You’ve only ever written nonfiction, except for that bad college poetry. What made you think you could write a novel?

I didn’t mean to. I sat down one day and wrote this thing that was not a magazine article, not anything I was being paid to write, then I added to it the next day, and the next. It was a dream sequence about a woman imagining her friend’s last moments on a doomed plane. That became the beginning of chapter three, and it never really changed. Until I admitted to myself that I was writing a novel, I thought it was a cathartic journal entry about my friend who’d been on Flight 11 on Sept 11th. It was her first business trip after her maternity leave, and I became obsessed with the notion of legacy, and how we all die with bits of our story untold.

Chris stood quietly at the grill scraping burger residue with a steel-bristled brush, his back radiating to Kate that after a few hours of small talk, this was hers to wrap up. Dave sat with his feet up on a deck chair, beer in hand, calling directions to the children playing hide-and-seek. When a child came close—a Martin or a Spenser, it didn’t matter which—he’d reel the runner in by an arm or a leg. If his tickling was a bit more exuberant than necessary, the children were either unaware or did not mind. Kate sat quietly on the deck amid the noise. The sense of the missing member of the party was a fog low over the patio, changing the look and feel of everything.