Thursday, December 6, 2012

from John Sandford

I have a few "favorite authors" - those that I will read absolutely everything they write that I can get my hands on.  Dennis LeHane is one, I've mentioned him many times.  So is Jennifer Haigh.  And then there are writers that I read regularly, not necessarily because they're my favorite writers but maybe because I'm following their character thru a series (Sue Grafton's Kinsey Malone) or because I started with their first book & am numbly making a collection (John Grisham), or because I enjoyed one of their books & am hoping I'll enjoy more (but haven't quite yet, as would be the case with Scott Turow).  There's more, many more but amongst the collection is a stand-out.  This writer has had my heart from the first opening line I read and I've followed him & his characters (yeah, he has more than one), through book after book after book, and I've stalked him on Facebook, repeatedly check his website and joined his forum.  He is the writer I hold high above the rest.  He is not just my favorite of my favorites, he's THE BEST storyteller I've ever read, and if I thought about it, I'd have to say, he's the writer I respect the most (Stephen King would be a close second).

Who is this highly regarded phenomenon?  None other than...

I met him, in the literary sense, when my flight attendant roommate brought home "Rules of Prey," a paperback a passenger gave her as he exited her plane.  I picked it up & didn't put it down until I turned the last page.  I immediately went to the bookstore - Waldenbooks - and picked up his next two novels - same main character, same series, all have the word "Prey" in the title - already out in paperback.  I read them both within a few days and said, "when's the next book coming out?" 

Ahhhh, herein lies the problem: because I'm quirky (I admit it), I can't buy the hardbacks because I started my series collection in paperback.  Yeah, really.  Soooo, not only do I have to wait for the new books to release, I have to wait for them to be released in paperback!!!  That's, like, forever!

But I've made it through, and have even included his spin-off series in my reading collection.  I harbor every word, I covet every book.  I think this man humbly walks on water.  Such an inspiration to me (he started out as an investigative journalist), I'm in awe of him - and the reason I'm posting all this about him now is because this is what he posted today on

I've got a complete draft of Silken Prey, but it still needs a lot of work. I'll spend the next month doing that, the editing, take a week or so off, and then get started on the next Virgil Flowers novel. I think one problem that beginning writers have is that they try to make the first draft perfect -- and perfection is tough. I don't work that way. I try to get a decent first draft, then really bear down on the rewrite. A rewrite's a lot easier to get done when you know the whole arc of the novel. In the first version of this novel, for instance, the personality of the chief villain, a woman whose name is Taryn Grant, is a little too vague. I need to punch her up a bit, but really, that only takes a few hundred words, and because I now know all of her appearances in the novel, I can spread those words out to the appropriate places. (A novel has a certain pacing, which is damaged if you put in big blocks of description ...or characterization. You can take all the information from those blocks, break it up, spread it around, achieve the same end, and nobody notices.)

Feel like that is written just for me!  He's saying, "you can do it, but ya gotta just do it."  Damn.  He's not just a great storyteller, he's a great writing coach, too.

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