Archetypes: Kathleen Finneran

 In Guide, Style

An interview with Kathleen Finneran, author of “The TenderLand: A Family Love Story” and a Writer in Residence at Washington University.


What is your current mood or state of mind?

What makes you happy?
Spending time with my nieces and nephews, especially my youngest nephew.

What is your idea of misery?
Being surrounded by constant chatter.

What did you eat for breakfast today?
A whole-wheat bagel with peanut butter and a banana.

Whats one word that describes you?

What trait do you value most in others?

Whats your favorite occupation?
For myself: reading. In the world: an architect who can write, in addition to designing and building.

Who would you most like to be?
A writer with a second book.

Whats your favorite color?

Whats your favorite food?

What food do you like the least?
Eggs with runny yolks.

If you could have dinner with anyone (dead or alive), who would it be?
My younger brother who died early in life; it would be nice to sit across the table from him again.

What vice do you most tolerate in others?
Capricious shopping.

What talent do you wish you had?
Imagination, so I could write fiction.

Who are your favorite authors?
Susan Orlean and John McPhee for nonfiction, and Marilynne Robinson for fiction.

What excites you?
Really good writing.

What do you consider a turnoff?

What do you love?

What do you hate?

What are you most looking forward to?
A poetry reading on March 5, when my friend Jane Mead will be reading as part of the Observable Reading Series.

What is one thing you wish would happen?
Hillary Clinton runs for president again.

Whats something interesting that you just learned?
That the sweetness of an orange is determined, in part, by where the orange is located on the tree.

Whats something you want to learn?
Practical things: plumbing, electrical wiring and the inner workings of a house.

What is your personal motto?
Less is less; more is more; enough is enough.

In another life, youd be:
A carpenter.

What is your current obsession?
Elephant seal colonies.

What is your favorite word?
I like the word browse. It has nice possibilities.

What is your least favorite word?

Whats on your “bucket list”?
Finding a way to live most of my life on the shore of Lake Michigan.

Your hidden talent:
I plan fantastic trips.

Personal hero:
The painter, Agnes Martin.

If you could have a conversation with your younger self, what would you say?
I would tell myself to want more, do more and see more.



Kathleen Finneran

Kathleen Finneran


Photo credit: Photography by Wesley Law

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