Joining us today for Creative Spaces is YA novelist, Tessa Gratton. Tessa’s debut novel Blood Magic will be published later this month on May 24, but you can read the first three chapters here. Warning: You will be sucked in. And then you will have to wait weeks to read more. But you can make yourself feel better about that by preordering a copy or requesting it at your local library.
Here is a brief summary of Blood Magic:
Everywhere Silla Kennicot turns, she sees blood. She can’t stop thinking about her parents’ alleged murder-suicide. Then, a book filled with spells arrives mysteriously in the mail. The spells share one common ingredient: blood. Nick, the new guy at school who makes Silla’s pulse race, has a few secrets of his own. Drawn together by a combination of fate and chemistry, they must discover who knows their secret and protect their powerful magic.
You may also be familiar with her writing from the Merry Sisters of Fate
, a collaborative fiction blog she runs with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff, where they share YA short stories every week.
To learn more about Tessa Gratton visit her website and her blog.
Describe your workspace.
I work in a square room that is 3 walls of windows and one wall of bookshelves, at a large L-shaped desk. This room was added to my house 10 years ago by a retired Catholic priest, and I like to think that makes it extra Zen. My Big Mac takes up space, but mostly I have room to spread out and pile books everywhere.
Describe a typical workday.
Alarm by 6:30 am, coffee and email, read blogs and industry news. Hang out on Twitter and mess around with my crit partner Maggie for a while before we both buckle down and get to writing. I write/revise/tweet/email until around 4 or 5pm. Occasionally I take a cereal break or a treadmill break.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
My 27 year old Wicket the Ewok plastic bank. It sits next to my computer – I’ve had it since I was about 3, and it reminds me that this is my job now. My amazing, amazing job.
A print of a painting by Stephanie Pui-mun Law. It was a gift to myself to represent the first novel I finished as an adult, revised, and submitted to agents.
A scroll with my name on it that my parents got me for my birthday when we lived in Japan. I lived in Japan for 3 years when I was a teenager, and it changed me in so many ways.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
Other than needing coffee in the morning and checking my email first, no. I try not to develop rituals, so that I can work anytime, anywhere.
What do you listen to while you work?
Sometimes the wind through the trees, sometimes my dog crying to go outside, sometimes music I’ve picked out that helps me get into the groove of a particular book or scene. Often that means just one song on repeat for countless hours at a time.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
Coffee, Diet Coke, or water. I try to make it water more often than not. As for food–cereal, unless I’m revising, in which case it’s cereal and Nerds candy. If I get desperate for protein I eat a handful of nuts or roll up some deli meat. The key is ease and speed.
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
My willpower. And passion for what I’m doing.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
Computer! I can write faster, more cleanly, and delete with the click of a button on the computer. I do keep Moleskin notebooks on my person at all times for jotting down epiphanies or character thoughts if I’m away from the computer. And I take all my notes longhand, also draw timelines and outlines that way sometimes–just to get a different feel for the story.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
All of the above? I don’t do regular outlines, but sometimes will work on a story path that connects different scenes that I know happen. I also make character arc outlines, that trace the changes in my characters, their moments of truth, their moments of doubt. Their emotional climaxes. But I tend to have a vague idea of the overall story, and then write scene-to-scene.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
I’m not sure I could do this long term without quitting, actually. Thinking about it with any kind of permanence makes me nauseated. I desperately need my alone time. But if I HAD to pick, I’d go with my partner Natalie or my BFF/Crit partner Maggie Stiefvater. I really, truly, think that we’d all end up dead though. It would not be pretty.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?