OFF THE PAGE: Laurell K. Hamilton

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Hi Writers,
I adore having this blog. For one thing it gives me infinite space for all of the things I'd like to fit in the magazine. But of course, there are space constraints we magazine editors are up against.

With that I'd like to bring you an outtake of an interview I conducted with horror/fantasy writer Laurell K. Hamilton, author of the Anita Blake vampire series and the Merry Gentry fantasy series. Our WD Interviews often involve 2 or more hour long phone conversations. When transcribed this translates into more than 10,000 words and a 6-page feature typically clocks in at about 3,000.

So here's what won't make it into print. For the complete interview with Laurell K. Hamilton, you can pick up our April 2008 Genre Fiction issue, available on newsstands next February (I know, it's crazy how far ahead we magazine folk work).

Here's what Laurell K. Hamilton has to say about blogging:

You have a great blog. Why do you blog, and how do you fit it into your routine?
The blog is something I do first thing in the morning before I’ve done any writing, or last thing at the end of the day after I’ve done my writing. If I make a commitment to do something I try to do it well. I can’t just say well, there’s not time for writing today, the blog included. But I was a little confused about the blog when it first started. It feels private like a diary. It’s a very interesting form of writing. I went back to read essay writers. E.B. White is one of my favorite writers, he was an early influence on me. He’d done a series of essays for The New Yorker, I got that collection. I look at the blog as a collection of essays.

So you hadn’t done any essay writing previously?
Oh, I hate writing essays! They’re one of the hardest things for me to write because I have trouble writing short. Writers usually have one kind or another that they’re good at. Some people are absolutely amazing essay writers and a short piece is where they shine. Other people are good at short stories and novels. Novels are where I’m comfortable; I like huge works. So the blog was very difficult at first. But I’ve gotten better at it and more comfortable with it. I think having to do the blog on a regular basis, has helped me have more economy with language, which I think is always a good lesson for a writer to re-learn—especially a writer who has been successful, because they don’t edit you as you become successful. So it’s up to the writer to re-learn that economy of form.

What was the purpose of starting your blog: To keep in touch with your fans? Or was it more of a personal thing for you?
The helping the writing was an unexpected side-effect. It truthfully helped with writing the comic version of Guilty Pleasures and my husband Jonathan and I had a comic script. That actually helped me with the economy of language because you only have so many pages, but it was additionally to give something to the fans. Something that they could look at in between books. And also it was to help promote and keep the name out there. I cannot put a book out a month. So the blog is a way to let people know what I’m doing, to keep interest up, and also to give them something in between book releases so they can get a glimpse into it. Some fans said I write more detail about how I write the books than other people do.

I’d agree with that. There’s a lot about your process in your blog.
That’s how I learned, by reading other writers talk about how they write. It’s not a competition. There’s never enough good books out there. So if it can help people learn how to do it then great. But the writing process is individual. The fans seem very interested, though, even if they don’t want to write. They’re interested in how people write—it just fascinates people. To me it’s my job. But because I understand that since that’s the question I get asked most, I try to put in the blog what I’m writing, my schedule, etc. and I also try to explain how I come up with unique ideas. And that is the hardest thing actually: uniqueness. There are two things I don’t think can be taught, and those are the things you need most if you’re going to have a career. You need to find your unique voice and you need a unique vision.

Keep Writing,
Maria

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