Within a few minutes of picking up Red Rising, I was hooked. Pierce Brown quickly became one of my favorite authors as I devoured the entire Red Rising Saga over the course of a year. The fifth book, Dark Age, is available now. Enjoy this week’s edition of Write Now.
Who are you?
I am Pierce Brown, the #1 New York Times Bestselling author of the Red Rising Saga. I live in Los Angeles. Visit Pierce’s website.
What do you write?
While the trappings of my novels, five thus far, are science fiction, I prefer to think of them as science fantasy. Unlike many of the mid-century legends of science fiction, I tend to focus on characters and human drama over technology or aliens.
With Red Rising, infuse ancient greek myth and Roman history into a story of rebellion against tyranny within the borders of our solar system.
Sure, some call my work dystopian. Others call it straight fantasy. Others pure malarkey. But what excites me is finding the common themes that seem to stitch humanity together from the stone age to the age of starships.
Where do you write?
When I started writing at eighteen, I’d write anywhere: my local library up in a suburb north of Seattle, in my dorm room, in my college library, in coffee shops, in little park nooks. Now I fear I’m a bit more precious (or perhaps high-maintenance).
I write only in my office. It is a little office in a little farm house that looks down on a grove of trees and a big city. I like the tinkle of my wind chime, the gurgle of my backyard stream, and the sound of my dog snoring in the reading chair behind me. Sometimes a helicopter passes overhead. Sometimes the deer that lives on my property, Gertrud, sneaks up to murder my fledgling citrus trees.
I enjoy Micron .35 mm pens and white legal pads for notes, but rarely keep track of the pens or the notes. I write only on my desktop Mac either in word or Scrivner or Final Draft, depending on the project.
When do you write?
I have no system except that I only write on writing days.
Writing must be the focus of the day, not an addendum or a prelude to other work. If something else is hanging over me, I can’t focus. So I rise, I write until I’m depleted, using whatever ad hoc benchmark I need — generally a word count. If the writing is good, I’ll write ten hours.
I usually try not to write at night, but when a deadline presses, I’ll often write all day, watch a movie and eat dinner, then write through the night till late morning. On my last book, Dark Age, I did this for three months. It is neither healthy nor sustainable, but it worked for me.
I write without an outline, but with a general understanding where I’m going. I prefer the tension that creates, and how the characters then decide the plot instead of the plot deciding for the characters.
Why do you write?
I write because I need to. Do I like it all the time? Hardly. Do I enjoy every aspect? No. But, like anything worth doing, it is challenging, complex, frustrating, and tests the tensile rating of my grey matter.
How do you overcome writer’s block?
I have writers block daily, weekly, hourly. I’m just a capricious person, so I’m used to it by this point. The only way of clearing the webs is to be physical. Go swim, go hike, go do anything but sit in front of the cruelly cold computer.
Bonus: What do you enjoy doing when not writing?
I’m not always writing, but I’m always thinking about writing. Always — when I travel, when I drive, when I eat, when I lay down to sleep. Whatever story I’m writing, my head lives in the ether with it, wondering about the possibilities of the world my characters inhabit. Sounds ridiculous, I know, but it’s like that crush you can’t stop thinking about — haunting, exciting, dominating the tone of my internal dialogue until I exorcise it.
My thanks to Pierce Brown for today’s Write Now interview.