I'm here at a marvelous artists colony in a small Swiss village called Morges, near Lausanne and Geneva. What an exquisite place this is. A big, pink, every-so-slightly shabby house perched in the mountains overlooking Lake Geneva. The château has a rich, fascinating history. It was the summer retreat of a famous German publisher named Ledig-Rowohlt, who published — and translated — many celebrated authors for the first time in German after WWII, e.g., Faulkner, Camus, James Baldwin, Updike, Thurber, etc. Harold Pinter refused to let anyone else translate his plays into German. Nabokov, who was a neighbor, was a frequent visitor here, as was Henry Miller, a few of whose watercolors (G-rated) adorn the walls of the living room. My office or study was Ledig's library, and I write each day surrounded by books and by the friendly ghosts of all the writers who sat in this room. Ledig's widow established this place as a writers' retreat 12 years ago. And here we all are. There are six of us: myself; a delightful English couple, Maggie Gee and Nicholas Rankin — she's a successful novelist in the UK, he's a former BBC journalist and non-fiction writer; a bestselling Arab author named Khaled Al Khamissi; an utterly charming and gracious French novelist in her 70s called Claude Pujade-Renaud; and a Polish novelist, Grazyna Plebanek, who just arrived last night but seems lovely. No jerks or serial adolescents in the bunch, for a wonder, and everyone is incredibly passionate about ideas and books and film and culture. The people at the château are very generous and take excellent care of us. The only way I know I'm not in heaven is that I have to go down the hall to pee.
I've done little this last week but recover from jet lag — harder than usual for some reason, but I'm almost there — and write. I think that's how it will go. Three weeks is such a short time, and my creative juices are flowing here. I will venture into Evian and Lausanne one day toward the end, and perhaps take a boat ride on Lake Geneva, but apart from that and daily walks in the countryside, I'm going to work. This is the perfect place to do it, and after having lost a month at home with the dreaded bathroom renovation, I'm eager to make progress on Red. That's my job now (she said, pinching herself).