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Alice Hoffman

Location: Wellfleet, Massachusetts

Reading spot: My backyard

The acclaimed author's 20-plus books include Practical Magic and The Red Garden. Her latest novel, The Dovekeepers, comes out this month.

I spend summers in a little farmhouse on Cape Cod. The yard is a wonderful combination of settled and wild: It's surrounded by a white picket fence, but there's a view directly into the woods. I've seen foxes, blue herons, and ospreys. I usually write from 5 a.m. until 3 p.m.; afterward I'll go outside with a book, a glass of wine and my Polish sheepdog, Angel. Nobody's around, the phone's not ringing, the Internet connection is often on the fritz. The only interruptions are dragonflies and bumblebees. Often I'm reading nonfiction, research for whatever I'm writing. For The Dovekeepers, it was history -- books like The Jewish War by Josephus, who was the ancient historian of everything that happened during the Roman occupation of Israel. But in summer I also have the urge to reread writers I loved when I was young, like Ray Bradbury and Shirley Jackson.

Just read it and loved it:

Something Wicked This Way Comes, by Ray Bradbury
"When I was a girl, this one was a life-changer for me. Such an American, magical story."

Olive Kitteridge, by Elizabeth Strout
"This book features a character who's unlikable but you get to know her so well that you wind up having compassion for her. And it's beautifully written."

Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend, by Susan Orlean
"Orlean is a wonderful writer and this is a wonderful book -- a dog story and a Hollywood tale. Plus, I'm crazy about German shepherds."

Continued on page 5:  Janet Evanovich


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