By Seija Rankin
July 22, 2019 at 03:15 PM EDT
Elisabeth Caren for EW; Avid Reader Press/Simon + Schuster

The good news keeps coming for Lisa Taddeo: Her buzzy book Three Women, an exploration of female desire reported over eight years, launched in the No. 1 spot on the New York Times best-seller list last week, a staggering achievement for a literary debut. In the wake of the book’s continued success (read our rave review, and check out Taddeo on our summer debut author roundtable), we had Taddeo answer our What’s in a Page burning questions.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?
LISA TADDEO: As a kid, before I could read, I used to grab my dad’s Stephen King or my brother’s Piers Anthony and transpose a word of my own for every single one of their words. I would tell a story in this sort of neurotic way, to a gathering of my stuffed animals. I also wrote bad poetry when I was 10 and won a $1,000 grand prize from the National Library of Poetry. It was helpful to prove to my father that I could make money from writing. And at 12, I wrote a 350-page novel on my Smith Corona about a group of conservationist high schoolers in the Congo. Ha. I was a depressed kid and writing about a world I could only dream of (and research in an encyclopedia) made me happy.

What is the last book that made you cry?
Let’s Hope for the Best, by Carolina Setterwall.

Which book is at the top of your current To-Read list?
The Yellow House, by Sarah Broom.

Where do you write?
In my “office” with many teetering stacks of books and papers and my kid’s drawings taped to the windows and completely blocking the incoming light.

Which book made you a forever reader?
Stephen King’s The Stand. I think. I don’t know. There were so many from an early age. I used to read Dean Koontz. The wimpled paperbacks my parents took to the pool.

What is a snack you couldn’t write without?
No one in particular. But it’s always salty and never sweet and always a whole thing. Not like chips or crackers. But, for example, a White Castle cheeseburger. Or a chik’n slider — this vegan sandwich that I eat even though I’m not vegan, because it’s unbelievable.

If you could change one thing about any of your books what would it be?
I would have written them earlier.

What is your favorite part of Three Women?
The prologue was both the hardest and the easiest part to write. I like it for those reasons. But my real favorite parts were when each of the women felt safe enough to communicate their pleasure, which is harder, I found, than communicating one’s pain.

Who was the hardest character to write in this book?
It was hardest to write about Maggie, the young woman in North Dakota whose life was upended by an alleged relationship with her high school English teacher. Not only did something devastating happen to her, but then an entire community didn’t hear her. The state of being unheard — which I think all of us have felt — Maggie suffered through in spades. It was hard to write that because it pained me to stir up those emotions for her again. But I knew it was important to her (and to the reader it might help) to get it right.

Write a movie poster tag line for your book.
Pain is so close to pleasure…Queen

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