Where Stories Are Made is a new feature here at Book Chick City. It’s where the author takes us on a tour of their writing place, be it an office, coffee shop or park and tells us about their writing day and rituals.
Where Stories Are Made with Angie Fox
For me, writing is more about being in a certain state of mind, rather than being in a particular place. I’ve come up with characters and scenes while cooking dinner, waiting in line at the bank and even in the middle of the night. (Picture me in the bathroom at 3:00 a.m., sitting on the edge of the tub with a legal pad on my lap, writing frantically while my husband is knocking at the door asking, “Are you feeling okay?” and me saying, “Yes. Can’t talk. I just came up with the idea for My Zombie Valentine.”)
Oh and I came up with the entire climax for A Tale of Two Demon Slayers while doing weights at the gym. Only this time I had no paper, so I slipped into the Kid’s Club area (where my two kids were) and asked one of the child care workers for some coloring paper and a pen. Naturally she only had crayons, and I was afraid my kids would see me and want to talk, so I proceeded to crouch on the floor next to the child care front desk while I basically finished outlining the end of the book. The gym woman, unlike my husband, did look at me a bit funny (Jim is used to me by now). But you have to seize inspiration whenever it strikes.
That said, I do have a writing schedule. We get up at around 6:15 a.m. with the kids. We get everyone ready for the day, then my daughter goes to school. (She just finished kindergarden.) I have an hour before my son’s preschool starts, so I use that to either play with him or if he’s too busy watching Super Why, I answer reader mail. Then I take him to preschool and have exactly four hours after that to write.
I don’t hold myself to a specific word goal like a lot of other authors. I just take that time however I need it. Some days, I’ll write an entire scene. Other days, the four hours could be spent creating a new character or subplot. I write on the couch in my office or upstairs, with the dog curled up next to me. I tend to talk to myself while writing and Moxie the dog acts like she’s listening, so it works.
My deadlines are pretty tight, so I usually write and edit a book in about five or six months. I like to be finished early, too, so the new book can sit for a few weeks and marinate. That way, I go back in fresh for the last edit before it goes to my publisher.
I’m also kind of funny in that I can’t work on more than one project at a time. So if I’m writing a book and a novella. I have to write them separately. I’ve tried to do two stories at the same time and use one to get distance from the other, but it just doesn’t work for me. I’m too linear in how I think.
I also have to have one chapter fairly polished before I can move on to the next. It amazes me when I talk to some of my author friends who will bang out a first draft in a month. My first three chapters can take a month. After I’m more grounded in the story, I’ll pick up speed, but I can’t move ahead until I know everything I’ve done is lining up. It’s strange because I’m okay with not knowing exactly where a book is headed, as long as I know where it’s been.
For example, my outline for the entire middle of The Accidental Demon Slayer consisted of “and little did they know all of the Shoneys are run by werewolves.” I was fine with that. But danged if I didn’t have to get the initial set up with the biker witches exactly right before I could leap headlong into the unknown.
Most of my writing is done on my laptop. I used to do more longhand, but now that my kids are older, my longhand notes will disappear, only to be found months later in a toy box or stuffed in the trunk of a pink Barbie convertible. So I’ve weaned myself off longhand brainstorming and am trying to do most of my work on the computer.
I write until 1:00 p.m., when I go pick up my son from school and usually realize I haven’t eaten lunch. We goof off together until it’s time to get my daughter from school. My son is usually so zonked at that point that he falls asleep when we get home. After I help my daughter with homework, she usually goes out and plays with her friends, at which point I’ll open up my work from the morning. Sometimes, I’ll tweak it. Other times, I’ll get a wild hair and start another scene or get deep into another writing session. Or if the muse has fled, this is also a time where I’ll write a blog post or catch up on reader mail. Or sometimes, I’ll ditch the whole thing and read a book. Reading is still one of my very favorite things to do.
Evenings I spend with my husband and kids. By then my brain is too shot to get any real creative work done. We also end up reading a lot in the evenings. I got into this business because I love books. For me, I read so much that it was almost inevitable that I say, “I want to do that too.” But I could never give up my books just because I happen to write as well.
Sometimes what I’m writing will change my reading tastes. Like if I’m on a big deadline and I’ve been focusing hard on one of my paranormals, I’ll spend evenings reading Regencies or Historicals. I also like quirky nonfiction books, like Stiff. It’s almost like when you’re eating and you eat a lot of salty, you need something sweet to balance it out. I need something different than what I’ve spent my day with.
I try to keep my deadlines under control enough so that I can take the time to really enjoy every part of the process – from conception to final edits. I know how lucky I am to be doing this for a living and I’m not about to take that for granted. My readers are some of the most awesome people and they make even the crazy times worth it – like once when I was backed up on a deadline and sneaking in all of these 4:00 a.m. writing sessions. I mentioned Tim Tams (these cookies you can only get in Australia) would make it so much easier. It was a joke, but darned if I didn’t get about eight boxes of TimTams in the mail the next week from my Aussie readers. And you know what? It did make it easier to get up at 4:00 a.m. So I credit my readers with pulling me through the ending of The Dangerous Book for Demon Slayers – and many other books since the Tim Tams have kept coming. Wahoo!
Right now, my kids are out of school for the summer, so my writing schedule is all over the place. I’m going to be calling my editor today or tomorrow to talk with her about my story idea for an upcoming novella that will be appearing in Were Wives of Vampire County. Then, I’ll get started writing it. Were Wives will be my main summer project since I’ll also be getting edits back for The Last of the Demon Slayers (out in December 2010). Come fall, I’ll start on So I Married a Demon Slayer. I’m also pitching a project right now that I’d like to work on after I finish demon slayer. So cross your fingers for me on that one.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angie Fox is the New York Times bestselling author of the Accidental Demon Slayer series. She claims that researching her books can be just as much fun as writing them. Angie earned a Journalism degree from the University of Missouri. She worked in television news and then in advertising before beginning her career as an author.