5 common questions I’m asked by non-writers:
1. Do you have anything published?
Answer: Not yet.
2. What’s your novel about?
A 13th century English lady uses her shrewd political knowledge to help a nobleman succeed his deceased father amidst threats from a rival claimant, and finds that the incompatible tasks of putting him on his throne and winning his heart require equally cunning strategies.
3. How far along are you?
More than halfway. And more than halfway. (It’s a novel in two volumes. The first book is completed in draft, and I’m more than halfway through the second.)
4. How do you know what to write?
I think of it as a logical sequence of cause-and-effect, where each subsequent effect is more detrimental than the last. Plus, I can hear my protagonist speaking in my head (no, really).
5. Can I read your book when it’s finished?
I would love for you to read my book, “when it’s finished” being the operative (and ever elusive) term.
My 5 least favourite questions from non-writers:
1. How many pages do you write each day?
There are no pages; I usually manage only one and a bit. (Hey – tapping into the psyche and voice of a 13th century noblewoman takes time.)
2. Is your novel a romance?
No, it’s not a historical romance. I consider it a medieval political thriller, with lots of moral ambiguity and psychological impact. And a bit of romance.
3. Is there a lot of sex in it?
There’s a bit, though most of it isn’t explicit. Not every historical fiction novel need be a voyeuristic sexual romp through eons past.
4. What is your novel called?
Neither my mother nor my best friend even knows this. It feels too unlucky to say until the story’s finished.
5. When will you finish your novel?
I’m aiming for before I die. (Actually, I’m aiming for by my birthday, in late November.)
5 questions I wish non-writers would ask me:
1. What is your protagonist’s theme song?
Oh Father by Madonna.
2. How many other novels do you plan to write?
I have glimmers in my head for at least five more: two more historicals, a two-part historical fantasy, and a contemporary magic realism-romantic adventure.
3. How long did it take you to get to know your protagonist?
Approximately 13 days (I made note of this in a writing journal back in 2005).
4. What are your favourite words to use in writing?
Thus, notwithstanding, likewise, indeed, and wherewithal.
5. How do you come up with character names?
Street names, words I commonly mis-type, and the wives of former Canadian Prime Ministers have all informed the names of characters past and present.
5 questions I’ve never been asked by non-writers (and hope I never am!):
1. How do you know you’re any good as a writer?
Well, isn’t that the $64,000 question. I guess if I’m to be truly honest with myself, I don’t know it, as my feedback at this point (though mostly positive) has been limited.
2. How does it feel to have devoted so much of your life thus far to something that may never bear fruit?
Fan-frickin’-tastic! But that’s what makes life exciting, right – no money-back guarantees.
3. What will you do if your book doesn’t sell?
Lament the combined eight years I’ve spent thinking about it and writing it, and cry. Then write another book, and try to beat my current personal best time.
4. What if you’re unable to fully develop those idea glimmers of future novels?
Oh, sure – play on all my insecurities now.
5. Would you ever quit writing?
I almost never say never. Or always.
5 questions I’ve asked writers [some years ago now] as a non-writer:
It’s definitely harder to sell a trilogy [via traditional publishing] than a standalone novel.
2. Would I be wasting my time or otherwise hindering myself by writing and trying to [traditionally] sell a long first novel?
All you can do is write the best book you possibly can and hope it makes a love connection with the right agent and editor.
3. Do thoughts of your WIP ever disrupt your non-writing life?
Oh, yes. It’s inescapable!
4. How can I stop thinking about my story when I finish writing for the night so I can get to bed on time?
Create some sort of transition between your writing time and bedtime to signal to your subconscious that story time is over.
5. Does having [traditionally] published short stories increase a writer’s chances of [traditionally] publishing a novel?
The best way to increase your chances is to write a great novel.
This was a bit longer than my current blog posts, but I had fun essentially interviewing myself.
Writers: what questions have you been asked by non-writers? How would you answer any or all of the above five by five? Consider doing so on your own blog and sending me the link so I can read all about it.