1) Do you write every day? 5 days a week? Only on weekends?
These days, I try to stick to a five day a week schedule and leave weekends for family time, but when deadline hits, all the best plans go right out the window.
2) What comes first for you, usually. the character, or the story idea?
Concept comes first, but I feel like this question sets up a bit of a false dichotomy, because sometimes concept is completely tied up in the character who carries it. For instance, Captain America can’t be just anyone who got a military super-strength serum. He’s Steve Rogers: patriotic, brave, big-hearted 98 pound weakling who got a military super-strength serum.
I could have written my killer unicorn series about any one of a variety of unicorn hunters (and did, in the many short stories I’ve written that tie into the killer unicorniverse), but the fact that it’s Astrid make the storyline for the books about a very particular hunter’s experience. When I said I was going to write a “post apocalyptic Persuasion” that was a concept, but it came part and parcel with a story about a quiet, loyal girl and the big dreamer she never stopped loving.
3) Do you/can you work on more than one project/idea at a time?
Gosh, I hope so! I guess in some sense, I do that all the time — drafting one, revising another, doing publicity for a third while brainstorming a fourth–but I’m at a point in my schedule where I’m trying to draft two at once. I’ll let you know how it turns out.
4) Favorite mode of getting the words d own…desktop, laptop, Alphasmart, pen and paper?
Any way they’ll come. Usually I use my laptop, but if it’s not around, I always have a notebook and a pen in my purse. I’m not picky–except I can’t do dictation very well, which is annoying, because so often lovely snippets of dialogue come to me while I’m driving!
5) What do you feel is your biggest strength as a writer?
Cute, fluffy animals. I never want to do a story without one again.
In all seriousness, though, it changes with every book. I think I do banter pretty well but then I’ll write a book or three that isn’t particularly bantery. (I haven’t yet learned that trick about playing to my strengths, I guess.) Every project is its own beast, it seems. I never thought of it while writing but if I look back at my body of work I can say that I am strong on worldbuilding, too, whether the world is someplace real (Yale Campus, Rome), or imaginary.
6) Do you have a Dream Project or idea that’s sitting in the back of your mind that you hold there as a “someday I’ll write that” sort of thing?
Every book I’ve ever written is a “dream project” for me. Writing books is so hard that I don’t think I could do it if I didn’t have an extraordinary passion for the project. Which is not to say that things don’t occasionally sit on the back burner for a while — it’s like food. Sometimes you can fry a meal up quick and sometimes you need a slow cooker to make it come out right. Secret Society Girl was less than 4 months from brainstorm to book deal, but I had to marinate on the idea of “post-apocalyptic Persuasion” for years before it was fully formed.