In Their Words: Colleen Gleason (Part 1)

Intro | Part Two
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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?

Hmm. I really can’t think of anything that I haven’t been asked. I must have good interviewers.

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)?

How are sales/how’s the book doing–mainly because, unless the book hits a best-seller list, it’s pretty hard to tell how a book is really doing (and what does that mean, anyway?) for at least a year. It’s a nebulous question, and there’s not an easy answer.

Who in your life was/is the greatest influence – good or bad – on your writing?

I think my agent had a big hand in helping me to get my writing to a different level. When she first took me on, I was writing well, and that’s why she wanted to work with me. But we had several conversations about–literally about–word choices. Very specific ones, and those conversations helped me to see a fairly simple but effective way to bring my writing to another level. It sounds like such a small thing, but in a way, it was a big thing.

I’ve also been influenced by my favorite authors, because I see their techniques and learn from them, using and adapting to fit my own stories, as far as craft goes.

And other big influences are my two critique partners, who read everything I write, every week, and really support and motivate me to keep writing. They’re tough, and they know their stuff. I don’t think I’d be here without them.

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.

I write everything in Word on my Macbook. Then I transfer it to my iMac and fine-tune it. I write one draft, massaging, muscling it into shape as I write–instead of writing one complete draft, then going back over it. I’m constantly editing/rewriting, tweaking, fine-tuning. At the end of the book, I do make a final pass for things like consistencies…but usually that’s pretty minor, since I’ve been pounding the book into shape all along.

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 am a great procrastinator! (I think many writers are.) There are so many other fun things to do on the computer besides write–read/answer fan mails, emails from my editor or agent, blogging, “researching” on the Internet, reading gossip columns (ahem). And if I’m sitting at my computer, I’m at least “at work” even if I’m not working.

So, I usually do a great deal of writing away from my desktop, and on my laptop, in a place where I can’t get internet. I often sit in restaurants and/or coffee shops and put my earphones in and plug away, without distractions.

As for a full day’s work…well, I like to try for 5 pages a day, but at the beginning of the book, I definitely chalk up fewer pages. But I make up for it when I get near the end, sometimes doing 10-20 pages in a day.

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Intro | Part Two