Once a week, Black Balloon's editorial assistant Kate Gavino chooses the best Q and the best A from one of New York's literary in-store events. Here, Kate draws from Michael Chabon's reading at Greenlight Bookstore on September 17.
Tell us about your research process, especially using the Internet.
Michael Chabon: [The internet] is very tempting, encouraging you, whispering insidiously into your ear to indulge the need to know something immediately. Sometimes I feel like I actually pose those research problems to myself just so I have an excuse to check my email. Like say, how many spark plugs were in the engine of a standard issue US army truck that was used by the troops in Europe in 1944? You know you can find that. You know there's a whole spark plug website or military spark plug archive. It's there waiting for you, and it's very tempting right then to just get that information because a lot of the times you go looking, you find out way more than you bargained for. It's a great thing. Many times I've made important discoveries about books I was writing that I would not have know if I hadn't gone and done the research.
But usually, you can just put “tk” and leave it and go on and that took me a long time to learn. Most of the time it's just a lame excuse to go on Gilt.com and just waste time. Now I actually try to shut off the Internet, and that's really increased my productivity to a terrifying degree. I used to blame the fact that I have kids for the fact that I wasn't getting much done but it turns out it wasn't their fault. Well, it's partly their fault.