books and books and more books around me,'' she said when we spoke to her by phone from her home in Washington state. She is also an advocate for those with Lyme disease, which she was diagnosed with in 2004.
What is on your nightstand?
Flannery: A Life of Flannery O'Connor by Brad Gooch, Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame, Collected Poemsby Czeslaw Milosz and stacks of past issues of the Oxford American.
Did you learn new things about O'Connor in Gooch's book?
I am still reading it. It's a good book. Her life is so important to me. Her work really came into my life when I was making the transition from writing plays to writing fiction. And when I first read her, I realized she had a humor that went through her books and her Catholicism was always there. But then, when I got sick, the inspiration became even more deep. There was a period when I was in a wheelchair, and I would think to myself, "Well, this is not fun." As I'd read her collection of letters, knowing she knew she was sick, it hit me, what it must have been like for her to write in her situation. I knew I had to keep going as a writer.