On Animals will hit shelves Oct. 5.

Susan Orlean gained many fans during the pandemic thanks to her delightful (and wine-soaked) social media antics — and now both her longtime and newfound readers will have a new book to devour.

On Animals is a collection of stories about exactly that: animals. Orlean, who has long been an admirer of our four-legged friends, reflects on the relationships between humans, pets, wild creatures, and even the animals we eat. The stories cover topics from homeowners who keep backyard chicken coops to homeowners who keep illegal big cats (no, not Tiger King, but close). The book hits shelves Oct. 5, and EW is exclusively revealing the cover now.

On Animals
Credit: Simon and Schuster

To celebrate the first look at this next book, Orlean also answered EW's burning book questions to tell us about the first time she ever wrote about animals, illuminate her writing habits, and tease a bit of the material we can expect from On Animals.


ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What is the first thing — ever — that you remember writing?

SUSAN ORLEAN: I wrote a little novel called Herbert the Near-sighted Pigeon. Family legend has it that I was only 4 or 5, which seems a little young to me, but I was definitely young when I wrote it. Herbert gets glasses in the end, so it turns out well!

What is the last book that made you cry?

Hamnet, by Maggie O'Farrell. It's a marvelous novel about William Shakespeare and the loss of his son.

Which book is at the top of your current to-read list?

The new book by Kazuo Ishiguro, Klara and the Sun.

Where do you write?

I have a wonderful little studio in our backyard where I work. In a pinch, I can write anywhere, but I'm happiest when I'm in my studio.

Credit: Author Susan Orlean

Which book made you a forever reader?

The Sound and the Fury, by William Faulkner. It made me realize that reading (and writing) is magic, and I've never looked back.

What is a snack you couldn't write without?

I'm very disciplined about eating while I write — in other words, I don't. But I guzzle tons of Diet Coke and sparkling water.

If you could change one thing about any of your books, what would it be?

If I could run them all through the typewriter one more time, I would. I always feel like I could tune them up a bit with the benefit of time away from them.

What is your favorite part of On Animals?

I loved writing about my chickens, so every piece in the book that's about them makes me happy.

What was the hardest plot point or character to write?

I profiled a show dog for the book, and when I realized that dogs don't talk, I knew I had to use my ingenuity to explain his personality.

Write a movie poster tagline for the book:


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