introducing readers to writers since 1995

August 10, 2005

Author2Author: Adrienne Brodeur &
Amanda Filipacchi, pt. 2

by Ron Hogan

Adrienne Brodeur: As a writer with a great deal more experience than I have--you've been writing since you were a teenager, have an MFA, and have published three novels--can you tell me a bit about how your process/method has changed (or not) as you've matured? Are you disciplined and methodical, getting up every morning with the sun and staying at your desk until 3 p.m.? Or do you write in bursts as the muse speaks to you? Has your approach to each novel been similar?

lovecreeps.jpgAmanda Filipacchi: I'm always trying to make myself write more, better and faster. But I'm still perfecting my ways of doing that! I'm constantly creating and testing different methods of discipline, different writing schedules, and then writing reports on each method, detailing how each one failed, its pros and cons, and any side effects, such as depression, sleepiness, etc. Maybe one day I should publish a self-help book for writers on all the writing methods I've invented that might work better for others than they did for me. For example, one method consists of only allowing myself to eat chocolate while I write. That method works pretty well, but not well enough, obviously. One well-known writer only allowed himself to turn on the heat in his freezing house while he was writing, which encouraged him to write a lot. I was at Yaddo one summer, working on Vapor, and I was going through a phase of having a whole elaborate setup for when I wrote. I would have a green light, and would burn oils (usually something pleasant like grapefruit or orange or lemon), and I'd place an electric fan behind the oils, and it would blow the scent of the oil in my face while I wrote. And the room would be dark except for the green light, and music would be playing. I showed a fellow writer my setup and told him not to tell anyone, and then the next morning the other writers at Yaddo were asking me to show them my setup.

Then there's the question of how I approach the actual writing of each novel. Recently, readers have been e-mailing me through my website, asking, "Why does it take you six years to write a book? Are we going to have to wait another six years before the next one?" Part of the reason it takes me so long to write each book is I'm very thorough. I make lists of every possibility for every aspect of the novel, including plot, characters, scenes, settings, motivations, character traits--everything. And when I come up with an idea I like, I don't settle on it immediately, I keep on thinking of every other possibility to make absolutely sure there isn't one that's even better. When there is, it's like discovering a treasure. I usually have hundreds of pages of notes before I even begin the actual writing of each novel.

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