At the end of this post I will tag a few authors who will hopefully post about their writing process next week: Martin Langfield and Ken Layne. You can read about them and find links below.
Each of the authors will respond to the same four questions on the writing process below:
1. What am I working on?
I have been putting the “finishing touches” on my debut mystery novel, “Bad Citizen Corporation,” for several months now. I am lucky to have talented friends who are helping me edit and revise.
I have also been writing a series of short stories based on some of the same characters from the novel. I believe (hope?) that creating these backstories for my characters will help me flesh out their personalities in the novel.
I am stoked to announce that Akashic Books has agreed to publish one of my short stories, “Swinging Party,” as part of the “Mondays Are Murder” short fiction series in August.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My writing draws heavily on my experiences growing up in Southern California, and my life as a rock musician. I have met a lot of colorful characters in unique situations. When everything is working properly, the dual filters of a faulty memory and vivid imagination help me twist those experiences into a leaping off point for my fiction.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I want to write because I love to read.
My fascination with fiction started in my late teens, mostly thanks to Kurt Vonnegut, Raymond Chandler and Charles Bukowski. In the last five years I have really fallen for crime/detective/mystery fiction by Ian Rankin, Jo Nesbo, Arnaldur Indridason and others. Also, rock biographies and dystopian YA.
4. How does my writing process work?
I wrote my first novel a decade ago (mercifully unpublished) and it was a manic dash from word one to word 120,000. Then I talked about writing a second novel for nine years. Then I sat down and actually wrote a second novel for a year.
With “Bad Citizen Corporation” I started by creating a timeline of events and brief character sketches. The events in the novel morphed and changed, and the characters evolved, but I found it helpful to understand the basic parameters of the universe I was attempting to create.
My editing strategy has been to transfer the story from my head to the page before making several revisions myself. Then I let the people around me provide feedback about what is and isn’t working. Sometimes that process means giving the manuscript a rest for a week or two myself, and then reviewing it again with fresh eyes and a new perspective.
For short stories I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, usually starting with a hook and building around it.
Here are the authors for next week:
Martin Langfield is the British author of two genre-bending thrillers about alchemy, time and loss, “The Malice Box” and “The Secret Fire.” Young adults around the world especially like his work. He has been a foreign correspondent and editor with Reuters since 1987, reporting from El Salvador, Nicaragua, Mexico, Peru, Cuba, Madrid, Miami and London. He now works with the company’s Breakingviews commentary team. Martin majored in French and Spanish languages and literature at Cambridge University before studying indigenous literature in Mexico for a year. He has also worked as a drummer and an English teacher. He lives in New York.
Ken Layne has edited and written for many publications, including The Awl, Wonkette, Gawker, Tabloid.net, Sploid, Prognosis, UPI, and the LA Examiner.
About “Dignity”: A packet of hand-scrawled letters found in a stranger’s rucksack tells of self-sufficient communities growing from the ruins of California’s housing collapse and the global recession. In unfinished Mojave Desert housing tracts and foreclosure ghost towns on the raw edges of the chaotic cities of the West, people have gathered to grow their own food, school their own children and learn how to live without the poisons of gossip, greed, television, mobile phones and the Internet. Encouraged by an enigmatic wanderer known only as “B,” the communities thrive as more families and workers are discarded by an indifferent system. But this quiet revolution and its simple rituals cannot stay unnoticed for long, because the teachings of “B” threaten an entire structure of power and wealth dependent upon people toiling their lives away to buy things they don’t need.