We’re pleased to welcome author Carla Killough McClafferty to our Skinny Dip column. She is known for her fine and carefully researched nonfiction books, such as The Many Faces of George Washington: Remaking a Presidential Icon; Something Out of Nothing: Marie Curie and Radium; Fourth Down and Inches: Concussions and Football’s Make-or-Break Moment and her most recent Buried Lives: The Enslaved People of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. If you’re near Mount Vernon, Carla will be presenting on April 11, 2019, at 7:00 pm, as part of the Ford Book Talk Series. You can register for free tickets beginning February 22, 2019.
What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever read a book?
I suppose in the bathtub … but that’s not weird.
Do you keep your bookshelves in a particular order?
Nope, it is all crammed in together.
How many bookcases do you have in your house?
Five, if you count closets with shelves that are full of books.
What’s the predominant color in your wardrobe?
I favor blues and greens, especially royal blue.
Which library springs to your mind when someone says that word? What do you remember most about it?
We didn’t have a library in the small town where I grew up. My elementary school did not have a library either. So I didn’t have a lot of access to books growing up even though I loved to read. Since I was an adult before I had access to nice libraries, I consider any library to be a wonderful place. As a nonfiction author, I’ve had the privilege to do research in some of the finest libraries in America. I’ll never forget the days I’ve spent doing research in the libraries at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the Boston Athenaeum. For a girl who grew up wishing for a library, it doesn’t get much better than that.
Which book you read as a child has most influenced your life?
Since I didn’t have access to a lot of books as I grew up, I didn’t read the usual books. I borrowed novels from neighbors, so I grew up reading Victoria Holt and Phyllis A. Whitney.
What’s your food weakness?
I love Mexican food. Especially cheese dip.
What’s your favorite form of exercise?
What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?
In my personal life-raising self-supporting kids. In my professional life-researching and writing books I’m proud to have written.
What’s your favorite flower?
Have you traveled outside of your state? Which state draws you back?
Yes, I’ve traveled a lot. I’ve visited 25 states outside of my home state. I never get tired of Virginia because it is full of history. And I never get tired of the beaches in the Florida panhandle.
Which country is your favorite to visit? Why?
Yes, I’ve traveled in Canada, Mexico, England, Scotland, Ireland, Wales, France, Spain, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Greece, Israel, Turkey and Jordan. I’d say my favorite to visit is France because small towns are picturesque and Paris is beautiful.
Who’s your favorite artist?
I have two favorites: Van Gogh and Monet.
What’s the last performance you saw at a theater?
When you walk into a bakery, what are you most likely to choose from the bakery cases?
A chocolate croissant — definitely.
What are your favorite pizza toppings?
Pepperoni and pineapple.
Do you remember your dreams?
Bits and pieces.
If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you choose (don’t worry about language differences.)
George Washington. I’ve written about him a lot.
What foreign language would you like to learn?
Do you read the end of a book first?