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.
My guest today is urban fantasy author Kat Richardson, best known for her ‘Greywalker’ series featuring Harper Blaine…
I work on a laptop, usually in my office a few miles away, but sometimes at home on the sailboat—I’m not very good at working in public places like coffee houses or libraries, because I goof off too much (hellooooo Twitter….) There’s not a lot of room on a sailboat (which is where I live) and sometimes it’s uncomfortably cold or moving around, so the office comes in handy. The office—or as I call it “the human-storage unit”—is also a good place to store books, including reference and research books as well as my author copies, and boxes of various swag like bookmarks and postcards, and all the paper archives—stuff like early hard copy drafts, discs, galley proofs, and notes. It’s kind of like Tupperware: stuff it full, put on the lid and it’s fresh for a loooong time. Or mostly fresh, so long as I remember to take out the trash.
So… a typical day starts with breakfast (Coffee!) and wrestling alligators. OK: e-mails. But sort of the same thing because if you don’t pay attention, they will bite you in the butt! E-mails about work-related stuff usually come from a distant time-zone like New York or London or Munich and I want to get replies back as quickly as possible so the editor or agent at the other end can do their job as quickly as possible. And then someone will send me money! (mmm… money.) And I can pay the bills (what do you mean you’re raising the rent…? I just moved in!)
After the alligators—umm… e-mail and checking the social networks to make sure no one’s saying anything I’ll have to respond to, I start on the word-count for the day. I try to do 2,000 words a day Monday through Friday when I’m in the writing phase, or 10,000 words a week. I prefer to do 3,000/15,000 but that’s an “I’d like to” not an “I have to” goal. Anyhow, I get the laptop up and running at the office or I sit down at the sailboat and read what I did the day before, then I check my outline (I really do make outlines) and notes and start writing. Sometimes it goes really fast and I’m done in four to five hours. Sometimes not so fast and I don’t make the goal or I’m still struggling along after 8 or 10 or 14 hours or whenever I start beating my head against the table top and saying, “I hate you, I hate you!” A lot.
Before I start the writing phase I do a lot of reading, research, note-taking, and internet surfing looking for nifty stuff I can use into the next story. Sometimes I go to interesting places and museums and look at things in person. I make files of stuff and eventually I start shuffling the ideas around until I’ve got something I think will be an interesting premise. Then I make a rough outline based on notes and ideas. Yes, I’m an outliner. I used to outline more, but as I’ve gotten older, my outlines have become more skeletal and I fill in a lot as I go. Sometimes I have to go talk to people or send e-mails, or make phone calls to get more information, but that’s the way it goes. Once I’ve got all that down, I generally know where the story starts and ends and what stuff I want to put in along the way, including the sub-plot points. Once I’ve got that I can start the actual words-on-pages (or in this case pixels-on-screen) writing.
The writing phase is frequently interrupted a lot by additional research as well as a lot of swearing, crying, depression, going out for drinks, conferences, book tours, other peoples’ book tours, professional obligations, family insanity, field trips to Hell, deciding I’d rather be a professional cat-wrangler, and lying in bed thinking “why did I give up writing technical manuals…? Oh yeah… it sucked.”
Anyhow, so that’s they typical work-cycle in my typical storage-unit—err… I mean office. See: it really does look like a storage unit. Unless I’m on the boat, when it looks like… a very uncomfortable bench and no enough table-space.
Luckily I have a great view when I’m at home and I have the skeletal lizard-guy when I’m not. Skeletal Lizard Guy is very amusing. Sometimes I find him trying to climb things he shouldn’t, eat things he shouldn’t, or write letters to Penthouse. I used to have a pair of stuffed pigs with wings—one blue and one pink—until they got lost in… umm… the storage unit…. I know they are in there someplace… making little flying piglets. Pray we find them soon.
I usually give up on the writing gig at 5:30 p.m. Or whenever I think my brain is going to implode. Then I go home, make dinner and either go back to work if I didn’t make the word count, or watch mindless things on Netflix. I’m currently working my way through Veronica Mars, True Blood, Breaking Bad, and Penn & Teller’s Bullshit! Because you never know where a cool idea can be stolen—umm… I mean found. Yeah… found…. That’s it….
Labyrinth: Out Now
Damn Near Dead: Out Nov 2010
You can find out more about this feature HERE
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**Next time on ‘Where Stories Are Made': Kate Ellis**