Moore often says in interviews that her real life is too boring to talk about. She grew up in Glen Falls, a small town in upstate New York, and after graduating from St Lawrence University, lived for a couple of years in Manhattan before moving west. For the past 25 years she has lived in Madison, Wisconsin, where she teaches creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and suffers bouts of claustrophobia and the occasional backlash that comes from being a well-known writer in a relatively small community. When she first moved there, she says, she felt so overwhelmed by professorial life that she tried to cultivate a flameproof persona. “I had such a reaction to the academic culture that I used to ask myself, ‘What would Goldie Hawn do?’ Because I thought she was completely unflappable.” But she says there is also a lot to like about the place, not least the breathing space that it has allowed for her writing.
When she was growing up, Moore wrote stories about “crazy magical things – things flying off into space to different planets and stuff”. Her teachers seemed to like them, though she says: “I don’t know that they were any good.” Her father worked in insurance and her mother trained as a nurse. They were both creative, which, perversely, made them less enthusiastic about their daughter’s preferred career path; creativity was something you did in your spare time. Moore has vivid memories of being taken as a child to watch rehearsals of the Glen Falls Operetta Club, in which both parents were involved. “They both had a lot of artistic and intellectual impulses in their lives. But in the end they just became classic middle-class parents, you know – you’ve gotta get a job, you’ve gotta work.”
Tell me about it, sistah.