My favorite answer is from Abbott. In response to the usual "What inspires you," she had this response:
Other than books and films, the biggest influence is probably the arcanea of U.S. history, the ephemera and “hidden” history. I’m a sucker for flea markets and antique stores and estate sales where I can find old movie-star exposés, tabloid newspapers from past decades, men’s magazines from the 1940s and '50s, police magazines, sleazy true-crime books, even old yearbooks and snapshots. All the lost things that we think of as transient bits of the culture -- to me (and this is clearly informed by my love of James Ellroy’s alternate histories), these bits and pieces are the culture, they are the history and they tell us so much more about the lived experience of past decades.What I like about it most is she and I do the same thing when at a flea market or antique store. One of my favorites sources for the "ephemera" of history are postcards. They are rich with so much unsaid truth that stories just pop out, especially since we know what happened next in history and they didn't. I also love advertisements in magazines and newspapers. When I was researching my thesis, I constantly went down rabbit holes as I read the ads in microfilm newspapers. Those ads often say more about culture than the text of the news piece.
Go check out the rest of the interview and enjoy.