There are a number of new writers releasing debut novels in the year 2009, all of which I am really looking forward to reading.
After all, reading new talent and being the first to tout it to friends and fellow readers is fun!
Peter V. Brett is one of those writers with his novel, The Warded Man.
As Peter finishes the last few chapters of the sequel to The Warded Man, tentatively titled The Desert Spear, he took the time to humor me and answer a few questions for Unbound Worlds! More questions to come as the US release of The Warded Man nears, I’m sure.
Here is Five Questions with Peter V. Brett! Enjoy!
Unbound Worlds: When did you start writing? Why do you write?
Peter V. Brett: I’ve always liked to make up stories. My GI Joe and Star Wars action figures used to have elaborately plotted adventures complete with mind games, witty banter, betrayal, and divided loyalties. For a while in my early teens I wanted to be a comic book artist, but if you look back at my work from those days, I really just loved make up superheroes/villains, draw pin-ups of them like in the old Marvel Universe books, and then write ten pages of backstory. And don’t even get me started on the D&D campaigns I used to make up. Epic.
I think having a creative outlet is an essential part of one’s well-being. We live in a society with so much input that it’s easy to just sit back and receive without putting anything back out, but I believe we do ourselves a disservice when we do. I’ve always found that I was generally happier and more successful during the periods of my life when I was writing than those when I took a break from it.
UW: Describe your writing day? How many words/pages do you write a day on average? Breaks? How much time do you spend editing and how do you go about it?
PVB: Ha. The answer to this question changes continually. Two years ago, my writing day consisted of getting on the F train from Brooklyn to Times Square, snagging a seat even if it meant shoving aside an 80 year old pregnant woman, and then thumb-writing on my smartphone. The trip was 45 minutes each way, and I could usually write about 350 words in that time. On a good day, I wrote each way on the subway and maybe 2-3 hours a night, usually after my wife had gone to bed.
Last year, when I was writing full time and not yet a parent, I kept writing on the phone, but I would do it in the park or at the library, coupled with a few hours every day at my desk. Ah, bliss.
Currently, working at home with my 6 month old daughter and wife in our two-bedroom apartment in winter, writing during daylight hours has become effectively impossible, so I have shifted to a 10PM – 4AM writing schedule, because it’s the only time of day I can be guaranteed not to be disturbed, save for the occasional e-mail from a foreign publisher or fan.
Regardless of which period you choose, though, I always kept the same writing quota of 1,000 words a day, seven days a week, or 7,000 words a week. Some days I write a lot, and others not at all, but on average it comes out to about that.
Editing is in addition to the word count, and I do it constantly. Every day when I sit to work on a chapter, I read from the beginning of the chapter to where I left off in order to get back in the groove, and edit as I go. Sometimes it takes me hours to get to writing new prose because I am not happy with how the chapter is flowing and am editing heavily. I spend FAR more time editing than I do writing, and that’s even before I let anyone else read it and consider their suggestions.
UW: How many books did you write before you signed your first book contract? How did you get that contract? Via agent? Industry friend? Writer’s retreat? Slushpile? Other?
PVB: The Warded Man is technically my fifth book, though one of those was a 40K travesty I wrote in High School and another was only half-finished. So it’s more like my third real, finished novel. I tend to learn a lot with every book I write, and approach the next one with more confidence.
As for how I came to be published, the short version is that I met Joshua Bilmes of JABberwocky Literary Agency at a SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America) mill & swill that I was attending with my friend and fellow SF writer Myke Cole. I sent Joshua my second novel, which he did not agree to represent, and my third, which he did.
The next thing I knew, I was signing three-book deals on five continents and writing full time. Still hard to believe it.
For the long version, you can visit Peephole in my Skull, my blog, http://www.petervbrett.com/peephole/, and read my full path from hobby writer to published author, seeing my thoughts along the way.
UW: What advice would you give beginning writers? What is the best way to break into the industry?
PVB: There’s one surefire way to get published, and that is to write well. The best way to learn to do that is to write all the time and constantly strive to improve your craft. Learn your strengths and build on them. Find your weaknesses and confront them. Let others read your work, and embrace the critics, even when you don’t always agree with them. You’re going to need a tough skin and they will help you get it.
Don’t try and sell an idea for a book, or part of a book. Finish your damn book and prove you can. When you have written and rewritten it all the way through, making it as good as you possibly can, you will already be ahead of 95% of aspiring authors, and can then begin to confidently and professionally approach agents and editors to look at your work.
Oh, and read Writing to Sell, by Scott Meredith. Learn the rules before you start breaking them.
UW: What are you currently working on? When can we expect it?
PVB: I am almost finished with my next novel, The Desert Spear, which is the sequel to The Warded Man, which was released in the UK in September 2008 as The Painted Man, and which releases here in the US on March 10, 2009. The Desert Spear, or TDS, as I lovingly refer to it in text messages, will be released in the UK from Harper Voyager in August 2009, and from Del Rey Books in December.
Definitely visit Peter at his website www.PeterVBrett.com! The Warded Man will be released in the US on March 10, 2009. Peter will be attending the 2009 NY Comic Con next week where he will be signing Advanced Reading Copies of The Warded Man for those who stop by the Del Rey booth! So come meet the author of The Warded Man if you can!
Thank you, Peter, for the Five Questions! More soon!