My overarching interest is human character. Why do people behave the way they do? Each of my books explores this issue in a different way. I realized that I needed to make a systematic study of happiness -- especially if I personally wanted to be happy!
What's been the most challenging part about working on The Happiness Project?
The most challenging thing I've done -- and one of the most exciting and fun things I've done -- is to launch a blog. I was incredibly intimidated by the prospect, but now it is one of the joys of my life.
You earned your undergraduate and law degrees from Yale. Do you still practice law?
Nope, I gave up law. I like writing much better.
What led you from a career in law to a career in writing?
Once when I was visiting a friend in education grad school, I saw that she had a lot of dry, dull books lying around. I said sympathetically, "Do you have to read these books for your program?" She said, "Yes, but that's what I read on my own, anyway." I realized then that I never did any work related to law unless I absolutely had to. And since, at that time, I was clerking for Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, I was surrounded by people passionate about law. I decided I wanted to do for my work the things that I did for fun. As it happened, at the time, I was working on a draft of what would be my first book, Power Money Fame Sex. I realized that some people write books for a living -- and I could, too.
What was your first-ever published piece about?