9. Hannah Tinti, 37

Distinction: Her debut novel, The Good Thief, swept up the awards (it won the John Sargent Sr. First Novel prize and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year) for its gothic, quirky style; her acclaimed short story collection, Animal Crackers, has sold in 16 countries. She also cofounded and edits the literary magazine One Story and volunteers with the nonprofit groups Girls Write Now and Behind the Book, mentoring the next generation of writers.

What drives you to succeed? E.M. Forster said the most important thing in life is to "only connect." It is what I am always striving for in my writing: to create moments of spiritual recognition with other people.

Describe yourself in one word. Perceptive.

You feel happiest when... I'm surrounded by people who know all my faults and love me anyway.

Any regrets? I wish I'd kissed that guy I met at the airport.

What has been your most spectacular failure? I fail every day. I question why I am a writer every time I sit down to face a blank page. I get over it by pretending that no one will ever see the words I'm typing.

What's next for you? I'm working on two book ideas. One is a bit of a sequel to The Good Thief. The other is a traditional love story inspired by Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre—that sort of classic storytelling.

How would you like to be remembered? I'd like someone to say, "She was my favorite author."

Designer: Tucker

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