"Many writers are sad, bookish people who are comfortable writing. But as a writer you have access to people. It's your job as a mediator to respect those people – not to ridicule them." Forget prizes and adoration from the critics, Joyce Carol Oates knows why she writes. "A novel should extend sympathy," she says. "That is what a writer should try to do."
If you haven't read her yet, try Blonde, her imagining of the life of Marilyn Monroe, or We were the Mulvaneys. Or more or less any one of her other novels (more than 30, and that's just the ones under her own name...).