with Meaghan Strimas
HLR: How do you schedule time to write?
AP: There are exceptions, but most of the time I'm Monday to Friday, with the writing in the morning and the re-reading and bill paying and grocery grabbing etc. in the afternoons. That's when I'm in the middle of writing a first draft. But there are stretches prior to the beginning of a book when it looks like I'm doing nothing: reading seemingly unrelated books and magazine articles, poking around the stacks at the library, watching old movies. I call that research.
HLR: What obstacles (real and imagined) make it a challenge for you to find time to write, and how have you dealt with them?
AP: It's always been a challenge to slash away at the underbrush of life and make a clear space for the work. And I know I'm among the very lucky ones who doesn't have a second (or third, or fourth) job to pay the rent. One must be merciless in guarding the writing hours while, at the same time, not becoming an anti-social, child-and-spouse-neglecting jerk. Personally, I find it hard to say no to things, so that I often accept an invitation to do a reading somewhere months in advance, and then the date arrives and part of me resents having to honour the commitment. But here's the thing: there's always something worthwhile to be had from getting out of the house. There's always someone out there waiting to break your heart.
HLR: Do you find you work better when your schedule is clear, or when you are pressed to find time?
AP: I certainly prefer a nice, blank calendar in front of me. You can get into a rhythm that way, the days roll along, the word count plumping up. I particularly find it hard to jump from one project to another. Sometimes, for instance, I'll be working on a novel when I'm asked to do a re-write on a screenplay, and I need at least a day on either side of that interruption to find my way back into the novel.
Andrew Pyper is the author of seven bestselling novels, most recently The Damned. His previous novels include The Demonologist (winner of the International Thriller Writers Award), The Killing Circle (a New York Times Crime Novel of the Year), and Lost Girls (a New York Times Notable Book). He lives in Toronto.