Be sure to check out her answers to the questions as well! I always find it interesting to read about other writer’s processes — we’re all so very different!
So, without further ado…my writing process (if you can call it that) and answers to other writerly questions…
What am I currently working on?
Something completely different. Ha! I probably said that when I first started on ASK ME, as it was so much darker than my previous books, but this book truly is different. It’s not YA, which is the biggest thing. I’m working on an adult crime fiction/noir novel about a female hit man. Yep, you read that right.
Strangely enough, both of the short stories I’ve had published were adult crime fiction. This novel is actually an expansion of those of those stories. Well, it uses it as a jump off point, at any rate, though there’s only one scene and not much else in common with the short story it originated from. I’m having a lot of fun with it so far.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Hmmmm…this is one of those questions that I always have a hard time answering. My immediate snarky response is to go “Uh, because I wrote it” but that’s not really an answer. I guess I’ll go with the fact that my books, no matter the topic or seriousness level, will usually have an undercurrent of humor. Often that kind of inconvenient/embarrassing type of humor.
I love that a recent reader of ASK ME tweeted:
I think that pretty well sums it up. Yeppers. Inappropriate, odd humor.
Why do I write what I write?
That’s kind of like asking me why do you breathe? I write what I write because it’s the stuff in my head. In all seriousness, my head is full of quirky weirdness and randomness and meshing things together that don’t always seem like they go. Sometimes I wish I were a more “commercial” writer but, ultimately, I write what I write because it’s what’s in me and it’s got to come out (bonus to you if you recognize the song reference there).
How does my individual writing process work?
I’m kind of an in-between writer. I know some authors who really plan out every detail of a novel with extensive outlines and mountains of research and copious files. I know others that are complete pantsers and just wing it as they go. I’m a bit of both.
I generally start with the kernel of an idea, which is often a character presented with a situation (ASK ME = teenage oracle with no control over her power finds herself in the middle of a murder mystery). I will often have a kick-off scene in my head that captures that character for me, my defining scene, if you will (In my current book, it’s the opening chapter where the hit woman, Hildie, is on the way back from a job with a severed hand in her purse and a junkie tries to rob her).
I keep a simple / brief / non-complicated outline by chapter (or timeline) for the book. I note the main action, the characters in it, and what I’m trying to convey/introduce/follow through with. That sounds complicated, but really, it’s very basic. Trust me.
I mostly write from the beginning to the end straight through. My first drafts tend to be heavy on dialogue and light on setting. Once I’ve completed one pass, I go back through again and add in more detail and fine tune things. I’ll also make sure all the plot points carry through and fix anything that needs to be tweaked because of late developments. I am not afraid to jump my outline (in CAT GIRL’S DAY OFF I wound up adding a whole new ending). Then I’ll make another pass or two. My agent will read through it at that point, though she might have seen bits of it before.
Oh, and I try and get out of the house to write, otherwise I wind up doing laundry and frittering my time away. I have staked out spots in little cafes and pubs all over my neighborhood here in London. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see when I post photos of my “desk for the day.”
Lastly, I actually love the revision process. That might be my favorite part. It can be frustrating but also very rewarding. It’s like the draft is the skeleton and the revising is when you add all the things that make it a living breathing thing. I love working with my editor (and my agent).
So, that’s me (mostly…you know me, I could go on and on). And next Monday (April 7th) you can learn about the writing process of two other excellent and amazing authors:
Paula Freedman, who recently moved to London from New York and has joined the group of writers I call family here. Her first book, My Basmati Bat Mitzvah is a real charmer for readers 10+ and I absolutely adore the cover! I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Paula too, so I’m anxious to see what her answers are.
Shawn Wickersheim was in my writing group when I lived in Chicago and is a heckuva writer and a nice guy. He packs a punch. He writes adult fantasy novels and totally isn’t afraid to look into the dark places and write what he finds there.
I really enjoyed being in a writing group with him and valued his advice. And, I made his book covers for him!
I can’t wait to see what they have to say!