A Peek at the Creative Space of Laurie McKay

Laurie McKay is the author of The Last Dragon Charmer #1: Villain Keeper. Her debut middle grade novel was published in February and was selected for the Winter Indie Next List. Here is the description from Good Reads:

All his life, Prince Caden has dreamed of being sent on a quest to slay a dragon. But before he has the chance, he is ripped from his home in the Winterlands of Razzon and finds  himself in Asheville, North Carolina—a land with no magic and no dragons. But a prince must always complete his quest. And the longer Caden is in Asheville, the more he realizes  there is magic in this strange land after all. More important, there may just be dragons here, too. But what if Caden’s destiny isn’t to slay a dragon, like he’s always believed?

To learn more about Laurie and her writing visit her website, follow her on Twitter, or like The Last Dragon Charmer on Facebook.

Describe your workspace.

I work at coffee and sandwich shops a lot. Getting out of the house helps me focus. When at home, I write with my laptop on a make-shift pillow desk and on the couch. Sometimes, I write at my non-pillow real desk. At home, I have two old and dear dogs underfoot – Simon (age 15 years) and Sally (age 13 years). Simon, especially, likes to nose my computer while I’m trying to type.


Describe a typical workday.

I turn on the computer and check emails. Then I check random internet things. I look at twitter and think about tweeting. Sometimes, I actually tweet something. At this point, usually I realize I’m not getting any work done! I close my browser, open up my word document, and start typing.


List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

  • My laptop. It’s where I do all my work. I am deeply attached to it.
  • A hardcover of VILLAIN KEEPER. After all, it’s the fruit of my labor!
  • A list of books I’ve read recently. Every time I read a book, I feel like I’ve gained something from it. There’s a sense of accomplishment. I like looking at the titles of all the great stories I’ve gotten to read. 

Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

Hmm. I don’t think I really do. Although, before I start writing, I reread whatever I wrote the day before. Sometimes I reread it several times. Then as I write, I reread passages and sentences over and over and over and over.
What do you listen to while you work?

I need ambient noise. I think that’s why I work best while out at coffee shops and the like. Neither music nor silence works for me.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

I have coffee – hot and I have a Diet Pepsi with ice. If there is no Diet Pepsi, I go with Diet Coke. I found a Diet Coke “Mel” and deemed it lucky as that was my grandpa’s name. I’m trying to switch over to water but haven’t been able to shake the diet soda habit yet!

What keeps you focused while you’re working?

While it takes me a while to get going. Once I get to the ‘go’ part, though, and am actively working, my focus is fairly intent. For me, it’s more about getting started. Once I do that, staying focused isn’t as much of a problem. 

Look! I’m outlining in this one!

Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?

I almost always use my laptop. So much, in fact, that I’m losing keys. The escape key, well, it escaped from the keyboard. There’s just a little button there now. Occasionally, when I’m outlining I’ll write longhand, but that’s rare. I do print up hardcopies of outlines and drafts and mark them up though.

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

I usually start off with a concept or character. Then I type. Typically, I write a few thousand words then realize I need to rethink the entire thing. At that point, I get a better idea of the story I want to write and start an outline. Outlining is a skill I’m still developing, but I feel like it’s something that could really improve the way I work.  And I’m getting better at it.

If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

I’d share it with my sister who conveniently is also my critique partner. We go out and write together all the time already. We’re not actively writing in the pic below, but we look happy.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

An author presenting at the the NC Writer’s Network conference advised the group to write whether inspired or not. The presenter – and I wish I remembered her name – said she’d found her ‘uninspired’ writing was usually just as good as her ‘inspired’ writing. The important thing is to get words on paper. I’ve also found that to be true. It’s really great advice. There are so many things that can bring you down or distract you.  It’s good to just keep working.