“I got my big break when I was five years old, and it’s taken more than 70 years to realize it. At five I learned to read, and I would not be standing here without the books, plays and scripts.” —Sean Connery
The reunion was a ridiculous amount of fun. I’m so glad I went. There’s another event tonight that I’m attending. Here are some pictures:
These three are of the campus:
Wonderful classmates Melissa, Bethany, and Cam.
They celebrated a lot of reunions last night, and this is where they held the big dinner.
The big group shot—we were getting ready to take the official photo, and I ran out to click my own.
And here’s that Q&A I promised, followed by a disclaimer: I’m still new to this gig, so take everything I say with a grain of salt. This is just how I see things, as of now.
jennafern asks: Okay, questions…I know you went through the “slush pile” during your submission process, but my question is about getting a series contract. Did you bring up the series in your query to the publishers? Did they sign you for a specific number of books when they accepted your first book? How bad are the deadlines? Do you still have a day job now?
I think the story of Tiger Eye sort of begged for a series all on its own—and in my query letter to the publisher I did mention that it could be the start of something bigger. I hoped, I hoped—and I suppose other people agreed, because my first contract was for more than one book.
The deadlines are as bad as you want them to be. And mine are pretty tight. I write full time at the moment, and it’s the only way I can keep up this pace. But I like the pressure, and I like writing fast. Everyone’s different, though. Some people are only comfortable writing one or two books a year. Maybe I’ll get to the point in my career where I’ll want to do that, too, but I’m not there yet.
del_kaidin asks: How do you find/develop your characters before you start writing? And finally… What time of day to you do most of your writing?
For me, characters are like people—you meet them by accident and then you learn about them in bits and pieces, information sort of leaking out until you get a whole picture. And even then you don’t always know what’s standing in front of you. Which is my convoluted way of saying that the people in my books are spontaneous. I don’t find them; they find me. And development is equally spontaneous, though once you know the character you’re dealing with, it becomes a matter of making sure the reader does, too. So you lay in the clues, the anecdotes, a certain way of talking and reacting.
As for best times of day…that varies, though I would say that I do my best work in the morning, as soon as I roll out of bed. Bed to desk. That’s what I do. And I’ll go for a couple of hours and then stop. And then write some more. And then stop. And then write and write and eat and write and watch a little tv and then write some more. And then eat. And sleep. So I do most of my writing all day long.
What do you think are the most important tools for a writer must have?
That’s a hard question, because everyone’s different. In my case, though, the most important tools have been endurance, optimism, bullheaded stubbornness, and a passion for words. This is a very difficult business. Even if you can write, you need to love the act of writing if you want to keep doing this and stay in the game for the long haul. And staying with the words, living this life, means a lot of hard work and the occasional sleepless night. I won’t say it’s not fun, though, because it is. A lot of fun. There’s trade-offs to all jobs—I think I work harder now than I would have as a lawyer, but I make my own hours, I’m telling stories for a living, and I work in my PJs. I mean, come on. My commute is two steps.
Melanie writes: Do we find out what Hari & Delia’s son’s name is in RHOJ? Do they have cameos? I confess I have wondered if there is more of Hari in his son than we might have thought. Which begs the question – How DOES one potty train a tiger??
Not in The Red Heart of Jade, but in Eye of Heaven. Cameos galore. And one potty trains a tiger very, very, carefully.