Laura Hillenbrand, the author of "Seabiscuit", did an interview with the NYT a few days ago (I missed it, but Powerline brought it to my attention; thanks) and it is pretty good, but this is an especially good paragraph:
"My goal as an historian is to make nonfiction read as smoothly as fiction while adhering very strictly to fact. I read a lot of nonfiction, and have certainly been influenced by such superb historians as Bruce Catton and David McCullough, but the writers who have had the greatest impact on me have been novelists. Michael Shaaras masterpiece The Killer Angels, an historic novel about Gettysburg, has had a tremendous influence on my writing. Tolstoy has also been a wonderful teacher, namely War and Peace and Anna Karenina. Other writers I read over and over again, and try to emulate, include Austen, Wharton, Fitzgerald and Hemingway."