What is your workspace like?
“I like your clothes-line,” said Anna as she took stock of my spare room. “Oh, yes!” I replied a little awkwardly (as if it were not obvious and as if I had forgot the clothes-line was there) not sure if I should expound upon my methods of keeping notation or if my methods spoke for themselves.
My workspace is the spare room. I do not say in the spare room, it really is the spare room, for my work seems to flow out from me like a bride’s enormous wedding skirt—and as comparably deadly to innocent passers-by. I have a roughly gibbous-shaped computer desk, complete with a mobile keyboard shelf (very handy); I push Jefferies’ screen to the back edge of the desk and leave what is not otherwise occupied by the router and speakers open to clutter from the mouse, my slips of note paper, my journals, pens, oddment candles and jewellery, and an impressive shrine to tea mugs.
To the right of my computer chair is a matching chair I employ as another table (all flat surfaces will be requisitioned as a table), and over it I have hung my cork-board (covered over in scraps of notation for Adamantine, Plenilune, Gingerune, and Between Earth and Sky, a map of England that has seen better days and darker places, passport photographs, a pretty snapshot of the girl who remarked on my clothes-line, and an ominous poster declaring in bold font NO ONE PROVOKES ME WITH IMPUNITY). I keep portraits of my Adamantine cast above and around it. Eikin looks down at me knowingly…
The left-hand wall is protected by a sea chest (which you can barely make out, as it is swamped in a lamp, a tea pot, Chesterton, and papers), a window (a window?), more pasted notations, the map out of The Eagle of the Ninth, a painting of Bagheera, a chart of linguistics for the Indo-European languages (ehwot?), and sports the fabled clothes-line strung from the end of one single mounted shelf at one end of the wall to a single mounted shelf at the other end, from which line I dangle more notations that don’t fit on the walls. The double bed acts as yet another table when Abigail isn’t sleeping in it (even then I’m not sure she always digs out all the books before she falls asleep), and the wall above the bed sports the most concentrated menagerie of my Plenilune notations divvied up by Honour. And then there’s a bookcase. Full of books. And an awkward closet with those dreadful folding partition doors in which I keep all my Christmas stuff. And a table that used to be our dining room table but got demoted to Another Table for the Spare Room. Oh. I seem to keep a copy of Webster’s dictionary, a Scots-English dictionary, and Athanasius under my computer desk. And there’s a cat on my lap. Point of interest: I keep a masque that I bought in Charleston on a mannequin head on the top of my bookshelf. Cool stuff.
Do you have any writing idiosyncrasies?
I don’t write well in notebooks. I don’t even write very well on my laptop. I write best on my desk-mount Jefferies, whom I have had for years and who has been a very loyal, healthy fellow. If I have not “put myself together”—dressed, brushed, put on my make up—I cannot think clearly enough to write anything decent (usually I can’t think enough to do anything decent). I prefer to have something to drink while I am working. I don’t have to worry about dehydration because, so long as I have a cup of water or a mug of tea handy on the desk, I will drink it mechanically as I work. Not having a glass around peeves me and cramps my style. (I have been known to nearly take a swig from an old, forgotten mug of tea before catching myself. Yewwah…) I’m sure I make faces, I pace when I get excited, and I am almost always listening to some music while I work.
Do you have favourite songs you listen to while writing?
Oh, any old thing that catches my fancy will do. I can listen to a single song all day if I like it enough. I usually do. Lately I’ve been listening to "Sho's Song" from the film "The Secret World of Arrietty" and Andrew Peterson’s “Matthew’s Begats;” before that it was the handful of Jim Croce songs I have on my computer; several Shearwater songs work wonderfully for Plenilune, the credits theme for the 1995 version of “Kidnapped” is especially stirring (if regretfully short), and a bit of Owl City, though not typically in line with my novels, is heart-warming when the work is going hard.
How long does it generally take for you to write a first draft?
There is no generally. It took me about two years to write The Shadow Things completely, all drafts included; it took me about five years to write Adamantine (but only because I was young and wandering and still learning my trade); I am about halfway through the first draft of Plenilune and it has only been a year. And a NaNo. So…no generally.
What sort of character is your favourite?
Oh boy. I think my favourite woman might be someone like, oh, Aunt Honoria, or Lady Prezmyra, or Lady Mevrian—are you allowed to have two you like from the same book?—the sort that reminds you of Athena: “stone-stern and shrouded in black and gold.” Turning the tables, the men I like are often small in stature, or lean—they don’t look like Thor, and they often rely more on wit and charm and manners than their fists. Some of them combine brains and brawn, but I like fellows like Howl and Gro, which answers the next question…
What is your favourite character you've created so far? Why?
It is a friendly tie between Rhodri of Adamantine and the fox of Plenilune, for those very reasons I stated above. The one relies on wit almost alone and does not have enough stature for brawn; the other, in his charming, unassuming form, packs a punch and his wit, while sharp, looks to the untrained eye to be far-flung, wandering, and at times scrambled like an egg. I love them both to death and to discover them has been a treasure.
does it show...?