AZ: What Bella Donna brings with her, and this is a driving force in the book, is swan lore, the extraordinary stories of the swan that play out in so many cultures worldwide. How did all of that emerge?
AW: She has a lot of knowledge of swans, white swans, but there are eight different species of swans in the world. I also wanted her character to show that we are all in the same boat, in a way, and things can happen to any of us, so we should be careful of how we treat one another. In one of his essays, Calvino also quotes Borges saying that there are many men flying in the air and many men on the ground and on the sea, and what happens to them happens to me. And this is true.