Since our next book club feature is The Idea of Him, we wanted an inside look on author Holly Peterson. I don’t know about you, but I’m always curious about an author’s writing process and the books that she or he loves. Holly even offers tips for aspiring writers.
From Left to Write: What are 5 books that have changed your life?
Holly Peterson: I think about these books all the time and relive moments and, at least in the case of Truman Capote, remember that writing is all “show don’t tell”. He never explains anything and has the tightest, most elegant writing style.
- Anna Karennina by Leo Tolstoy
- Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald-
- Bonfire of the Vanities by Tom Wolffe
- Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
- Crime and Punishment by Fyodyor Dostoevsky
(Some of the above books are available as free or low cost e-books. Click link to download.)
FL2W: Can you share more about your writing process with our readers? What about tips for writers?
Holly: I can only write late at night or very early in the morning efficiently. Why? Emails don’t show up then!!! I get so distracted by other work projects, my three kids and my “homemaker” duties like making sure someone is home when the cable tv/internet guy finally shows that writing during the day is much more challenging. I live in very busy Manhattan and am able to write in Starbucks, deli’s and almost anywhere that will let me put my computer down. I just have to try really hard not to see if that cable guy showed up and stick instead to the paragraph in front of me.
I go to libraries a lot to find peace and quiet and I try to keep the Internet off. But after 10pm or before 8am, I find no one bothers me online except spam that I can easily ignore so I get so much done in the wee hours. I don’t tell people to “Write everyday…write anything, just write!”, I think that’s great advice to keep your writing muscle up, but it’s totally unrealistic. It’s like saying, “Eat 1200 calories, no carbs, no sugars, run 5 miles every day. C’mon, do that everyone!!! It’s soooo easy.”
Writing is hard. We all avoid it.
And days go by when we can’t deal with it at all. You just have to know that you are going to be able to fix it and finish it. Don’t give up. That’s what I tell people.
FL2w: What are your favorite writing tools?
Holly: At night I like something called my “Elvis cocktail”, it’s a glass of white wine and a diet coke at the same time. One loosens me up to write fun sexy scenes, and the other keeps me powered to stay up til 1am to get tons of pages in. In the morning, I can’t function without at least 2 cups of tea and a protein shake before I even think about writing. I have a little notebook in my purse where I write down ideas or crazy things people in this crazy city say to me. Many of those one liners are just too precious to ignore and not share with my readers!
Have any questions for Holly? Leave in the comments.