I was a mute from the time I was seven and a half until I was almost 13. I didn’t speak. I had voice, but I refused to use it. My grandmother, who was raising me in a little village in Arkansas, used to tell me, “Sister, mamma don’t care about what these people say: ‘You must be an idiot, you must be a moron’. Mamma don’t care, sister. Mamma know, when you and the Good Lord get ready, you’re gonna be a preacher.” Well, I used to sit and think to myself, “Poor, ignorant mamma. She doesn’t know. I will never speak, let alone preach.” It has devolved upon me to — not preach, as it were — but to write about morals, about hope, about desolation, about pain and ecstasy and joy and triumph in the human spirit. So it seems to me, that is my calling. And I write about it for all of us, because I know that human beings are more alike than we are unalike.