For the launch of my third novel, I thought it would be fun to have the story editor, Patrick J. LoBrutto, ask some questions. He’s not only conversant with the novel; he made it better.

Pat, who worked in-house at Bantam and at half a dozen other major imprints, has edited more books than most people read in a lifetime. Over a career spanning three decades, he’s worked with Isaac Asimov, Stephen King, Eric Van Lustbader, Walter Tevis, the Louis L’Amour Estate, Don Coldsmith, Jack Dann, F. Paul Wilson, Joe R. Lansdale, Brian Herbert, and hundreds of others.

Obviously, if any of my answers come across as incoherent, it’s all Pat’s fault.

I love stars, the kind you find in the sky, but I’m not as enamored with those on the ground.

Your new novel, The Upcoupling— a contemporary take on Aristophanes’ comedy Lysistrata— is set in a suburban town in New Jersey called “Stellar Plains.” One day a cold wind blows and one by one the women, young and old, begin to say no to their men. Again and again in your writing you seem to return to the suburbs-and sex.

Both seem to me to be very vivid and durable territory for fiction. They each provide potential landscapes for all kinds of strong and paradoxical feelings.  I remember being in my bedroom late at night when I was little, and looking out my window into the window of the house next door, which wasn’t very far away; all the houses on our street were lined up and almost identical.  I saw the mother from next door through that window, and though I didn’t see anything unusual-no nakedness or fighting or anything-I had a jolting sense of proximity, and of how it was possible to have an entirely different life from someone else, and have an entirely different consciousness, even though you all lived in the same place.  As for the place itself-I think it sometimes depressed me, but I didn’t know it at the time.  There was so much turnpike, so many stores that held no interest: Dress Barn; the supermarket called Bohack’s.  Yet saying these names now after all this time, I find that they are weirdly electric to me, and still draw me in.

The rain came unexpectedly, after nearly three years of drought. In those days, Youssef still lived with his mother in a whitewashed house that huddled with others like it along a narrow dirt road. The house had one room with no windows, and a roof made of corrugated tin held down by rocks. The yard, where his mother did the cooking and the washing, was open to the sky. It was in the yard that she cleaned the sheep hides she took in on the day of Eid, and there Youssef received the rare friends who came to visit. The front door was painted blue, but over the years rust had eaten its edges, turning them reddish brown, so that holes had begun to appear at each of the four corners.