The rising seas, the sinking lawn: none of that bothered me tonight. Laura’s health and mind, shifting like water. Mister Greasy, Son of Unabomber. Far away. Yay. I walked from the bay. I could not see. But I might have been given a fresh brain, inspired and outwardly turned, and as soon as I spoke those words to the deep, I swear creatures started coming toward me. Squirrels, raccoons, deer, herons, catbirds, footfalls on fallen leaves. I was like someone out of a freaking folktale, who knew not death or the churned-up stomach but moved through the night with the lightest tread, changing it with the benevolence of his passing. Oh, I’m exaggerating for effect now, I’ll admit it. Real contentment has none of that extremity or loopiness. No sign of endings, or the long black coat creeping out from behind a bush. What was I telling you? It was something like this: the world was made exactly for us and we’d never have to leave it.

In one way, The Burning House is a book about a protecting a community. Lumina, the community in your book, is just a few feet above sea level.  Could you say something about water in your work?

I grew up on a lagoon, off a bay. It wasn’t our family’s usual, practical house, which was an hour inland, but it was the house that mattered to us. I knew early on that it could have been swept away by a storm in a minute. Did that make me love it that much more?  It shaped me hugely to live right alongside marshes, black pines, seabirds, salt water. This sounds weird, I know, but I feel more than a little out of sorts whenever I’m too far from a marsh. That sense of landscape in constant flux–covered by water, emptied of water–is crucial to how I think of home.