Little Birdy Book Blog: What inspired you to start writing?
R.L. King: I don't even remember anymore. I've been writing stories since I was a little kid, about the time I realized there were stories I wanted to read that people weren't writing. I started getting serious about it after I got out of college.
LBBB: How long did it take for you to write your first book?
R.L.: My first full novel, a fan novel set in the universe of the RPG Shadowrun, took me a little over a month to write. It was about 130,000 words. I'm a pretty fast first-drafter, though I don't think I've written anything else quite that fast.
LBBB: How do you come up with ideas for your stories?
R.L.: Mostly they come to me when I'm not expecting them. I'll see something in a movie, book, or news story that will spark my interest and I'll file it away. Eventually, I'll either get a story idea based on it or else I'll fold it together with several other similar idea snippets and form them into a plot. Usually my novel ideas start with a little kernel that just keeps growing until I have enough to start writing.
LBBB: What is your writing routine like? Do you have a set schedule or are you flexible?
R.L.: When I'm actively working on a project, I write whenever I can. Lunchtimes, after work, early evening, weekends, with breaks in between for various real-life things. When I'm in the groove it doesn't feel like work. I do get cranky when I can't write, though.
LBBB: What inspires you to write?
R.L.: My characters want their stories told, and usually they're pretty persistent about it! This is especially true of my series protagonist, Dr. Stone. He's had a lot of adventures, and he thinks my purpose in life should be getting them ready to share with the world!
LBBB: Are any of your stories written from personal experience, or any character traits that mirror yours?
R.L.: Most of my series novels are set in the Bay Area, which is where I live, so I like to "repurpose" locations and use them in the books. An upcoming novel is set in my home town. My main character and I have some things in common--we're both sarcastic, don't have a lot of patience for stupidity or rudeness, and tend to try to solve problems on our own instead of asking for help.
LBBB: When in a slump, what do you do? If you read or listen to music, what are your go-to books or music?
R.L.: Books and music don't usually do it for me when I'm in a slump--I just have to sit down and force myself to write through it. When I'm not feeling the inspiration, I make myself write for a set period of time, say 15 minutes or half an hour, or a set number of words, like 1,000. Something that's easily doable. Usually when I reach the time limit or the word limit, I'm moving along again and I don't stop.
LBBB: How do you respond to negative feedback/comments with your work?
R.L.: I remind myself that nobody has ever written anything that's universally loved. Bad reviews hurt, but I console myself by looking at the Amazon ratings of authors I either personally like or who are considered masters of their craft. All of them have their share of 1- and 2-star reviews. I've grown a much thicker skin as I've gotten older. And if the criticisms are valid, I can learn from them and use the suggestions to make my next book better.
LBBB: What is your writing space like? Do you work anywhere or do you have a special place just for your writing? Messy or clean?
R.L.: I actually have two writing spaces--one downstairs, on a Windows machine, for when I'm feeling sociable, and one upstairs, on a Mac, behind a closed door when I just want to be alone with my words and my music (and keep my cats from walking all over my keyboard!) Lately I've been using the upstairs space more often--it's where I'm writing the current novel in my series. It's kind of halfway between messy and clean--I try to keep it from getting too cluttered.
LBBB: Do you have a favorite author? Series?
R.L.: I have a lot of favorite authors: Jim Butcher, J. K. Rowling, Stephen King, Graham Masterton, and Chuck Palahniuk are probably the tops. My favorite series are the Dresden Files by Jim Butcher and the Harry Potter series.
LBBB: Any fur-babies?
R.L.: Yes, I have a small herd of cats that includes Singapuras, Russian Blues, and rescue tabbies. One of the tabbies is my writing buddy--he'll sit on my desk between me and my keyboard and sleep leaning against me while I type. He's very inspiring.
Her first novel in the Shadowrun universe, "Borrowed Time," will be published in Spring 2015.
When not doing her best to make life difficult for her characters, King is a software technical writer for a large Silicon Valley database company. In her spare time (hah!) she enjoys hanging out with her very understanding spouse and her small herd of cats, watching way too much Doctor Who, and attending conventions when she can.