Last week I started my feature Inside The Writer’s Studio where I invited authors to take us inside their workspace and give us a glimpse into their writing life. Mandy Hubbard, the author of the upcoming young adult novel Prada and Prejudice, agreed to be the first participant. I hoped readers would ask her questions and they obliged me. Mandy was so wonderful that she answered ALL the questions.
Mandy: First off, thanks for all the great questions! Secondly, um, I think I have to admit that my office is NOT always that clean, even though I would like it to be. The pictures were taken the day after I assembled that lovely IKEA desk, bookshelf and chair. So it hadn’t had time to get cluttered yet!
I asked Mandy to explain the rest of the room that you can’t see in the picture. And tell us a little more about the writing space in her own words.
I used a small chunk of my advance money to buy the long-wanted office furniture (and the framed print) so it was money well spent. And since I went to Ikea, the furniture was super cheap! (The bookcase was $120, the desk $79, and the chair $100.) Let' see... as far as the rest of the space, there is also a leather loveseat that was recently moved out of another room. Luckily it matched the furniture! Other than that, the window has some truly tragic miniblinds, and I have one of those utility style metal filing cabinets. Yes, you can see why I left out that side of the room! Not to mention, the closet, window and doors wont have any molding on them until next month when the contractor comes to finish up the final touches of our remodel. Would you believe the room used to be 100% wood paneling from 1966?
I think Mandy put that advance money to very good use!
Don’t you? And here you have it, the Mandy Hubbard interview, made by you!
Answers to your questions:
Devyn Burton said... Do you listen to Music while your write? If so does your music play lists change with each project?
Mandy: I do! It’s not hard to write the fluffy, happy scenes without music, and I didn’t need music to write PRADA. But when it comes to the darker more intense scenes, music is my friend. I wrote a more literary novel called SHATTERED that I hope to sell under a pen name, and I had a whole list of dark, haunting love songs! I blogged it here: http://mandywriter.livejournal.com/123397.html
Chelsea said... I see that you keep your bookshelf close to your writing space - do you use any of the books for inspiration as you write?
Mandy: Hmm…Good question! I get different kinds of inspiration from different books. Shattered, the book I reference above, was partially inspired by reading Dessen’s DREAMLAND. She shows an entirely different side of abusive relationships than the side I show. Others, like regency romances, helped me get into the world of 1815.
Shooting Stars Mag said... I love it! And that's so awesome that the book cover is framed and hung in her house...Did you always want to do that or was it something you thought of after getting the cover? Perhaps even someone else's idea?
Mandy: I have dreamt of having a poster-sized version of my cover for years! Long before I had the cover--or ever sold a novel. I’m not sure where I got the idea, but I always knew I’d want to do it.
Paul David said...My question is this: What's you writing frequency like? Do you commit to a certain number of words/paragraphs/pages per day or is it a random thing?
Mandy: It depends on if I’m on deadline or not. If I have a deadline to get something to my agent or editor, I do the math to figure out how much I need to squeeze in every day. Believe it or not, weekends are absolutely the worst writing time for me. I do most of it at night or during my daily train commute.
If I’m not on deadline, its stop-go-stop-go until I am done. If I’m feeling good and it’s flowing well, I’m obsessive about getting back to the computer to do a couple thousand more words. If I’m stuck, it can be hard to focus and not open my email box instead!
Luisa Perkins said...I'm wondering how you balance your writing time with taking care of the needs of your family?
Mandy: I’m supposed to balance it? Ha. Mostly, family comes first, so I have to fit the writing around that. I tote my laptop around and write during train commutes and lunch breaks, and then again after 8PM when my toddler is asleep. If I’m on deadline, my husband does his best to give me a little extra time here and there, but that doesn’t always happen. A lot of people believe to write a book, you need a full hour or two to devote every day. You don’t. You can write a book in ten minute increments if that’s all you’ve got!
TC said... The first thing I noticed about the writing space is the lack of anything green and living, i.e., a potted plant! That girl needs a desk top topiary or something. And Mandy, is your space window-less? I sure hope not. But of course we're all different; perhaps you're a minimalist writer? ;~)
Mandy: Sadly, I kill plants. Give me a perky, happy plant, and it’ll be yellow in twenty-four hours. (I’m seriously considering buying some of those as-seen-on-tv watering ball things, just to see if they are as miraculous as they claim to be.)
There is a window to the left of my bookcase, in bad need of some new window treatment!
BJ Blinston said..Does the environment lend to the story? Does it help when editing or rereading? Do you find you need different environments in order to write different stories?
Mandy: Sometimes! For the most part, all I do is re-read the last few pages I wrote to get back into the groove, and it doesn’t matter where I am (as long as there isn’t some crazy loud people talking next to me.). But when writing SHATTERED, it was so dark and heartbreaking the only way I could get the voice right was if I sat in bed with the laptop, with the lights out, and the earphones in. I periodically stopped typing and listened to the music for a little bit, and then picked it up again. It was emotionally exhausting keeping myself in that mindset for a few hours every night, but it made for a stronger story, and I wrote the whole rough draft in less than two weeks.
For the lighter stuff, I can write just about anywhere. I try to avoid writing promiscuous scenes on the train because I’m paranoid the person next to me is secretly reading it!
sorenj said... I'm curious about the inspiration for this particular novel. For example, did you want to write a novel and this was the result or did you have an idea or a theme, start writing, and sort of discovered a book?
Mandy: This particular novel came from my love of Regency Romances, but I felt a little disconnected since the heroines of 1815 think differently than those of the twenty-first century. So why not sent a modern teen there and see how she deals? Discovering the true heart of the story, though, took 9 drafts.
Rachel S said...What is your favorite Taylor Swift song? (excluding Love Story)
Mandy: At the moment, probably “You’re not Sorry”.
(And for those wondering where this question came from—Go watch Taylor ’s LOVE STORY video—it parallels the plot for PRADA & PREJUDICE.)
Taylor Swift - Love Story Official Music Video *With Lyrics*
Eric S. said... How do you develop your characters, and settings. Is there a process you find more useful than others.
Mandy: Funny how you ask about characters and settings, because for me they develop the same way—layers and layers. My first drafts are really just the framework, and then as I read it, I continue adding small things. A line here and there, an adverb, an adjective, etc, until it slowly comes to life. Hopefully with time I’ll write stronger first drafts, but for Prada, the characters and 1815 didn’t come alive until recently! Chracters DO NOT come to me fully formed. I discover them as I write.
Darling Diva said... Where did you get your inspiration for this great story idea? and if you encounter a block what do you do to get motivated again?
Mandy: See above (Q asked by Sorenj) for the “inspiration” answer. As for blocks, well, I just have to force my way through it. The easiest way is to take the laptop somewhere with no interruptions and internet access, like the train, and just force myself to write something, even if its crap. I find that pushing through helps get me going, and eventually it flows again. I often delete a lot of what I write during the “block” times, because that was sort of like a warm-up, but what’s left is a good transition into the stuff that flows better! Sometimes you just gotta force yourself to put hands to keyboard until it gets better. And trust me—it does get better. If it doesn’t, you’re writing the wrong story.
Thanks again to Mandy, author of Prada and Prejudice, for answering all our questions.