A couple of weeks ago, my friend and fellow author Holly Evans posted a blog questionnaire generated for her by our mutual friend Al of Hyperactive Pandemonium. At the end, Holly listed some authors whose answers she was interested in ... and yours truly was among the lucky few! I was challenged to answer Al's original questions, then add one more. My extra question comes courtesy of Twitter comrade Mike Conners. I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did filling it out...
What time do you wake up in the morning when you have a day of writing planned?
I strive to get up around 7:30, but sometimes the snooze button and pillow pile win out, and it's more like 8 AM.
Do you energize yourself with tea or coffee?
It depends upon the day, and on my mood. I actually have a tiny can of V8 first thing in the morning, as I find it gives me more energy than coffee. (One of many, many reasons why I'm a weird human being.)
Where is your favourite writing location?
My desk in the sunroom. I'm in the market for a lapdesk with a big, squishy pillow base to put my wireless keyboard and mouse on, and then I'm golden. I currently have my latest novel outline on the window in sticky notes.
Where would you love to visit and sit and write?
Someplace with a big, comfy window seat and stained glass that catches the sun so I can curl up like a cat while I scribble.
Do you use pens and notebooks? Pencils? Laptop? Computer?
... Oh, wait, I should probably be specific. I do a decent balance of handwriting and typing - handwritten in black ink for first draft, Scrivener for second draft, Word for final draft and e-book conversion. I know it could be simplified a little, but tying form to process stages works for me.
How do you relax after a day of writing?
Writing IS my relaxing after a day of Work And Adulthood.
Nibble you must have whilst writing?
It varies ... tonight it's ice cream, but most of the time I'll have a handful of nacho Doritos, or some other kind of chips, and a glass of iced tea or water.
Favourite treat to offer yourself after writing?
Social media and a quick foray into the Internet Black Hole. But in all honesty, the writing itself is the treat.
If you could choose one book to read for the rest of your life, what would it be?
A complete collection of Grimm's Fairy Tales. All stories have pieces of one of those in them, somewhere, like mica in rock.
If you had the chance to meet any author, alive or dead, who would you meet?
Can I choose two for fairness' sake? Joanne Harris and Patrick Rothfuss. Both seem like very decent, smart, kind human beings.
Favourite factual book?
Tarot 101 by Kim Huggens. There's such a wealth of knowledge there: not just about the cards, but about the basic fundamentals of storytelling and various cultures. Every time I skim through it, I find another connection between symbols and favorite books or other stories.
If you were to write an article on anything, what would it be about?
I'm actually brainstorming a series of articles in conjunction with the tarot studies I've been doing ... one article for each card, tying the symbols to character types and concepts so that they can be used as a tool for fiction writers. With the right amount of luck and interest, I'm hoping to turn it into my first non-fiction book.
Would you rather be famous with a one hit wonder or stable with a long run?
Oh, I'd much rather be stable than famous. I have too many stories to tell: stability is the best way to ensure that as many of them get told as possible.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I can't tell for certain, just yet. Buster took me five years due to writing in small spurts for a long time, before I buckled down and wrote the last two thirds in about a year. In The Cards took about three months, if you condense all my writing time together. I have a month's worth of steady daily writing done on The Proper Bearing, but it's being a bit difficult, so we'll see. (Short answer? It takes how long it takes.)
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a lot of them. But I'd have to say that my interesting one is also my oldest: not only am I a lefty, but I hold a pen with the tip poking out from between the knuckles of my middle and ring finger, instead of between index finger and thumb. I keep my hand curled in a fist and balance the side of my hand on the writing surface.
Do you have any suggestions to help people become a better writer? If so, what are they?
Don't get wrapped up in trying to find The One Way To Write. I read an awful lot of books on writing before I realized that it was up to me to figure out what my process was, to build my own voice and style. Writing is a little like a recipe: sure, most of the ingredients have to be the same as others', and in similar quantities, but you have wiggle room to experiment and find what you like best, to work with what you have.
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
Fun fact: my spiritual practice actually came about because of my writing. When I began creating Aviario, I knew that I wanted magic involved somewhere, somehow. I didn't want something like the magic I knew from high fantasy and fairy tales, though: I wanted magic that would feel believable. So I started researching real-life witchcraft. I self-initiated myself as a solitary witch in 2001, and began a long path of learning and growth. Along the way, I changed labels from Wicca to Eclectic Pagan before finally settling on Druidry a few years ago. Not all of my characters follow paganistic beliefs, but the concepts of truth, order, and balance factor very heavily throughout the stories of Aviario. The magic came from the story, and the stories feed the magic.
Bonus Question: When do you sleep (if you sleep at all)?
Mike said he was half-joking when he asked me this, so I'm going to give him a half-serious answer. I don't actually sleep. Between midnight and 7 AM, my spirit leaves my body and I go to other spheres of existence. ;)
Since this was a pretty informal questionnaire to begin with, I'm not going to tag anyone in particular, BUT ... if you want to fill it out, go right ahead - just make up your own bonus question, and have fun! See you all back here next Thursday!
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