I just got back from the library and a "meet-the-author" event. The author was Laura Anne Gilman; she writes a contemporary fantasy romance series. There were only a few people in attendance, though one of them brought in her little boy, and his running around kept us entertained before the event started.
Laura started by reading from her latest book, which came out Friday. It was a good thing I'd read the first book in the series over the weekend, otherwise I'd have no idea what was going on. Afterwards, there was a question-and-answer session. I didn't take notes, and I only asked one question (how long does it take you to write your books?). Here are a few things I remember:
She's an organic writer; she knows a few things that will happen along the way, but she doesn't know the ending until she gets there. She also doesn't write the last chapter until she finishes the rest of the book; once she writes the ending, the book is done for her.
She has lots of notes all over her desk, but she also keeps a lot of the world-building in her head, which would make it difficult for her to collaborate with someone.
Characters she intends to be "walk-ons" have grown into larger parts.
She draws inspiration from all sorts of writers, including mainstream ones. One of her influences is an old favorite of mine: Mercedes Lackey. She cites Lackey's character development and says that her characters live on once the story is over. (This is especially interesting to me because I get something different from Lackey; her character types tend to blend together in my mind after having read a lot of her books, but I find her settings to be very comfy and inviting.)
Since her stories are set in Manhattan, she does a lot of research to make sure the general setting is correct. For instance, when she had to write a scene about a bridge, she went to the site and took a lot of pictures. However, she altered a few minor details to make the story work. Her heroine's apartment building doesn't exist, but she knows the corner where it's supposed to be.
She thought at first this series would be composed of stand-alone books, but after inventing her male lead's background, the world became more complex and interesting. Her heroine develops from a child (even though she's in her twenties at the start of the first book) to a responsible adult who helps her community come together to ward off an outside threat.
She describes herself as having two separate brains that don't talk to each other, a lizard brain and a mammal brain. The lizard brain hides under rocks and leaves ideas laying around for the mammal brain, which does the conscious writing and is amazed by how well all the ideas fit together.
She broke in by pounding her head repeatly against the wall until it (the wall, not her head), gave way.
She admitted to a continunity error and found a typo during the reading. She says about 80% of the typos and other errors in a book come from the author, but the typesetter gets blamed for all of them. ;)
She says writers are crazy, but that's something I already knew. ;)
At the end, she signed my book. I didn't have a lot of questions, so I left right away to come back to my laptop. If I ever want to be as successful as she is, I need to put in more time writing.