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00:00:09From the Center for the Study
00:00:10and Teaching of Writing at The
00:00:11Ohio State University, this is
00:00:12Writers Talk.
00:00:14I'm Doug Danger.
00:00:15Pete Hautman published his
00:00:17first novel Drawing Dead in
00:00:181993 and has published nineteen
00:00:20other novels since then,
00:00:22including 2004's Godless, which
00:00:25won The National Book Award for
00:00:27Young People's Literature.
00:00:28He's also co-written three
00:00:29Bloodwater Mysteries with Mary
00:00:31Logue and maintains an active
00:00:33interest in both poker and
00:00:35filming online book trailers in
00:00:37which he gets shocked, so we'll
00:00:39ask him about that.
00:00:40Welcome to Writers Talk, Pete
00:00:41Thank you.
00:00:42Happy to be here.
00:00:43Well let's start with the
00:00:44most shocking part of the intro
00:00:46and talk about the book
00:00:48trailers to your latest book,
00:00:49Blank Confessions.
00:00:50First, can you set Blank
00:00:52Confessions up for me?
00:00:53Blank Confession opens up
00:00:55with a sixteen-year-old boy
00:00:57walking into a police station
00:01:00saying that he's killed
00:01:01somebody, and it's a story told
00:01:03from two points of view.
00:01:05It's the point of view of the
00:01:06policeman that's interviewing
00:01:08the kid and then from the point
00:01:09of view from the kid's friend,
00:01:11Mikey, who of course is telling
00:01:14a completely different story
00:01:16than Shane, the main character.
00:01:19So a lot of it takes place in
00:01:20an interview room with a very
00:01:24frustrated policeman and a very
00:01:25enigmatic Shane Blank, the main
00:01:32What was the writing process
00:01:32like for you on this book?
00:01:34How did you get into the
00:01:36What made you want to work on
00:01:39sort of a genre, not a genre
00:01:41film, but a well established
00:01:42kind of police procedural
00:01:44outlook and then do something
00:01:45different with it?
00:01:46One of my favorite stories
00:01:51is Shane, by Jack Schaefer,
00:01:54which is a book written for
00:01:55younger readers, was published
00:01:57in 1952, and made into an even
00:02:01more famous film starring, was
00:02:05it Alan Ladd?
00:02:06Yeah, I think so.
00:02:08Or Gary Cooper, I can't
00:02:10No, I think it was Alan
00:02:13I loved that film and I
00:02:14loved all it's iterations.
00:02:17The hundreds and hundreds of
00:02:18times its been made over and
00:02:19over again.
00:02:20A stranger comes to town and
00:02:22takes the side of the
00:02:23downtrodden to battle against a
00:02:24more powerful and usually evil
00:02:31I mean, most of Clint
00:02:32Eastwood's westerns follow that
00:02:33formula and I wanted to write
00:02:36that formula, but I didn't
00:02:39really want to do it was a
00:02:40I wanted to take that classic
00:02:42shape of a story and do it in a
00:02:45modern setting so I chose to do
00:02:46it in a medium-sized city,
00:02:49present day, with motorcycles
00:02:52instead of horses and stun guns
00:02:56and tasers instead of guns.
00:03:01And as far as the police
00:03:04procedural part, I had the idea
00:03:06for this particular sort of a
00:03:08cop that would interview the
00:03:10young offender and kind of tell
00:03:12the story backwards.
00:03:13I wanted to try a different way
00:03:16of organizing the story,
00:03:19something that I hadn't done
00:03:21before, which is what I kind of
00:03:24strive for in most of my books,
00:03:26to try something different each
00:03:29And I think your book
00:03:29trailers are an attempt at that
00:03:30as well.
00:03:31You've got that book trailer
00:03:32for Blank Confession, which
00:03:34features you in a room.
00:03:37My acting debut and you know
00:03:40Philip Seymour Hoffman has
00:03:43nothing to worry about.
00:03:48I'd never acted before in any
00:03:51sense of the word and I had
00:03:53decided to do this trailer and
00:03:55I had an idea for kind of a
00:03:56goofy little story that sort of
00:03:59relates to the story in Blank
00:04:01Confession, but not really.
00:04:03I was very self-conscious about
00:04:04doing a book trailer, too,
00:04:05because a book trailer, who
00:04:06watches book trailers?
00:04:08I don't know.
00:04:09You know I don't know who
00:04:10watches them, I don't know if
00:04:11they make people buy books, but
00:04:13I just kind of had this idea I
00:04:15wanted to try to produce a
00:04:17short, little movie with me as
00:04:21the main character.
00:04:22So I got to sing, which was one
00:04:24of the most horrifying
00:04:25experiences that I've ever had
00:04:27is listening to myself sing on
00:04:31But did you write the
00:04:33Did you write it so you would
00:04:34force yourself to sing?
00:04:35I wrote it because I thought
00:04:37me trying to sing would be
00:04:39funny and I guess some people
00:04:42may be amused by it and some
00:04:43people might cover their ears
00:04:45and run screaming out of the
00:04:47After viewing the trailer, you
00:04:50know in the process of editing
00:04:52it and so forth, after viewing
00:04:53the trailer by the tenth or
00:04:56fifteenth time I heard myself
00:04:57singing "Roxanne," I just
00:05:00turned the sound off.
00:05:03I mean I couldn't even bare it
00:05:04anymore, but it was fun to do.
00:05:07And the whole movie making
00:05:09process, you know.
00:05:10It's three minutes, three
00:05:12one-minute segments on YouTube
00:05:14and it took about six hours,
00:05:16which is by movie making
00:05:18standards, pretty quick.
00:05:20It's a very meticulous kind of
00:05:21process and I know a lot more
00:05:24about it than I did.
00:05:25I would probably write it
00:05:26differently now if I was going
00:05:27to do it over again.
00:05:28What would be different
00:05:29about it if you were to write
00:05:29it now?
00:05:30I thought a couple of the
00:05:32jokes didn't quite work.
00:05:35I would have to look at it to
00:05:37find specifics.
00:05:38Little ways that the lines,
00:05:40particularly the ones delivered
00:05:42by the other actor.
00:05:44Because I knew how my lines
00:05:46were going to sound coming out
00:05:47of me but I didn't know what
00:05:48his lines were going to sound
00:05:49like until they happened.
00:05:52You say on your blog, "Hey,
00:05:53when did authors go from being
00:05:55faceless loners to being
00:05:57indefatigable, self-promoting
00:05:59public figures with state of
00:06:00the art websites, publicists,
00:06:02booking agents, multimedia
00:06:03presentations, blogs,
00:06:05billboards and coming soon, no
00:06:06doubt, skywriters." So tell me
00:06:09about, as an author, your take
00:06:11on diving into all this.
00:06:12You also say at some point
00:06:14maybe this started with Mark
00:06:15Twain and sort of some of the
00:06:16self-promotion he did.
00:06:18In the time that you've been
00:06:20writing books, has it really
00:06:22You feel like it's very
00:06:23different than it used to be.
00:06:24Yeah, it is.
00:06:27Well when I started publishing,
00:06:28which was in the early 1990s,
00:06:31the main way that books were
00:06:33promoted was through book tours
00:06:35and publishers would sent
00:06:37authors to ten, twenty, thirty,
00:06:39forty, fifty bookstores and
00:06:42people would come in to see the
00:06:44author, to meet the author, and
00:06:45to get their book signed.
00:06:47Well by the end of the 1990s,
00:06:50in fact in 2001, I went to do a
00:06:53book signing in Chicago and my
00:06:56publisher put me up at Four
00:06:58Seasons Hotel and it was all
00:07:00very expensive and I had one
00:07:02book signing in the whole city.
00:07:04I was sure it was going to be
00:07:05packed because I knew I had a
00:07:07lot of readers there and I
00:07:08hadn't been to Chicago in a
00:07:09long time.
00:07:11And I went to the bookstore, it
00:07:13was one of the Barbara's
00:07:15bookstores, and two people
00:07:17showed up.
00:07:21More than anything, I was
00:07:23I was embarrassed because I
00:07:24knew this cost my publisher
00:07:26over a thousand dollars to send
00:07:27me there and to sell two books.
00:07:30So I asked the bookstore owner,
00:07:31I said, "What, is there like a
00:07:34Bears and a Cubs game on the
00:07:37same time today?
00:07:38What's happening?" He said,
00:07:40"Well, we've had thirty-one
00:07:43author appearances at the store
00:07:46this month so far." It was only
00:07:48like the eighteenth of the
00:07:51And what happened was that like
00:07:54any other marketing idea, when
00:07:55everyone's starts doing it,
00:07:58then the public becomes jaded.
00:08:00Another author's in town, oh.
00:08:02Let me know when Justin Bieber
00:08:03shows up.
00:08:09When I first started, that was
00:08:11an effective way to bring books
00:08:12to people and now that's not so
00:08:14true, so people are trying
00:08:15other things.
00:08:17They're trying various
00:08:19Internet-based things like book
00:08:20trailers and blogs and so
00:08:24How do you like doing them?
00:08:27How did you like doing the
00:08:29I loved doing the movie
00:08:31because it was challenging and
00:08:32it was new and it was something
00:08:33that I hadn't done before, and
00:08:34I'm going to do another one.
00:08:35I'm going to do an animated one
00:08:36for The Big Crunch.
00:08:38I'm working on that now.
00:08:40That's your novel that comes
00:08:41out in January?
00:08:42That's in January.
00:08:44And I'm doing an animation that
00:08:45I'm building on my iPad, which
00:08:47is really pretty fun.
00:08:50Is that going to be
00:08:51something that follows along
00:08:52with the book?
00:08:53Does it build on something in
00:08:54the book?
00:08:55Or is it sort of a stand alone
00:08:57with the same characters?
00:09:00Well, the name of the book is
00:09:02The Big Crunch, which is a
00:09:04theoretical, cosmologic event
00:09:06when the Big Bang reverses
00:09:08itself and everything crunches
00:09:09back together.
00:09:10What I'm doing is an animation
00:09:11of the Big Bang and the big
00:09:15We'll see how it works.
00:09:16Do you feel that these
00:09:20things are representing your
00:09:21books clearly or are they just
00:09:23advertisement for it?
00:09:24What's your take on it in terms
00:09:26of art?
00:09:29Well, bottom line is that
00:09:31they're the same thing as when
00:09:32I was four years old and I
00:09:34painted my face with my mom's
00:09:35lipstick and ran around telling
00:09:37everyone to look at me.
00:09:39I don't know if they sell
00:09:45If they do sell books then I'll
00:09:47feel compelled to keep doing
00:09:50more of them, but they're fun.
00:09:55I enjoy it.
00:09:58You know, I couldn't justify
00:10:00the expense of doing the Blank
00:10:01Confession video in terms of
00:10:04the book sales that it's likely
00:10:06to produce, the numbers don't
00:10:07make sense, but in terms of my
00:10:11own experience and keeping
00:10:13myself entertained and maybe
00:10:14entertaining a small group of
00:10:16people that might come across
00:10:17it on the Internet, that's
00:10:19valuable to me.
00:10:21Now you've got a blog that
00:10:22has recipes, discussions of
00:10:24writing, and your favorite
00:10:25one-star reviews of your books
00:10:27on Amazon where people comment
00:10:30on your book who had received
00:10:34it and it had been bent and
00:10:35folded and for this you got a
00:10:37one star.
00:10:39That's right.
00:10:42So it's a really difficult
00:10:43moment for you, I assume.
00:10:44I want to say something
00:10:44about that.
00:10:46That particular one-star review
00:10:49was just, the packaging was
00:10:50just terrible, the cover was
00:10:51bent, so she gives it a
00:10:52one-star review, which possibly
00:10:55impacts the number of books I
00:10:58So I was curious about this
00:10:59person and I went and I looked
00:11:00at her other reviews and she's
00:11:02in the packaging business and
00:11:04all of her reviews have to do
00:11:07with product packaging.
00:11:11Well, you know, how many
00:11:13different kinds of product
00:11:14packaging can you have for
00:11:16That seems sort of an odd
00:11:18I don't know.
00:11:18I'm waiting for the one that's
00:11:19like the clamshell you have to
00:11:21rent a saw to get it open.
00:11:23I think that would be a great
00:11:24way to package books.
00:11:25Well, if you could send it
00:11:26back it might be a good idea if
00:11:27it were that sturdy, if it were
00:11:29reusable book packaging.
00:11:31So does blogging feel like
00:11:33writing to you?
00:11:34Do you feel?
00:11:36Tell me about that.
00:11:37Well, my blog, as you
00:11:40mention, has a lot of different
00:11:41I have some very specific
00:11:44instructions on how to poach
00:11:47I tried some of those
00:11:48instructions, by the way.
00:11:49Did it work?
00:11:50Well, I'm not familiar with
00:11:52poached eggs, I have to start
00:11:53off with saying.
00:11:53But for something I'd never
00:11:55eaten before it was eatable and
00:11:56so I think that it went well
00:11:58and there wasn't a lot of white
00:11:59left in the pan when I was
00:12:02Because I think you
00:12:02recommend stirring it.
00:12:04No, no, no.
00:12:05Do not recommend stirring
00:12:07I knew there was a difference.
00:12:08Stirring is for martinis.
00:12:10Is that a different kind of
00:12:11poached egg?
00:12:15You have a poached egg martini
00:12:16as well?
00:12:17No, but I'm working on a
00:12:18martini recipe and I'll be
00:12:21posting within the next two
00:12:22weeks my hashbrown
00:12:25But the blog is like a
00:12:28Anything that's on my mind is
00:12:30going to go on the blog.
00:12:31It isn't always necessarily
00:12:33It could be cooking stuff,
00:12:36mushrooms I found interesting.
00:12:38I think yesterday morning I
00:12:40blogged about what happened to
00:12:43the pumpkin that was sitting on
00:12:45my front steps when the
00:12:46squirrels found it.
00:12:48Just completely ravaged.
00:12:49There was less than half a
00:12:50pumpkin left, it was
00:12:52I didn't know that
00:12:53squirrels would eat pumpkins.
00:12:54I didn't either and I would
00:12:55have thought it was a deer or
00:12:55something except I saw the
00:12:57squirrel out there on it eating
00:12:59it twice.
00:13:00And there were squirrel tracks
00:13:01going away to it that led you
00:13:02to believe.
00:13:05So there are very important
00:13:06things on my blog.
00:13:07Actually it's kind of like a
00:13:08look into my brain in the most
00:13:10useless way possible.
00:13:13Do you track that?
00:13:14Do you look at the kind of
00:13:15responses you get back from
00:13:16your readers?
00:13:19I like at look at the comments.
00:13:20Every time somebody comments I
00:13:21get a little e-mail.
00:13:24So does that impact you as a
00:13:26You think they like this, I'm
00:13:28going to give them more of this
00:13:29on the blog or maybe I'll talk
00:13:32about poached eggs more in my
00:13:32books or something like that?
00:13:35I'm curious about the feedback
00:13:36to you as a writer.
00:13:38Yeah, it matters to me, it
00:13:39matters to me.
00:13:44If I could say the one more
00:13:45important thing that I came to
00:13:47learn and accept when I was
00:13:49younger when I was first
00:13:49starting writing, was that most
00:13:51writers start out by seeing
00:13:56writing as being a way that
00:13:57they can express themselves,
00:14:00this is kind of what draws them
00:14:01to it and it's only later that
00:14:04they come to the point, not all
00:14:05of them do and not all of them
00:14:06need to, where they say, "Oh,
00:14:08this is an act of
00:14:10This is about the communication
00:14:12and if I write this and nobody
00:14:16reads it, it's almost as though
00:14:16it doesn't exist." Now that's
00:14:18not true in the case of
00:14:20journaling when people write to
00:14:21get their own thoughts sorted
00:14:23out in their own head.
00:14:24But most people that want
00:14:26people to buy their books and
00:14:29read their articles, they come
00:14:31to this realization that this
00:14:33is about communication.
00:14:34So if something doesn't
00:14:36communicate in a way that's
00:14:37satisfying or successful, then
00:14:41it requires some though and
00:14:42some revision.
00:14:43And I'll go back even in
00:14:44something like on my blog and
00:14:45somebody will make a comment
00:14:47and I might go back and change
00:14:48the blog if I feel if I've
00:14:50miscommunicated something.
00:14:52That leads me to one of the
00:14:54questions that I wanted to get
00:14:56to you about, because I think
00:14:57you've already answered it, but
00:14:58I'll see whether I'm right in
00:14:59this one.
00:15:00Your website had "The top ten
00:15:02worst reasons to write a young
00:15:03adult novel," so I'm thinking
00:15:04that your answer for number
00:15:09one: for fame, number two: for
00:15:11fortune, number three: to tell
00:15:12teens how they should act,
00:15:15number four: to tell teens what
00:15:15it was like when you were a
00:15:16kid, and it goes down.
00:15:19So you didn't put down there
00:15:20the ten best reasons to write
00:15:24and the top one seems to be
00:15:25communication for you.
00:15:28Well yeah, but that's not
00:15:30specially a reason to write a
00:15:33YA novel, but it's a specific
00:15:36reason to write.
00:15:37Probably the top reason.
00:15:40I haven't actually edited this
00:15:43down in my head, but probably
00:15:44the main reason that I write YA
00:15:47novels instead of something
00:15:48else is because that's when my
00:15:53reading experiences in my life
00:15:55experience were the most
00:15:57intense and the most memorable.
00:15:59You know, it was those books I
00:16:01read between the ages ten and
00:16:04sixteen probably that had the
00:16:06most impact on me as a writer.
00:16:07It doesn't necessarily relate
00:16:11to the quality of the work
00:16:13I mean I was as profoundly
00:16:13affected by From Russia with
00:16:17Love as I was by The Idiot,
00:16:21which I probably read within a
00:16:26year or two of each other and
00:16:28they both had a big effect on
00:16:30Lord of the Rings was huge, I
00:16:31mean I lived inside that book.
00:16:35I read the whole thing, I went
00:16:36back to the beginning and I
00:16:37read the whole thing again.
00:16:40Well I notice that in some
00:16:41of your stuff because you've
00:16:42got a list of some of the
00:16:45authors that really impacted
00:16:47you and some of the favorite
00:16:49ones are: Octavia Butler,
00:16:51Samuel Delany, J.R.R.
00:16:52Tolkien and I thought I had
00:16:55glommed onto something new
00:16:58because you're starting a
00:16:59sci-fi trilogy, the Klaatu
00:17:00Diskos, which just got picked
00:17:04It will be out in 2012.
00:17:07So I though, oh, you're
00:17:08moving into science fiction
00:17:09from young adult, but rash with
00:17:13What attracts you about science
00:17:13fiction and do you see it as a
00:17:15departure from what you've been
00:17:17doing in young adult?
00:17:20I don't know that I really
00:17:26see it as a departure.
00:17:27I wrote two other sci-fi books
00:17:28before, Mr.
00:17:29Was and Hole in the Sky, which
00:17:30were very different kinds of
00:17:32science fiction.
00:17:34Hole in the Sky was an
00:17:36after-the-apocalypse type
00:17:38science fiction, after most of
00:17:40the people in the world are
00:17:40dead and how the survivors get
00:17:44Was was a very personal little
00:17:47time travel story.
00:17:50Klaatu Diskos is another time
00:17:51travel story and it feels
00:17:54pretty much the same to me as
00:17:57other writing that I've done.
00:17:59I'm also working on a fantasy,
00:18:03working on a book with elves
00:18:08because I really, really want
00:18:09to write about elves.
00:18:11I didn't know if you meant
00:18:12as co-writers with the elves or
00:18:14what because that's the Tolkien
00:18:16influence, which I didn't mean
00:18:18to sort of lump in with Butler
00:18:20and Delany.
00:18:21My elves are nasty.
00:18:24Tolkien's elves have some good
00:18:26personal qualities.
00:18:27My elves have no good personal
00:18:30Why is that?
00:18:30What made you decide elves were
00:18:32I introduced them into the
00:18:34story and they started doing
00:18:36these really mean things and
00:18:38they just sort of evolved that
00:18:41Walk me through a day of
00:18:42writing for you.
00:18:43A day of writing?
00:18:43A day of writing.
00:18:44And tell me what makes it a
00:18:45successful day.
00:18:47Well, coffee first and then
00:18:52I sit down and look at what
00:18:55I've been working on.
00:18:56I'm usually working on several
00:18:57novels, not simultaneously, but
00:19:02in any given week I'll probably
00:19:03work on three different books
00:19:05at one time or another.
00:19:06And I'll decide what I want to
00:19:07work on and I'll usually type
00:19:11something, a page or two, I'll
00:19:14look at it, I'll go back, I'll
00:19:16rewrite what serves me as an
00:19:17outline because what I just
00:19:19wrote completely screws up what
00:19:21I thought I was going to do.
00:19:24It's a lot of back and forth.
00:19:26Then I'll lay down on the sofa
00:19:28and I'll close my eyes and I'll
00:19:29think for a little bit,
00:19:30sometimes I fall asleep,
00:19:31sometimes I wake up and I write
00:19:32some more.
00:19:34Sometimes I go for a walk, but
00:19:35it kind of goes in like little
00:19:38spurts through the day.
00:19:40A successful day of writing is,
00:19:43well there are two kinds.
00:19:43There's one when I write a
00:19:45bunch of pages and to me a
00:19:46bunch of pages would be more
00:19:47than three, almost never more
00:19:51than seven or eight in a day.
00:19:54And that feels good because I
00:19:55have achieved mass.
00:19:57I have increased the mass, the
00:20:00subjective, the theoretical
00:20:03mass of the manuscript.
00:20:05The other kind of successful
00:20:06day is when I figure something
00:20:09out about a story and I go,
00:20:10"ohhh yeah.
00:20:14I can make Darth Vader Luke's
00:20:15father." You know, when
00:20:18something clicks and comes
00:20:20together and a story wraps back
00:20:21on itself and all of a sudden.
00:20:22Because as I'm writing I'll
00:20:24have all these little threads,
00:20:26like Mary and I read all of
00:20:28each other's work and so she
00:20:30was reading the first volume of
00:20:34Klaatu Diskos and she says,
00:20:35"Why do you have this character
00:20:36Will in here?
00:20:37He doesn't need to be there."
00:20:39And I go, "Well I'm saving
00:20:41him," and she goes, "Well what
00:20:42for?" I said, "I don't know
00:20:45yet, you know.
00:20:47But he's there if I need him
00:20:49and I mention him from time to
00:20:51time," and I said, "Maybe in
00:20:51book two he's going to become
00:20:53important" and she said, "What
00:20:55if he doesn't?" and I said,
00:20:56"Well then I'll go back and
00:20:57take him out of book one." It's
00:21:01like all these little threads
00:21:02and trying to have them touch
00:21:03each other in ways that feel
00:21:07So I can have a day where I
00:21:09have negative, where I actually
00:21:11delete three pages instead of
00:21:12write three pages.
00:21:14And if I figure something out
00:21:15that I feel improves the shape
00:21:18and the strength of the story,
00:21:20then that would be a successful
00:21:22It's also a successful day if I
00:21:24get a big check in the mail.
00:21:25I'm looking for those days
00:21:27as well, if you could help me
00:21:28out with that I would really
00:21:29appreciate it.
00:21:31You've talked about you said
00:21:33'read each other's work" Mary
00:21:37You read each other's work.
00:21:38And you also co-authored some
00:21:39of these mysteries together.
00:21:40Tell me the difference between,
00:21:42I assume it's quantitative, the
00:21:45difference between reading each
00:21:47other's stuff and commenting on
00:21:48it and writing together.
00:21:50How do you work those
00:21:52Well, Mary and I knew each
00:21:56other as members of a critique
00:21:57group before we became
00:21:59romantically involved.
00:22:02So we've related as writers
00:22:05ever since we met, pretty much.
00:22:05But reading each other's
00:22:09Like if I read her manuscript I
00:22:11might make ten or twelve marks
00:22:14per page, a lot of times
00:22:17questioning word choices
00:22:18saying, "Wow, that's really
00:22:19nice," various kinds of
00:22:23The co-authoring was very
00:22:25We went into it blind, we just
00:22:29started writing.
00:22:31And we had two characters, a
00:22:32boy and a girl and originally
00:22:34we thought she'd write the girl
00:22:36and I'd write the boy, but by
00:22:38the time we had ten pages
00:22:39written we were stepping all
00:22:40over each other.
00:22:41You know, I was re-writing her
00:22:43boy stuff, she was re-writing
00:22:45my girl stuff and she would
00:22:47write two scenes, one from the
00:22:48boy's point of view and one
00:22:49from the girl's point of view
00:22:50and then I'd tear her scene in
00:22:52half and I'd add something
00:22:54By the time we finished the
00:22:55book, eighty percent of that
00:22:58book I couldn't tell you who
00:23:00wrote a particular scene.
00:23:03Some of them I remember writing
00:23:04and some of them I remember her
00:23:06writing, but it was a very
00:23:07organic back and forth process
00:23:09with a lot of re-writing and I
00:23:12would say it wasn't painful.
00:23:14It wasn't so bad emotionally, I
00:23:16mean it wasn't like we were
00:23:16fighting, but it's just hard to
00:23:19have your writing stepped on
00:23:20every day, even if it's getting
00:23:21stepped on in a good way.
00:23:24Is that how you describe it
00:23:24to each other, "you've been
00:23:26stepping on my writing," or
00:23:28"you've been working with my
00:23:29writing, I appreciate what
00:23:31you've done." You said you're
00:23:33not fighting, but that's the
00:23:34moment that it becomes the
00:23:36difficult negotiation because
00:23:39what if she's got something she
00:23:40really liked written and you
00:23:43change it?
00:23:43How do you negotiate that with
00:23:45Well, neither Mary nor I
00:23:50have a big attachment to
00:23:55particular words and sentences
00:23:57and things.
00:24:00We're both extremely receptive
00:24:02to editorial input.
00:24:04There are times when she will
00:24:08suggest something to me and I
00:24:09will ignore her and times when
00:24:11I'll suggest something to her
00:24:11and she'll ignore me, but
00:24:14they're few and far between.
00:24:17Is she also an outliner when
00:24:18she writes?
00:24:20I mean, you said you will
00:24:21discard your outlines.
00:24:23I'm curious how often those
00:24:24outlines in your head.
00:24:26Well when I see an outline,
00:24:28like an outline for the Klaatu
00:24:30Diskos, which is going to run
00:24:32about nine hundred pages I
00:24:33think, is about three pages
00:24:38So it's very, very, very loose
00:24:41and Mary's pretty much the same
00:24:44I have a good friend who writes
00:24:47mysteries whose outline goes to
00:24:49forty pages for a
00:24:51seventy-thousand-word book and
00:24:54he'll work for months on the
00:24:57outline and then he'll write
00:24:58the book in a month.
00:25:00He actually spends more time
00:25:01planning it.
00:25:02I mean he's got it right down
00:25:03to the chapter breaks and
00:25:05exactly what happens in each
00:25:07Man, I have tried to work that
00:25:08way and I cannot do it, I don't
00:25:09know why.
00:25:10It makes sense.
00:25:12If you have the kind of mind
00:25:14that can do that, you know,
00:25:15that can create a story like
00:25:16that and then actually follow
00:25:17your own outline without
00:25:19letting a bunch of.
00:25:21I mean if I was doing that some
00:25:23character would walk in and say
00:25:25something to totally destroy
00:25:27the rest of the outline by page
00:25:30But can't you get rid of the
00:25:31character then?
00:25:32Why is it that you're holding
00:25:33on to the character if that
00:25:34happens and you recognize that
00:25:36What makes you value that
00:25:37character over the outline that
00:25:40you have?
00:25:40Well some characters are
00:25:41more fun to spend time with
00:25:43than others.
00:25:44If I've got two characters
00:25:46having a conversation and
00:25:47they're moving the story
00:25:49forward in their conversation,
00:25:50they're having coffee and
00:25:51they're figuring something out
00:25:52and then for some reason I
00:25:54decide their friend Chuck
00:25:55should walk into the room and
00:25:57say or do something really
00:26:00interesting or outrageous,
00:26:03instead of going, "I have to
00:26:03get rid of Chuck," where my
00:26:04mind goes is, "How can I take
00:26:06this outrageous thing and make
00:26:08it work further down the story?
00:26:09How can I weave it in?
00:26:11How can I make this as
00:26:12complicated and difficult and
00:26:14maddening as I possibly can?"
00:26:19Why do you think that appeals
00:26:20to you?
00:26:20Why do you think that sense of
00:26:21maddening and difficult
00:26:23plotting appeals to you?
00:26:25Is it a challenge to see if you
00:26:27can get yourself out of it?
00:26:28The challenge is certainly
00:26:29part of it.
00:26:30Stubbornness is also part of
00:26:35If I have an idea to hang a
00:26:46painting on a wall and there's
00:26:48no stud where I want to hang
00:26:50the painting, it's like I'm the
00:26:51kind of person who will tear
00:26:52the wall down and put a new
00:26:53stud up or hang the painting
00:26:54where I want it.
00:26:56It's not a personality trait
00:26:57that is particularly useful to
00:26:59me and I can't recommend it to
00:27:02But it goes over well in the
00:27:03writing of books, it helps.
00:27:05Well it works for me.
00:27:07It took me a long time to
00:27:08figure out how to do it.
00:27:09I mean I was trying to write
00:27:11books for twenty years before I
00:27:13succeeded, so it took a long
00:27:14time for me to figure out how
00:27:15to work around who I am.
00:27:25Last question, in thirty
00:27:27seconds, who are the authors
00:27:29that most influence you when
00:27:31you're writing?
00:27:33Who do you think of when you're
00:27:34You have a very long list on
00:27:35your website.
00:27:36Well I think of P.G.
00:27:39I think of James M.
00:27:45I think of Elmore Leonard.
00:27:50Actually Elmore Leonard was
00:27:52probably one of the biggest
00:27:56influences on me writing work
00:27:57that was publishable.
00:27:59Well, I want thank you very
00:28:02much for being here on Writers
00:28:04My pleasure.
00:28:04And from the Center for the
00:28:05Study and Teaching of Writing
00:28:06at The Ohio State University
00:28:07this is Doug Dangler saying,
00:28:08keep writing.
Note : Transcripts are compiled from uncorrected captions