1. Where does he actually live?
Born in Mississippi, Ford has called some 17 states home, among them Louisiana and Montana. Since 1999 he's lived pretty much full-time in East Boothbay, Maine, in a house that faces Linekin Bay. He shares that house with his wife of 38 years, Kristina, three bird-hunting dogs, and a cat.

2. That's a very big idea he's got there!
In his six novels and three collections of short fiction, Ford has brilliantly, and sympathetically, dissected American life in the late 20th century, daring to examine the understory, as he refers to it, where matters of mortality, faith, politics, and sex are all-consuming but seldom directly addressed.

3. How do you immediately know it's a Ford sentence?
If the language is meticulous, astute, sensual, and funny, and you come across lines such as the following: "Anytime you see a man and woman sitting having coffee in a food court at the mall, or having a drink together in the Johnny Appleseed Bar, or walking side-by-side out of the Foremost Farms into a glaring summer sun holding Slurpees, and you instinctively force onto them your own understanding of what they could be up to (adulterers, lawyer-client, old high school chums), it's much more likely you're seeing an ex-wife and ex-husband engaged in contact that all the acrimony in the world, all the hostility, all the late payments, the betrayals, the loneliness and sleepless nights spent concocting cruel and crueler punishments still can't prevent or not make inevitable. What is it about marriage that it won't just end?" If a scenario like that unfolds, whiplashing you from amusement to anxiety, then you can be sure you're in Ford territory.

4. A little advice for fellow writers
"Emily Dickinson said writers should 'tell it slant,'" says Ford, acknowledging that he and his character overlap a bit in terms of personal history. "Frank's not me, but it gave me a great deal of pleasure to transact the world in his voice."

5. How great can one guy really be?
The short answer is: very. At age 62, this paradoxical writer (rugged and urbane, clear-eyed and a fan of Hallmark greeting cards) is disarmingly frank and self-deprecating. "I'm not out dancing in clubs, I'm not a drunk, I've been with the same girl all these years. I'm kind of dull." Which suggests simply that Ford understands the word dull to mean something other than we do.

6. Any parting words?
"The middle is where you have to be good," Ford says. "You don't have the brio of the beginning, or the sense that you're getting it all together, so you need to be really on for the middle part, and I think that's where I'm good. You could say it of life, too. Anybody can be good in a crisis. It's after the climactic has happened that you have to be pretty determined. Most of life is spent in the after part. That's when we have to be good humans. Where there's no great drama is where we have to live."

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