In Their Words: Keith R. A. DeCandido (part 1)

Keith DeCandido
Last month, one of my favorite authors, Keith R. A. DeCandido, took some time away from writing books to answer some questions for me. Here’s part one of our emailed interview. (The intro is here. Part 2 is here.)
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What question are you never, or rarely, asked in interviews, that you really wish people would ask? How would you answer it?

“How do you make your hair look like that?” To which I’d answer: NOTHING! I just shampoo it once a day and brush it! It’s like this naturally! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Conversely, what question are you often asked, that you really don’t like to answer? What don’t you like about that question (no, you don’t have to answer it)?

“Why should I bother reading your books when they aren’t canon?” People who stress out over what’s “real” in a fictional construct need to be beaten over the head with croquet mallets.

Who in your life was/is the greatest influence – good or bad – on your writing?
God, I don’t think I could narrow it down to one. If I had to pick someone, I’d say P.G. Wodehouse, who wrote the best dialogue on the face of the planet, and I think my greatest strength as a writer is in dialogue, which I think I owe in part to early exposure to Wodehouse.

Do you write in longhand first, or do you compose at the keyboard? Tell us about your preferred pens, ink, paper, or platform and program.

The Laptop Is Life. I hatehatehatehatehatehatehatehate! writing by hand. I try to only write by hand when I sign things. (You can imagine what a nightmare it was when I arrived at JFK preparing to fly to San Diego for Comic-Con and discovered that I somehow forgot to pack my laptop—and I had a novel due the next week. I wrote three or four chapters by hand in a notebook, a nightmarish experience I hope never to repeat.) I use Microsoft Word on my Dell Inspiron E1705 laptop.

What do you consider a “full day’s work” of writing? Do you measure by number of hours, or number of words? Do you spend time doing mundane chores so that you don’t have to write?

I could actually afford to spend more time doing mundane chores, but what I consider a full day varies wildly from day to day, and depends on what stage I’m at for a particular project or set of projects, and what those deadlines are. I try to never miss a deadline, and I generally don’t miss them by much.

What are you reading these days? Or, what types of things do you like to read when you have time?

Most of my writing time gets sucked up by reading things I’m editing or things I have to read for research. When I can squeeze in pleasure reading, it’s often a variety of genre material (SF/F, mystery). I also like reading books about baseball. Lately, I’ve been on a George Pelecanos kick, and I’m also a huge Janet Evanovich fan…

Got tunes? What’s flowing from your headphones or speakers while you write?
In 2002, I discovered that I write best to Jethro Tull and Tom Waits. Dunno why, but there it is. I have a “writing” playlist on iTunes that runs when I write, which includes Tull, Waits, Ian Anderson solo material, plus a few other things that work well writing-wise (Robbie Robertson, The Band, Cat Stevens).

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Keith can be found on the net at his website, and his livejournal KRAD’s Inaccurate Guide to Life.
(The intro is here. Part 2 is here.)