Is writing a full-time job for you?
It is. I split my time between do arts-and-entertainment journalism and book-writing.
How do you write? Do you plan out the entire book before you start or do you plan as you write?
I outline a plot and work up sketches (in word form, of course) of my characters. I also jot down a few themes I want to try to put across. That all goes out the window, though, when I start writing; things tend to take on a life of their own as the drafting progresses.
Do you have a set time to write each day? Or do you only write when inspiration hits?
I absolutely have to set aside time to write each day, and I often have to give myself deadlines-within-deadlines. If Iím not feeling inspired, I may take a break, but I have to push through. And when inspiration hits, Iíve got to ride it like a bucking bronco.
How long did it take you to write Taft 2012?
A year, on and off.
How much research did you have to do?
Quite a bit; I didnít know much about Taft when I started the project. That said, I was wary of doing too much research. If Iíd tried to cram every piece of Taft trivia I could find into the book, it would have been a slog to read.
What doors has your writing opened up for you? Have there been opportunities for you that you never would have before considered?
The biggest thing so far as been the response to Taft 2012óboth from individuals and from the media. I have interviews coming up with NPR, BBC, and lots of other outlets. Who knows would could come of it? At the very least, my mom is impressed. And what better reward could you have?
Do you ever become bored with your writing? If so, how do you get past that point?
A book can start to feel tedious halfway through the process, but thatís only natural. I push past it by remembering that if I donít hit my deadline, I donít eat. That tends to give me a fresh burst of enthusiasm. Or maybe itís panic.
How do you manage to balance your time between friends, family, and writing?
Itís not easy. Then again, Iíve always been a fairly solitary person. I love my friends, my family, and my girlfriend. But I hope theyíve come to understand over the years that my social motor is a bit smaller than most, and just because Iíve been locked away in a room writing for weeks, it doesnít mean I donít love them.
If you could spend one hour with just one person, whom would you choose? Why?
My grandmother. I dedicated Taft 2012 to her, but she never lived to see me become a writer. Iíd love to let her know that I couldnít have done it without her.
When you go into a bookstore to buy a book for your own reading pleasure, what do you look for?
Iím a huge fan of science fiction, fantasy, horror, magic realism, history, pop culture, and graphic novels. I usually avoid mainstream literary fiction. Iíd rather read about dragons or punk bands than a thinly veiled account of someoneís depressing childhood. I had one of my own, fine thank you.
Are you working on another book right now? If so, would you please tell us a bit about it?
I am, but it hasnít been officially announced yet. Still top secret. I will say this, though: Itís scary, itís for younger readers, and it should be hitting the shelves by the end of 2012.
Do you have any advice for writers who are striving to be published?
Take the plunge. Quit your job, throw yourself into the deep end, and see what youíre made of.
Thank you, Jason Heller, for such an amazing interview. I am looking forward to the release of your next book.