I have a treat for you today. I got to interview Jamie Ford the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. I heard about this book first through the Pub Rants blog. She represents Jamie.
What does your writing space look like?
I do have a home office––it’s what you’d imagine…walls with maps and notes all over the place. Bookshelves. One section devoted to Harlan Ellison, one devoted to graphic novels, one with Asian history, etc. Odds and ends are on my other shelves. A tiny urn with some of my father’s ashes. An old snuff tin used by my grandmother. A Daruma doll, both eyes colored in, meaning I set a certain goal and later achieved it. Okay, maybe not what you imagined?
Oh, and I say variable because I’m prone to write at the public library as well, usually in the summer when there’s a lot of kid activity going on at home.
Oops, almost forgot, our two golden retrievers, Asia and Sadie, (often mistaken for throw-rugs) are usually lazing around my office somewhere.
What is your writing process? Do you outline from start to finish or just write and see what comes next?
When it comes to writing, there are two polar opposites: The Outliner, who meticulously plots every detail, and the Discovery Writer, who starts with a blank canvas (and maybe a bottle of scotch). I’m sort of in the middle, minus the grain alcohol. I start with a premise and an ending, then discover the story along the way, but that ending is my guidepost.
Do you have any writing rituals?
Is procrastination a ritual? If so then at times I practice it to a religious fervor. Actually, if I were to map out my writing process it would go like this:
1)Do tons of research. To the point where I’m dying to put words on a page for fear of forgetting.
2)Write at a steady pace, 3-4 hours/day, 1,500 words/day, until done. I try to take as few days off as possible, which has been difficult since I’m still in a bit of a promotional cycle for Hotel. But staying in Storyland is key to my writerly happiness.
Is there anything you know now, as a published writer, that you wish you knew when you first started?
Probably that writing takes practice, and to allow myself some truly terrible practice runs. There were so many points in my writing career where I took time off in frustration, instead of just sticking to it and allowing room for improvement.
Did you know that your novel was going to be called Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet when you were writing it or did that come later?
That came later. The working title was The Panama Hotel, which I knew we’d change. Sure, it’s an actual hotel, but when you think of Panama you think of Manuel Noriega or pretty rum drinks with cocktail umbrellas. As I was writing, I wanted the story to be happy and sad, joyful and sorrowful, and well…bitter and sweet. So the new title came quite naturally.
Who did you dedicate this book to and why?
To my lovely wife––because if I didn’t she’d kill me.