[Rosellen] Brown, 56, is the author of four novels, a collection of short stories and a book-length poem. Her most recent novel, "Before and After" (Farrar Straus Giroux, $21), has been made into a movie starring Meryl Streep and Liam Neeson that will be released in February. Her novels are characterized by sensitive investigations into complex family relationships and examinations of the responsibilities of the individual to society.
"When I look back," Brown says, "I think it was both good and bad that I always knew that I wanted to write because I am doing what I always wanted to do, so I can't regret it. On the other hand, I feel sometimes as if I neglected a lot of other things along the way.
"I would have liked to have paid more attention to my education, for example. All I was doing in college was writing, and I didn't really think too much about anything else. And I'm very sorry about that. There were times when I almost protected my writing time and self the way violinists protect their hands. And that's not always a good thing.