Among the most famous of all the famous writers who came out of the celebrated Iowa Writers' Workshop is the prolific and talented Jane Smiley. Smiley has written more than 10 novels, including the epic The Greenlanders and the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Thousand Acres, based on King Lear. She's also written nonfiction, on topics including horses, child rearing, and a biography of Charles Dickens.
Smiley joins 29 other of her fellow workshoppers, including John Irving, T.C. Boyle, and Sandra Cisneros, to contribute anecdotes, memories and thoughts on what they learned and didn't learn in the mid 1970s in Eric Olsen and Glenn Schaeffer's new book, We Wanted to Be Writers: Life, Love and Literature at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
She appears Tuesday with two other writers at Book Passage in San Francisco. She talked with us about enjoying the process, how living in Iowa supported her writing, and Shakespeare and Virginia Woolf's community.