One of the best books I have ever read on the subject of writing was Stephen King’s On Writing. If you’re a writer of any sort (new, veteran, journalist, novelist, blogger) you should definitely check it out. Nora Fleischer, the subject of our interview today, also knows how important this book is. She’s got great advice for other writers and I know you’re going to enjoy her story.
Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you been writing?
I was born near Boston, spent high school in Northern California, and currently live in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’ve been writing since I was very little– my parents have a copy of my first novel, written when I was in elementary school, about a princess who marries a dragon. I illustrated it and hardbound it myself!
What type of writing do you do?
I have a bifurcated writing life. I write academic history under my real name, and fiction under a pen name. In my fiction, I do all the things I can’t get away with in non-fiction, like making jokes and lying. The good thing about writing history is that I am always reminded to think about the bigger picture, and the strange cultural assumptions that drive all our lives.
What’s the best thing about writing?
Getting all the people who live in my head to go outside my head.
Share some of your writing goals.
I’m hoping to finish my zombie romance novel soon– it’s been a big project! If you’re reading this and interested in being a beta reader, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is there a specific time of day you like to write?
I have two small children, so my writing time happens when they’re asleep or at school. You’ll usually find me at my desk between one and three and after eight p.m. Before I had kids, I used to write from dinnertime until I fell asleep at midnight, or even later, but now I know they’ll be coming in to wake me up too early for that!
What’s the most interesting book you’ve ever read?
Right now I’m very interested in Terry Pratchett’s Ankh-Morpork books. He wears his historical knowledge very lightly, but they’re a fine introduction to the transition from an aristocracy to a civil society built on man-made institutions: the law, the press, civic infrastructure, the financial sector. I find them very inspirational, because Pratchett shows how you can write historical fiction without being leaden or overtly didactic.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to be a writer. Doesn’t everyone want to be a writer?
Mark Twain, Terry Pratchett, Fay Weldon, Douglas Adams, Michael Chabon, Lee Smith, Mary Balogh. Every so often I have to get a big novel by Charles Dickens and read it. I like big, sprawling novels with a lot of humor and a social conscience, and I’m always interested in novels about class.
Book you’re currently reading.
I’m usually reading a few at a time. Currently I’m reading Ilona Andrews’s contribution to Must Love Hellhounds, and a book on colonial South Carolina.
Any type of writing ritual you have?
I write more fluidly when I’ve got music on. The Genius feature in iTunes is one of my favorite things– it really sets the right tone!
Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, how did you get past it? If not, why not?
Yes, I believe you can be so intimidated by the task ahead that you can’t write. The last time it happened to me, I did the exercises in The Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity [10th Anniversary Edition], and it was very helpful.
What’s the measure of a successful writer?
I want to get to the point where I’ve got enough of a name that people think of me for specific projects. Oh, Nora does that, let’s ask her!
Advice for other writers?
I have two gurus at the moment, only one of whom I’ve met. Stephen King’s book On Writing is one of the best books I’ve read as a writer. I like his idea that writing is telepathy, and that your goal is to transmit pictures to your reader’s mind. As a busy mom, I also like his reminders that it’s real life that makes you a writer– writers dry up in isolation. My other guru is Orson Scott Card, whose Boot Camp I just attended. If you can go, do– he does a great job at helping you find your weak areas as a writer and compensate for them. And he’s especially great at helping you fix weak plots.
Where can we learn more about you?
You can check my blog at norafleischer.livejournal.com. I post all my fiction publications there.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you, Cherie!