The woman inspects her hand. She holds it away from her face and looks at it as if it does not quite belong to her, as if its history is something she had read. Thirty-two years before the hand had gone into her mouth regularly. Sixteen years before, it had unbuckled the belt of a young man who was watching television nervously in the basement of her parents’ home. Eight years before, it had enveloped the tiny hand of her son as he put his lips around her nipple for the first time. Four years before, it had opened up the mailbox at her home, and everything had changed.

Why did you write this book?

Most of the time, it’s difficult to identify the exact moment that a work of art springs to life. In this case, it’s a little easier. At the end of 2008, I did a special limited-edition art book project with Hotel St. George Press called Correspondences: it was a beautifully constructed box with fold-out flaps, and the stories in it mostly concerned letters and letter-writing, and the way they affected (mostly doomed) relationships between people. I always knew that it would have a second life as a more traditional book, and when Harper Perennial approached me about exactly that, I was ready with nine more similarly themed stories.