Lamar Giles is the two-time Edgar Award finalist of the YA thrillers Fake ID, Endangered, Overturned, and Spin. His debut middle grade fantasy, The Last Last-Day-of-Summer, will be published in April 2019 by Versify/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. He’s also a founding member of We Need Diverse Books, a contributor to the YA anthologies Three Sides of a Heart and Black Enough: Stories of Being Young and Black in America, and the editor of the We Need Diverse Books YA short story anthology Fresh Ink.
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Describe your workspace.
Cluttered. Haha. That’s the truth on most days. In a lot of ways, for a lot of years, I existed as a one-man band. I was my own business manager, my own administrative assistant, my own booking agent, and, somewhere in the midst of that, I had to write the books. I have more help now, but my workspace still often looks like I still wear all the hats. But among all the paperwork are fun things that represent my personality. A lot of fun comic book memorabilia, my favorite books, and a big computer monitor because my eyes are getting old (just my eyes, though… not the rest of me).
Describe a typical workday.
I’m up by 6 AM. By 6:30 AM I’ve got the coffee, and I’m sending/answering email. By 7:30 I’ll have breakfast with my wife, watch a bit of news. Then, once she’s off to work by 8:30, I’m writing, and I work on new projects until around lunch. The afternoon is reserved for revising, or administrative stuff. By 5:00 PM—unless there’s a deadline pressing—I knock off, cook dinner, and enjoy the evening.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
My BLADE action figure, because in my heart of hearts I want to one day write a Blade story for Marvel. My Stephen King Shelf, where I keep all of my Stephen King novels along with my Pennywise Funko POP! Figure and my Simpsons Stephen King figure, then my shelf of black Funko POP! Figures—they’re the heroes I longed to see when I was a child, and I’m happy to display them for myself, or whoever else would be inspired by them.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
No rituals per se. Well, Sour Gummies. When I’m on deadline, I need Sour Gummies.
What do you listen to while you work?
Nothing. I write in silence. Music makes it hard for me to concentrate on words, even instrumentals. So my work day tends to be fairly quiet.
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
Coffee and Sour Gummies. Not at the same time. LOL!
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
Just the age old saying, “Sooner begun, sooner done.” I try to get a certain amount of words/pages in. If I can do that, I can knock off even earlier and go do something else that needs my attention.
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
Computer. I did longhand when I was younger, but I’m all about the tech now.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
Short fiction I usually just go and see what happens. For longer work, I tend to create a synopsis of anywhere from 3 to 10 pages and go from there.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
Hmmmm. I would say Stephen King, but I read he writes to super loud rock music, so he’d get all of his work down (as he’s done for decades) and I’d have a blank page because I need that silence. So. Maybe a mime. A mime would work for me. Haha.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Modulate your writing, don’t stay in one spot too long. What that means is if you’re writing an action scene don’t make it all action, work some dialogue in. If you’re writing dialogue, work in something about the setting so it’s not two heads talking in white room. If you’re writing about setting be sure to let us know how the character’s feeling. That idea of never doing the same thing for too long while constantly moving the story forward has improved my work tremendously I think.