Alexander McCall Smith is, to say the least, productive. He works on at
least two books at once, producing four or five a year. Out today, his
latest, “The Charming Quirks of Others,” is the seventh installment in
his series about Isabel Dalhousie.


The author sat down to talk with us about time management, philosophy
and — of course — his other heroine, the beloved Precious Ramotswe of
his “The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency” series.

How do you organize your time?


I’ve stopped planning. My life is now planned by other people, so if my life is planned, it is not by me.


Does this interfere with the creative process?


I think it keeps my life in order. I’m not too anxious about all sorts of things going wrong because it’s been planned.

Your books are often described as easy-to-read and entertaining — would
you like to think they can be read at another level as well?

I would hope that people finish the book and feel that they have seen
some aspects of human nature that makes them feel better. The books
don’t contain solutions, of course, but I would hope that readers would
have an emotional engagement with the characters. I would also hope
that they are amused as well.

What qualities drive your characters?

I suppose that the characters are confronted with the same moral issues
that we are confronted with every day. How should we behave? How should
we go through life?