Author Squared: Spencer Quinn and Peter Abrahams
Two Authors chat about writing, books, and everthing in between...
I am excited to welcome Spencer Quinn, author of The Dog Who Knew Too Much, and Peter Abrahams, author of Quacky Baseball, to One the Bookcase!
Take it away guys!
Spencer Quinn: I’ve written four novels. You’ve written twenty-three. Can you say something about your writing process?
Peter Abrahams: No.
Spencer Quinn: Why not?
Peter Abrahams: I’ve never understood why anyone would be interested in a writer’s process. Do we ask the plumber about his process? Just get that drain unblocked!
Spencer Quinn: Interesting. Is there a hidden implication in there that the drain-unblocking process and the writing process are similar?
Peter Abrahams: I’m not denying it. You really want to know my method? It starts with an idea that comes out of the blue. I ignore it until it won’t go away. Then – and this is usually in the shower, something amniotic going on when it comes to gestating stories – the shape of the novel occurs to me, also pretty much out of the blue. Over the next several days, the beginning, a few big scenes along the way, and the possibility of an ending – not the exact ending, only a realization that the story is resolveable, come shouldering in. By this point, some conscious work is happening, but in the writing game (as my grandmother called it, as in “How’s the writing game and when are you going to law school?”) the more unconscious or subconscious work that goes on the better. Then, one morning, I sit down, take a deep breath, and write that first sentence – always a very important sentence, like lighting a fuse. [ed. – for example, here is the first sentence of Abrahams’ End of Story (2006): “’How is going the writing?’ said Dragan Karodojic.”] I work just about every day, my goal being 1000 words, and not just any words higgledy-piggledy, but the 1000 words as they will appear in the published book. Many – even most – days I don’t reach that goal, but I always get something done.
Spencer Quinn: So you’ve never had writer’s block?
Peter Abrahams: That’s the virtue of always getting something done. You’re in a new place every day, always advancing the story. Advance the story, both from within and without!
Spencer Quinn: You’re starting to sound a bit guru-like.
Peter Abrahams: Then I’ll stop. How about you? What’s your M.O.?
Spencer Quinn: I channel the voice of Chet.
Peter Abrahams: The dog narrator of the Chet and Bernie mystery series.
Spencer Quinn: Yes. He can’t talk or do anything un-dog-like, but he has a narrative in his head and that’s what’s on the page.
Peter Abrahams: And when you’re channeling him, as you put it, does he ever surprise you?
Spencer Quinn: All the time. He sometimes makes me laugh out loud, although I shouldn’t admit it.
Peter Abrahams: You’re among friends. What have you got going now?
Spencer Quinn: I’m working on the fifth Chet and Bernie novel, the follow-up to The Dog Who Knew Too Much. Chet and Bernie are hired to keep an eye on a troubled movie star who turns out to have a troubling past. He also has a very self-satisfied cat named Brando. How about you?
Peter Abrahams: Robbie Forester and the Outlaws of Sherwood Street, first in my new middle-grade series, comes out January 2012. I’m at work on the second. Robbie is a twelve-year-old Robin Hood in contemporary Brooklyn. I tried some paranormal for the first time.
Spencer Quinn: Fun?
Peter Abrahams: Yes, but it’s not a license to do any old thing you want with the plot. Quite the opposite.
Spencer Quinn: Care to expand on that?
Peter Abrahams: No. I've got tennis in half an hour.
Spencer Quinn: You play? So do I! We'll have to get on a court together someday.
Peter Abrahams: I'm pretty booked.
Thanks Spencer and Peter!
Spencer Quinn lives on Cape Cod with his dog, Audrey. He is currently working on the next Chet and Bernie novel.
Peter Abrahams is an American writer of crime thrillers. His works include Oblivion, TheTutor, The Fury of Rachel Monette, Hard Rain, The Fan , Crying Wolf, Last of the Dixie Heroes, the Echo Falls Mysteries, and Lights Out, the last of which was nominated for an Edgar Award for best novel. His literary influences are Vladimir Nabokov, Graham Greene and Ross Macdonald. Stephen King has referred to him as "my favorite American suspense novelist". Born in Boston, Abrahams previously lived in Ottawa and worked as a CBC television producer. He is currently living in Falmouth, Massachusetts on Cape Cod with his wife and children.