Anne C. Heller is the author of 2009's Ayn Rand and the World She Made.
From her Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:
Q: [Rand is] known for being sexually free. Would you say she was not only an atheist but a hedonist too?--Marshal Zeringue
A: She was a Russian to a core. She grew up in a time of free love in Russia, and she felt that was everybody's right, as long as they weren't hurting anybody else.
But I don't know that you'd call it hedonism. She wasn't a person for whom fine clothes, good food and living well were important.
Q: Why is she so popular among politicians who don't fully embrace what she believed?
A: A lot of them – Paul Ryan is an example – read her when they're quite young, the way most people do, at 13, 14, 15 or even 18.
They identify with her characters, who are heroes and create all sorts of new inventions and prosperity. But they really don't think them through to the degree that Ayn Rand did.
Q: Why did she speak through fiction?
A: When she first came to America, she understood that the Communists were the screenwriters, the playwriters and the novelists. Using the power of fiction, she consciously set out to answer them, to outdo them, in creating a fiction of free markets and individual rights.
She did quite a...[read on]