"Robert Liparulo starts off with a bang and then lulls us momentarily with well-modeled and sympathetic characters before he drops these totally likeable characters into a series of harrowing confrontations. Some of the fights involving razor-edged weapons manage to be excruciatingly wince-inducing while remaining truly entertaining. This is what is meant by guilty fun."—Larry Hama, writer, Marvel Comics’ G.I. Joe and Wolverine
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WHAT ARE YOUR WRITING HABITS?
I usually do research for the first hour or two, then write from mid-morning to mid- or late-afternoon. I tend to edit as I write, so what comes out is close to what the final draft will be. Later, I’ll tighten and make sure the big-picture stuff works. But the sentence construction is pretty much finished for each day’s work.
I try not to let interruptions break into the world I’m creating while I write. I disconnect the phone and don’t check email. If I run into something I need to research, even if it’s just to make sure I’m using the right word, I’ll flag it and keep writing. Then in the evening or the next morning, I’ll take care of the flagged parts.
While I write, I listen to music on a set of Bose noise-eliminating headphones. No distractions. My favorite music to write to is soundtracks: Last of the Mohicans, The Mission, Glory, Gladiator. Kill Bill, if I’m writing fast-paced action.
ARE YOU AN "OUTLINE" WRITER OR A "MAKE IT UP AS YOU GO" WRITER?
Both. My plots tend to be pretty intricate. I like to get my characters in really tight spots that appear impossible to escape, and I don’t want the solution to feel fabricated; I don’t want to break the rules I established getting the characters in trouble in the first place. So I need to plot it out carefully to make sure everything makes sense and the characters stay true to themselves: No escape hatches simply appear, no weapons or rescuers materialize out of thin air.
At the same time, I believe the characters really do take on a life of their own, and writers need to let them guide the story somewhat. If I outlined a scene a month ago and when I get to it I realize the character would never get himself into that particular predicament or would never behave the way I planned, then I have to let the character tell me what he would do instead. Sometimes that changes the direction of the story completely.
ARE YOU A FULL-TIME NOVELIST?
Yes, as of mid-2005. Prior to that, I wrote articles for national publications— celebrity profiles and interviews, business and relationship articles, investigative pieces. I have to point out that a “full-time novelist” doesn’t only write. There’s a lot of marketing and publicity that goes into making sure your books get noticed, especially when you’re just getting started. Setting up a website, doing interviews, attending conferences, visiting bookstores. The marketing part of the business is a full-time job by itself.
HOW MANY BOOKS DID YOU HAVE TO WRITE BEFORE YOU WERE ABLE TO GO FULL-TIME? (WHEN DID YOU KNOW YOU HAD "MADE IT"?)
Well, I don’t think I’ve “made it,” and I hope I never feel I have. Success, if that’s what “made it” means, is a journey. I hope I die on that journey and never stand on the pinnacle wondering what to do next. As far as the number of books I wrote before being able to concentrate on novel writing, the answer is one. Then my publisher offered me a long-term contract that allowed me to focus exclusively on novels. I’m very grateful for their faith in me.
WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Neil Gaiman said it best: “Write. Finish things.”
I think the number one obstacle to publication is not completing a manuscript. I know a lot of wannabe writers who have six, seven partial manuscripts in a drawer. They think publishers want to see a lot of ideas, but more important to the publisher is a writer’s ability to complete at least one good story.
Bringing a big project like a novel to completion is a milestone. It breaks down this monstrous wall that separates the wannabes from the doers. Once that wall comes down, the next one is easier.
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Come back Monday for the conclusion of our Q&A. Find Comes a Horseman at Amazon.com and many other fine retailers. Find the author online at his official site.
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 1
ROBERT LIPARULO, PT 3
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