Ask Me Anything 2017: What’s the best writing advice I’ve gotten from a fellow author?


LaEmgee asks:

Will you please come see us in Chicago? On book tour or otherwise?

Dan nudges:

I second that emotion.

I love Chicago. I was reminded exactly how much I love it this past autumn. While preparing to interview Sara Paretsky, I looked up V.I. Warshawski’s northside neighborhood — and realized that I’d lived in it the summer I worked in Chicago during law school. When I checked Google Street View, I saw that the neighborhood is all spiffed up, leafy green, full of bistros and coffee bars; a far cry from the creaking row of apartment buildings where my roommate and I spent sweltering evenings outside on the stoop because we had no air conditioning.


Have I distracted you enough?

Real answer: I hope to come to Chicago on book tour or for a conference. I don’t know my schedule this summer yet, but if I can make it to the Windy City you’ll be the first to know.

Dan also asks:

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten from a fellow author?

Here are two pieces of advice that have stuck with me.

From mystery author Leonard Tourney: Create sympathetic characters and put them in jeopardy.

That about sums up what you need to know about kicking off a novel.

From Stephen King — of course — in On Writing:

There is a muse, but he’s not going to come fluttering down into your writing room and scatter creative fairy-dust all over your typewriter or computer. He lives in the ground. He’s a basement kind of guy. You have to descend to his level, and once you get down there you have to furnish an apartment for him to live in. You have to do all the grunt labor, in other words, while the muse sits and smokes cigars and admires his bowling trophies and pretends to ignore you. Do you think it’s fair? I think it’s fair.

If you want to write the stuff that matters, that excites and thrills, that resonates, that chills and grabs you by the heart and throat: Go down to the basement. Dig. Bring it all up. That’s the only way your work will be fully creative and emotionally honest.

Photo: Julia Robson

One response to “Ask Me Anything 2017: What’s the best writing advice I’ve gotten from a fellow author?

  1. Too cool. Thanks, Meg!

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