Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Peter V. Brett

From a Q & A with Peter V. Brett about his new novel, The Warded Man:

Question: First of all, I have to ask about the composition of this novel, which is your first. Is it true that you wrote The Warded Man on your Blackberry while commuting by subway from Brooklyn to your day job in New York? This is a novel that weighs in at over 500 pages!

Peter Brett:Well, it wasn’t a Blackberry, but the rest is true. I have an HP Ipaq 6515 smartphone. It’s a little clunky compared to some of today’s smartphones, but back in late 2005 when I picked it out, it was about as close as you could get to a tricorder. I chose it because it could run Microsoft Word, which meant I could write on the mini-keyboard, sync it to my computer, and then continue working in the same document on my desktop.

Finding time to write when you have a full-time job (not to mention a life outside work) is possibly the greatest hurdle for the would-be novelist to overcome. On a good day, I was on the subway an hour and a half. On a bad day, anyone who is familiar with the NYC subway system knows your commute can grow exponentially. I was always looking for a way to make that time productive, but writing longhand on the subway is impossible.

Enter the smartphone. On days when I could get a seat, I would put my iPod on to drown out the background chatter and start thumb-writing. I set a goal of 1,000 words a day for myself, and usually I could get at least 800 of those done on the commute. More if I wrote at lunch. At night, I would go home, sync the phone to my PC, and then clean up the file, fix typos, and finish off the quota (if needed).
The phone really changed my life, because it meant I could write anywhere, at any time. In a long line at the bank? Write. Waiting at the bar for a friend? Write. In a cab, or the passenger seat of a car? Write.

I would frequently even come out of the subway, walk up the steps and down the sidewalk, all the way to my office, still typing away. It’s pure luck that I never walked into an open manhole or got knocked over by a bike messenger. I would say that a good 60% of The Warded Man was written thus. I don’t know that I could ever have done it without this tool to make my historically unproductive time so productive.
Read the complete Q & A.

The Page 69 Test: The Warded Man.

--Marshal Zeringue