Best way to spend a snowy day
Playing outside with my kids. We like to hook up an inner tube or an old tire to the back of our neighbor's four-wheeler, and he pulls us around an open field near our house. Afterward, we have hot chocolate—or just go straight for the marshmallows.

Best moment of encouragement
My mother is not someone who usually dispenses advice. But one time when I was giving a eulogy and was so overcome that I couldn't speak, she quietly said to me, "You can do it, Mary-Louise." I actually hear her saying that in my head quite often.

Best holiday dish
There's a Swedish fruit soup recipe in my family—it calls for prunes and dried apricots—but we don't make it that often. It's not bad, but it's a bit of a diuretic.

Best thing about growing up in Arizona
The thunderstorms. As a kid, I always loved the sound and smell of them, and the sky could look pretty astonishing. Yes, Arizona has tons of strip malls and fast food, but there's also a lot of beauty. The desert is very dramatic.

Best male role model
One hundred percent, always and forever, my dad. In a sense, my book begins and ends with him. He was the strongest, most open-minded, funny, wonderful, explosive, and interesting person. I could have written ten books about him.

Best comfort food
Tea with milk and honey. But I find a good book most comforting of all.


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