Yes, Barbara Kingsolver left us - but if it bothers you, get over it: She loves us still, or at least she cares.
"I consider Tucson the place where I came of age as a young adult," she said in a telephone interview a week ago. "I became a writer there. I still think about Tucson a lot. I hope I've been forgiven for leaving."
Kingsolver, a native Kentuckian, left Tucson in 2004 after living here for two decades. She lives and writes in Appalachia now, in the far southwest corner of Virginia, not far from its intersection with Kentucky and Tennessee.
"At least I came back to my point of origin," she said. "I didn't betray my roots when I left."
And good news: Kingsolver is coming back to Tucson next week to read from her new novel, "Flight Behavior," at the Temple of Music and Art and to autograph copies for her fans.
"I'm excited," she said. "I've never played the temple."
Here are some highlights of our talk with her:
On the writer's life: "I love to write. Do something else if you think it's a curse to be writer. … It makes me happy. I would definitely do it even if no one read my work. It's the happiest place - especially midway and past midway of a novel, when I've clicked into the sphere, inside that place, and I'm seeing characters, hearing them talk and understanding how all the themes are connected. There's something rapturous about being in a world and knowing everyone's souls."
The fun part: "Telling stories, thinking of something brand new to work on, brand new questions that seem impossible to answer - biting off more than I can chew and seeing how great that tastes."
The hard part: "To quit at end of day, to go make dinner. … As long as I've been a writer, I've been a mother - I signed 'The Bean Trees' contract on the same day I brought my first child home from the hospital - so I've always been grappling for enough time … writing when children were in someone else's care. The school bus is my muse: When it shows up to carry off my children, my writing day begins. … I've never had time for rituals, writer's blocks. I've always been more or less like a race horse at gate, prancing with impatience to get to my desk."
On the new novel, "Flight Behavior:" "Climate change is the backdrop, literally part of the setting, and a prime mover of the plot. … Some of the questions I wanted to ask were why is it so difficult for us to talk about climate change? Why can we look at the same set of facts and decide to believe different things?
"I wanted to ask why we can't talk about climate change and to look at the modes of denial that drive our thinking."
Barbara Kingsolver's Arizona books
"The Bean Trees," 1988
"Animal Dreams," 1990
"Pigs in Heaven," 1993
"High Tide in Tucson," 1995
If You go
• What: Barbara Kingsolver, reading from "Flight Behavior" and signing books afterward
• When: Next Sunday at 7 p.m.
• Where: Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave.
• How much: $15 at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave., or $10 if you buy the novel; $17.50 online at inconcerttucson.com or $20 at the door on Sunday.