Amazon.com interview with Dennis L. McKiernan
Amazon.com: How did you begin writing? Did you intend to become an author, or do you have a specific reason or reasons for writing each book?
D.M.: I was run over by a car, and to stay sane while I was bedridden in a cast from armpits to toes I decided to write a novel. The novel was pretty good, I thought, and so I sent it to a publisher, and they decided to print it. Since then I have written some 13 books, all of which have been published (or are about to be published) and have turned to writing full time. I do not recommend getting run over by a car as a way to start a career.
Amazon.com: What authors do you like to read? What book or books have had a strong influence on you or your writing?
D.M.: Among my favorites are Ursula Leguin, Patricia Mckillip, Tolkien, Robert E. Howard, and a host of others, many mainstream writers, mystery writers, and writers in other genres.
Amazon.com: Could you describe the mundane details of writing: How many hours a day do you devote to writing? Do you write a draft on paper or at a keyboard (typewriter or computer)? Do you have a favorite location or time of day (or night) for writing? What do you do to avoid--or seek!--distractions?
D.M.: I usually devote four or five hours a day to writing during the week, but I take weekends off. Typically, I produce an average of five manuscript pages a day. My stories are almost always around 200,000 words long, plus or minus 30,000 or so words. I use a PC to do my writing, and Word for Windows as my software. I try to start at around 10 or 11 am, and I knock off around 4 to 5 pm, taking a break for lunch around 1 pm. To avoid distractions, I work at the end of the house away from TV, and occasionally I turn the phones off and let my answering machine take the calls. I live in a quiet place where there is very little roadway traffic, and I am out of the air traffic patterns as well. My kids are grown and live away from the house, and my wife has her own project room at the far end of the house. So, all in all, I am rather isolated, which for me is ideal for writing.
Amazon.com: Do you meet your readers at book signings, conventions, or similar events? Do you interact with your readers electronically through e-mail or other online forums?
D.M.: I attend conventions, do bookstore signings, and read snailmail, email, and faxes. I almost always manage to find time to answer, especially those snailmail letters where the writer includes a self-addressed and stamped envelope.
Amazon.com: When and how did you get started on the Net? Do you read any newsgroups such as rec.arts.books and rec.arts.sf.written, mailing lists, or other on-line forums? Do you use the Net for research--or is it just another time sink? Are you able to communicate with other writers or people you work with over the Net?
D.M.: I started on the net back in the late seventies or early eighties when I was working for AT&T Bell Laboratories. In 1990, I dropped off the net, but in 91 or 92 I got an account on GEnie. I recently (May of 96) jumped back on the net via the AT&T WorldNet offer. I do a lot of email and topic discussion with other members of the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA). I do read rec.arts.sf.written, .reviews, and .misc, though I must admit that I skip most of the articles.
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