Kate Douglas writes the DemonSlayers series for Kensington Zebra, the latest installation of which is called StarFire. Below the author—also an avid traveler—answers the age-old question: Where do you get your ideas?
Readers: Where do you get your best ideas for creative projects? Let us know in the comments.
Where DO You Get Those Crazy Ideas?
Guest post by Kate Douglas
It happened to me again this weekend—someone asked me the question all of us who write often have to answer: “Where do you get your ideas?” Since I write both erotic and paranormal romance, I guess it’s understandable curiosity. Needless to say, I’d much rather discuss the ideas for my paranormal stories. I’ll leave the other to your imagination.
My husband and I love to travel. We’ll take off with Rufus the mutt in our little motorhome and head out with a somewhat nebulous destination in mind. The thing is, when you’ve got your own bed, kitchen stove and potty close at hand, the destination isn’t important. It’s the journey that counts.
Writing is a lot like that. I always know where I’m going to end up—hopefully with a soft sigh and a “happily ever after” ending—but getting there is what it’s all about. For that you need ideas, and those wandering trips often spark the next story.
A couple of years ago, we took off for a long weekend of camping up near Mount Shasta, an absolutely glorious dormant volcano in northern California. Shasta is famous as an energy vortex, similar to those around Sedona, Arizona. While we were in the little town of Mount Shasta, we wandered in and out of the tourist shops. Two of them really held my attention—a rock, gem and crystals shop, and a funky little bookstore. The gem shop had absolutely gorgeous stuff, including some of the most beautiful geodes I’d ever seen. Geodes are totally normal looking stones on the outside, filled with unimaginably beautiful crystals on the inside.
If you’ve read Crystal Dreams in the Nocturnal anthology, you’ll know exactly what story I found in that shop. Before I’d even stepped outside, my head was filled with images of Marigold Moonbeam Schwartz, aka Mari, wielding a powerful geode against demonkind as she fights beside Darius the Lemurian warrior.
Our next stop was the bookstore, which had a wonderful selection of books on local legends. I picked one up about an entire civilization deep inside the dormant volcano and was immediately reminded of the tales my dad used to tell about the Lemurians—for those of you who’ve read any of my DemonSlayers stories, you’ll know where this is heading, too.
By the time we were driving out of town, my head was filled with the first scenes of DemonFire, where demon-possessed garden gnomes are attacking Dax, my demon-turned-demon fighter. Obviously, Lemurians were involved, and the energy vortex that eventually led us on another trip, this time to Sedona, Arizona.
I can’t really explain the segue between a visit to a gem shop and the completed story about an accountant-turned-witch, but trust me on this, if I’d not held those geodes in my hands, if I hadn’t camped in the shadow of Mount Shasta, those stories might never have been written. There truly is a connection between the smallest visual, the slightest comment, the tactile experience of grasping a strange piece of stone in your hand, and the books lined up on the shelves. I know where the idea begins and I know how it ends, but the rest of it in between remains a mystery. And isn’t that what makes reading such a joy? Wondering how it’s all going to turn out, and then going along for the ride?
StarFire, the third book in my DemonSlayers series, came out April 5, and the danger to my band of demon slayers is heating up. Selyn, one of the Forgotten Ones, is badly beaten, but she survives due to Dawson Buck's medical intervention. He might only be a veterinarian, but he treats Selyn's broken ribs and punctured lung and saves her life. Drawn into the battle between Lemurians and Demonkind, Dawson is an unlikely hero, but he proves that a strong heart and stronger will can overcome the greatest obstacles, and that with love, anything is possible.
The DemonSlayers story began with a beautiful mountain and a legend about Lemurians. Where it finally ends up is what makes the trip such fun. Read StarFire, and then watch for CrystalFire, the final installment in the series, scheduled for release in Fall 2011.
The daughter of an FBI agent, P.M. Terrell wrote 12 novels solo before starting on a collaborative effort with T. Randy Stevens. Here, she shares her tips for a successful team writing project with BookPage readers.
Writing times two
guest post by P.M. Terrell
Years ago, I met a married couple who had gone from writing romance to murder mysteries. I think there’s something Freudian in that, but I was also struck by the concept of two individuals collaborating on one book. I doubted I would ever want to do it. But with my latest suspense novel, The Banker’s Greed, that is precisely what I did. And I would eagerly do it again.
T. Randy Stevens, the CEO and Chairman of the Board of First Farmers Bank, approached me with a draft and asked me if I would consider editing or rewriting it. I knew when I read the story—about a banker’s daughter who is kidnapped and all the clues lead to her father—that he had a compelling plot and multi-faceted characters. But I also knew that I did not want to take another person’s story and rewrite it. It was his idea and I wanted it to be a team effort.
For months, Randy wrote his chapters in the middle of the night. I’d arrive at my office to find his emailed chapters waiting for me. I’d spend the day massaging them, adding my “flair” and emailing him with suggestions and ideas. We went back and forth like this and the pages began to accumulate. Then we progressed to rewriting, editing and perfecting it.
I was fortunate because Randy is a dream to work with. For authors considering a collaborative effort, I recommend:
Linda Leaming's memoir Married to Bhutan, published today by Hay House, is a story about following your dreams and finding true happiness. In Leaming's case, that journey led her to the remote mountain kingdom of Bhutan. In a guest post, Leaming writes about what Bhutan is doing right, and the magnificent creatures who call the country home.
Living in a magical mountain kingdom
guest post by Linda Leaming
So many of us educated, plugged-in Americans are trying to be socially responsible and responsive. So we immerse ourselves daily in news of wars, natural disasters, and celebrity recidivism—it’s an endless stream on our Twitter, Facebook, and TV. It’s the way of the world. But every once in a while I have to switch off. I have to have some good news. And it has to be more than a cuddly kitten video on YouTube, although I do love those.
I live for part of the year in, and write about, a small corner of the world that isn’t particularly tragic or mired in problems. Bhutan is a happy, magical little place whose king would rather have Gross National Happiness than Gross National Product for his people. It's 200 miles from east to west and 100 miles from north to south, deep in the Himalayas between India and Tibet, a dot on the map. Yet it has every known climate zone, from snow-covered glaciers in the north to rainforests in the south, and hundreds, maybe thousands of endangered species of plants and animals.
The Bhutanese people do a lot of things right. They’re Buddhist and they’re not mad at anybody. They live close to the earth and they eat seasonally. They honor their traditions. They are aware that they have something very special, and as the world encroaches, they try to keep a balance between modern and traditional. They take their time, and they believe if it doesn’t get done in this life, then they can do it in the next. The Bhutanese environmental policy is the envy of the world; they are good stewards of the earth, and they’ve made a law that says the country must remain sixty percent forest-covered in perpetuity.
Bhutan and the Bhutanese escape the notice of the rest of the world. That’s good for Bhutan, because it can carry on and keep going. But it’s bad for the rest of the world. The world should know a place like Bhutan exists.
Bengal tigers that have historically inhabited the Duar plains of India to the south are shifting their habitats to Bhutan. They’ve never lived above 3,000 feet. But now they’re migrating to escape poachers, crowded preserves, and farmers who use slash-and-burn agriculture on their habitats. There are now fewer than 3,500 of them in the wild. A meditating lama that I know who lives in the mountains in a hermitage about 15 miles from Thimphu, Bhutan’s capital, says he’s seen tigers in the forest near his hut. The tigers have found a safe haven in Bhutan.
And so have I. And when the world gets to be too much, I think of the tigers and how Bhutan is buying them some time. I am so grateful and thankful that I have been able to have an association with this marvelous country for so long. I believe with all my heart that not just the tigers, but the rest of the world could use some of what Bhutan has.
[Thanks, Linda! Readers can find out more at MarriedToBhutan.com.]
I blogged about Alan Paul's memoir Big in China exactly two months ago, when I was writing BookPage's March world travel roundup. This story is about an American guy who moves to China for his wife’s job—three kids in tow—and ends up writing an award-winning expat column and fronting a popular blues band called Woodie Alan. Paul happened upon my blog post and commented that he read the audio book himself. Intrigued, I asked him to write about the experience, and he kindly agreed!
A remarkable experience: Recording my own audio book
Guest post by Alan Paul
If you want to get to know your book, read it out loud. This is a simple lesson I learned recording the audio book of Big In China, My Unlikely Adventures Raising a Family, Playing the Blues and Becoming a Star in Beijing.
Shortly after my editor at HarperCollins accepted my manuscript for Big in China, I began bugging her to let me read the audio book. No one else could capture my inflections and my intentions in this first-person memoir, the very personal tale of my family’s adventures and experiences during three and half years living in Beijing. The book explores my relationship with my wife Rebecca and our three kids. It deals with my struggles dealing with my father’s cancer from half a world away. It details my unlikely climb from stay-at-home dad and freelance writer to Chinese rock star and the deep relationships I developed with my Chinese bandmates as we barnstormed across the country.
After spending a year writing the book, poring over every sentence, pondering the implication of every turn of phrase, I was amazed to discover a new rhythm and new levels of meaning in my own work.
My excitement was tempered by a slight edge of panic. I had lobbied hard for this opportunity; now I would have to deliver.
I was paired with Paul Fowlie, a veteran audio book producer, who worked with me to pick a studio close to my home where I would feel comfortable. I settled onto a stool behind curtains hung from the ceiling of my friend’s basement home studio to mimic an isolation booth, a bottle of water and a cup of hot ginger/lemon water by my side, and I began reading the 500-page script.
It was a remarkable experience. After spending a year writing the book, poring over every sentence, pondering the implication of every turn of phrase, I was amazed to discover a new rhythm and new levels of meaning in my own work. It felt as if I were reading it for the first time.
I often read lines out loud while revising my work, because structural or flow problems that remain blind to the eye are immediately obvious to the ear. But I had never read the entire book, from beginning to end, like this and it was an exhilarating experience. There were a few lines I wished I could rewrite. I tinkered with some lines that read wrong—one of the advantages of an author recording his own book. I drank more water than I ever have in my life. And I finished the entire book in two days rather than the allotted three—the same as the actor they would have hired instead of me.
I was sad to be done and looking forward to the couple of hours the following week when we would reconvene to re-record the prologue (they always do that, since everyone gets better as they go along) and clean up any flaws found in the recording. I began working with Paul on incorporating music from my band’s CD, Beijing Blues. As I began to get ready for the next step—the book’s launch and the readings and appearances that would follow—I did so with a renewed confidence in Big in China and a much deeper understanding of just what the book was and exactly what it meant to me.
[Thanks, Alan! Listen to an excerpt from Alan reading from Big in China on the author's website, where you can also watch videos of his band, Woodie Alan. Want more recommendations of great travel memoirs? Check out BookPage's March world travel roundup.]
Kristina McMorris' debut novel, Letters from Home (Kensington) is a World War II love story with a twist: It's based on McMorris' own grandfather's letters to his sweetheart—her grandmother. Here, the Portland author writes about the unique challenges this premise created for her work.
The challenges of writing historical fiction—when those who lived it are around to correct you!
guest post by Kristina McMorris
Finding inspiration to write my first novel, Letters from Home, was relatively simple. My grandmother had saved every one of the love letters my grandfather sent to her during World War II. Based on those beautiful pages, I imagined a Cyrano de Bergerac twist to their story, and voila! I had the premise of my book.
I brainstormed. I outlined. And then—oh, yes—I researched. A lot.
At first, my main motivation for accuracy stemmed from my fear of critics' feedback—namely from those ever-scary "anonymous" Amazon reviewers who supply their lengthy critiques in the form of bullet points. The deeper I delved into research, however, the more responsibility I felt to do justice to our humble veterans, whose sacrifices secured the freedoms we too often take for granted.
Writing historicals about any era poses a great number of challenges. In my case, I was featuring a period in which many of those who lived through it are still alive to call me a "nincompoop" over potential errors. (Not saying they'd use that word, precisely; but it's a great word, isn't it?)
On the upside, I eventually realized I had a wonderful opportunity that most historical authors don't: the possibility of hearing true accounts of the era firsthand. Before I knew it, my research process gained in-depth momentum. I had the pleasure of interviewing a wide variety of veterans, and even befriended a few members of the famed "Band of Brothers."
While I've gained an enormous amount of knowledge from textbooks, archivists, docents, and memoirs, no experience has compared to listening to tales from men who actually fought in the trenches. I'll never forget the Japanese-American vet who grew teary as he described the day that, unknowingly, he watched his own brother—an airman for the Japanese Empire—being shot down in a fighter plane overhead.
Sadly, two of the vets I met have passed away. Estimates claim we're losing a thousand of them daily, likely more. Hopefully, though, their amazing accounts and, perhaps more importantly, the lessons they've shared will live on through the written word. For that, I feel honored to contribute. And if, in the end, I still earn the label of a "nincompoop," it certainly won't be for lack of trying to get their stories right.
Kristina McMorris resides in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and their two sons, bundles of energy who take pride in transforming any cylindrical household object into a weapon. She is a former host of "Weddings Portland Style" and a winner of the Golden Heart. Find out more on her website.
March is Women's History month, which makes it a good time to reflect on your favorite female writers. Today, novelist Cynthia Eden, whose Deadly series is published by Grand Central (we loved the latest installment, Deadly Lies) shares a few of her thoughts on the subject with us.
Historical women writers who inspired me
guest post by Cynthia Eden
For centuries, women writers have been penning tales that have inspired and captured the imaginations of their readers.
When I was a teenager, the great Mary Shelley introduced me to monsters. Her monsters didn’t scare me. They showed me that there were no limits to the imagination. She taught me that even during the 1800s, women weren’t afraid to face their darkest nightmares…and to put those nightmares down on paper. Frankenstein boldly showed the wicked intent that can lurk in the human heart.
Virginia Woolf revealed the need for A Room of One’s Own. With her help, I realized the importance of feminine thought and development in literature. Literature isn’t just a man’s domain; instead, women have been penning tales and creating stories for centuries. Our ideas can shake the world. They can give hope, or, in Shelly’s case, even give rise to a few nightmares in readers.
Emily Dickinson taught me to appreciate the beautiful simplicity that can be found in poetry even as her words settled in my heart and I realized the importance of living life to its absolute fullest. Dickinson wrote, “I could not stop for death, he kindly stopped for me.” Death will have to stop for me one day, because I will be far too busy to wait on him. Life should be experienced to the fullest, every moment savored.
And it was Charlotte Bronte who showed me the power of love. Obstacles cannot matter, and fate—it can be changed. Beautiful words can impact the human spirit. Readers can come to see characters as real beings. Readers will care for them, they will cheer for them, and, yes, they will cry for them. Literature impacts the emotions. It makes you feel.
These important female writers in history all made me feel. Their words have stayed with me over the years, and, when I am in need of comfort, I turn back to their books even today. These women may have slipped away as the years passed and as Dickinson’s Death stopped for them, but their words will live on forever—and I am very grateful to them for teaching me about the power of dreams.
[Thanks Cynthia! To find out more about the Deadly series, visit her website—or read our review of Deadly Lies. Interested in more writing about women's history? Check out our March feature on "Strong women who paved the way."]
As St. Patrick's Day approaches, author Mary Pat Kelly is celebrating the paperback release of her novel Galway Bay. In a guest post, Kelly reflects on how the country's history of resilience can help them through present-day problems.
Bouncing back from catastrophe
guest post by Mary Pat Kelly
St. Patrick’s Day. Forty million Irish-Americans invite the whole country to a grand party. We march. We sing. We dance. We toast Slainte, we say. Good Health. Good Luck. Prosperity for All.
Except this year the economic crisis in Ireland casts a shadow. Major articles in Vanity Fair and the New York Times Magazine portray a people too bowed down under the burden of debt and a horrific clerical abuse scandal, to lift their heads let alone other people’s spirits. Yet while the Irish do face serious challenges, and the anger they feel at government, business and church leaders is certainly justified, still there is a deeper truth contained in the history of the people of Ireland and their descendents in America that needs re-stating. It’s all about resilience.
During decades of research for my historical novel Galway Bay, based on the life of my great-great-grandmother Honora Kelly, I saw again and again how the Irish, driven to the edge of extinction, somehow survived. As Honora said to her great-granddaughter who repeated it to me, “We wouldn’t die, and that annoyed them.”
“Them” being the English conquerors who seized Irish land then rented it back to the original owners. The rates were so exorbitant that all crops had to be handed over to the landlord as payment . . . except for the potato, which the English distained. But this gnarly vegetable, which became the Irish people’s only staple food, was in reality a secret weapon. The potato had unimagined nutritional value.
It’s all about resilience.
Then Honora sounds the anthem of resistance, “But we didn’t all die. Two million of us escaped—one reaching back to the next. Surely one of the great rescues in human history. We saved ourselves, helped only by God and our own strong faith. And now look at us, doing well all over the world.”
So never underestimate the Irish people. Think of Northern Ireland. In 1985 I covered a U.S. conference on the conflict attended by all of the Irish political parties, North and South. Those were also trying times. When John Hume spoke of peace it seemed an impossible dream. Yet 14 years later voters would choose peace and Hume would win the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in ending the troubles.
One night at the conference after a difficult day the young Fine Gael delegate Enda Kenny astonished us all by delivering John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in a perfect Boston accent. As he spoke we were reminded of Irish resilience. After all, the Kennedys themselves were refugees from the Great Starvation. Now this same Enda Kenny is the new Taoiseach (prime minister). The Irish people have voted for change in unprecedented numbers. So this St. Patrick’s Day Enda Kenny will bring the traditional bunch of shamrocks to another young U.S. president with Irish roots. Barack Obama’s ancestors also endured Ireland’s greatest catastrophe and escaped to build new lives in America. They didn’t die.
As these two men meet I am reminded of the old Irish saying, “It’s a long road that has no turning." History’s arc does bend toward justice. So let the bagpipes call forth the marchers. Let the banners wave. We are celebrating a heritage of resilience. Happy St. Patrick’s Day.
Kim Harrison is known for her sexy urban fantasy novels starring witches and demons—but the best-selling writer has a secret life that features "jeans and scuffed boots" that are a far cry from her leather-clad author photos. Today, in honor of the publication of her latest book, Pale Demon (Harper), Harrison gives us the scoop on her double life.
guest post by Kim Harrison
“So, what do you prefer? Kim or Dawn?” It’s almost always the first question I’m asked when I meet professionals in my field. I usually smile, touch my hair, and say, “I’m Dawn, today,” if I’m a blonde wearing jeans and scuffed boots. But if I’m wearing my event wig—a bold reddish auburn that goes past my shoulders—I grin and say, “I’ve got my Kim on. Better stick to that so no one gets confused.”
Split personality? No, though I will freely admit that I frequently have conversations with myself. Secret agent on the run? Not likely, though I’ve been known to take people-watching to the level of an Olympic sport. No, it’s something so banal, so dull that when people find out I’ve got a second persona stuffed in my closet, they scratch there heads and ask me, “Why?”
I’m a writer, who, through contractual obligations and a large shift in writing style, found it easier to create a second, public persona than try to reconcile the old with the new. It didn’t hurt that booksellers will give new talent a bigger push than one with a slow but steady track record. In this case, it has seemed to have worked.
Get-my-Kim-on is more than the wig and black signing clothes, though. It’s almost become a job title, a name tag, if you will, that I wear when I go from the sedate, 8-10 hour day at the keyboard with little human contact to the plane-jumping, speech-giving, always-smiling publicity hound that is what most readers see when they meet their favorite authors.
Author appearances have always been a part of book promotions, and I’m continual reminded of the Westminster Dog Show where it’s obvious that those beautiful animals being paraded before all have never seen a cow or sheep, but they need to look like they can do the things that their working counterparts still do today. I think readers are the same way. They know that the person sitting behind the signing desk isn’t really out there fighting bad guys, making spells, or solving crimes, but if they look like they might be able too, it makes the experience all the more fun—and that’s what a book event should be. Fun. So Kim has long red hair, stylish boots and a penchant for wearing black. I’ll admit that she’s sort of rubbed off on me over the years—in a good way, of course. Kim has class, and I have tatty slippers.
And when I get home, I have the luxury of being able to peel off the layers of show, smiles and graciousness so I can be my old crotchety self again, stumbling about in search of that first cup of coffee.
Leslie Tentler just spent the weekend on the road touring in support of her first novel, Midnight Caller (MIRA). In a guest post, she talks about the experience of signing at Books-A-Million stores in Kingsport and Johnson City, Tennessee, near her hometown.
My father was a bit of a celebrity in my small hometown in Eastern Tennessee. He coached high school football there for over two decades and to this day, I can’t watch "Friday Night Lights" without getting homesick. The show is authentic. It takes me back, every time.
My parents are both gone now (my mother was a well-loved teacher there, as well), and I do wonder what they would think about the release of my first novel. Both would be proud, I believe, although I recall many years earlier telling my mother of my dream to be a published author. She said, “Just don’t write anything that would embarrass me,” which to her I’m sure meant no profanity or adult situations, and no violence.
I failed on all three counts but I still think somehow she would be proud.
Coming home for two local book signings and a local television show was more overwhelming than I expected. As someone who has lived and worked in Atlanta for many years now, I’ve drifted away from childhood friends. I have to admit to envying my former classmates who remain in our town and are adult friends with many of the same people they knew as kids. I miss that closeness that I’ve never been able to recapture as a “big city” girl.
It was this same group of friends who planned a “girls’ night out” that included me on the Friday prior to my first book signing. I was admittedly nervous. I’ve changed. I’m older and have gotten out of shape while pumping out the first book and the two others that form the Chasing Evil trilogy. I feel like a mom who’s given birth to three babies back to back. One toddling around, one just beginning to crawl and the third a newborn still in my arms. I’m pretty sure I have metaphorical spit-up on my shoulder.
But what I see that night are friendly, familiar faces who are just happy to be together and are also excited for me. “The girls” show up for my signing the next afternoon, even though quite a few of them have already bought and read the book. Still, they buy another at the bookstore. It’s a surreal experience and also a deeply touching one.
Two nights before my first hometown signing, I go to one of the bookstores with my former stepmother who has taken me out to dinner. She politely asks me if the store will mind if she buys all the copies on the shelf that night for family and friends. I tell her I’m pretty sure they won’t and that they have more copies in the back for the signing. As she pays at checkout, I have tears in my eyes.
The weekend visit to my hometown was a whirlwind, filled with interviews, time with family and long-lost friends, and me, writing notes in people’s books in the shaky handwriting I’m so ashamed of. But they don’t seem to mind that it looks as though a second-grader signed it. At this moment, I want to throw my arms around each of them and ask if I can sleep in their spare bedroom or on their couch; stay for just a few more days.
I’m not ready to go back to Atlanta, but Monday has arrived.
Thanks Leslie! For more info on her appearances, check her website. Look for the second book in the Chasing Evil trilogy, Midnight Fear, in August.
BookPage contributor Alden Mudge has been interviewing authors for more than 20 years. In a guest post, he reflects on a common thread among his three most recent interviews: Starbucks.
As a standard-issue Berkeley resident, I am a fierce loyalist of Peet’s Coffee. French Roast, to be exact. So of course I look with snifty disdain on the thin brew served at a-Starbucks-on-every-corner.
But credit where credit’s due. In the past three months, every novelist I’ve interviewed has mentioned writing some chunk of her novel at a local Starbucks.
Téa Obreht, whose remarkably assured first novel will be featured in next month’s issue of BookPage, usually writes on a desk she’s carted around from house to house over the last five years. But, she says, a portion of The Tiger’s Wife was composed at a corner table in the local Starbucks in Ithaca, New York.
Lisa Genova, who was interviewed about her second novel, Left Neglected, last month, has a “beautiful writing room. It’s the sunroom of the house. It’s all windows and we overlook a saltwater creek that leads out to the ocean.”
But as a mother of young children, she says she can’t write there. “There are too many distractions. I think, I’m home, I should throw in a load of laundry. I should call the repair guy. Household duties loom heavy over me when I’m here.” So what does she do? She goes to the local Starbucks in Chatham on Cape Cod. “There’s nothing else to do there but write the book.”
And then there is the very funny Karen Russell—author of Swamplandia!, and, like Téa Obreht, one of the exceptionally talented young writers named to the New Yorker’s 20 best writers under 40 list. Russell says she has to leave her apartment to write because it’s so teeny, tiny. So a lot of her debut novel was composed at a Starbucks on 181st Street in Manhattan.
A year ago she won a Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library, where they gave her “this beautiful office space to write in. It was like getting this amazing promotion. I think I embarrassed everyone. I was like, ‘look at this! The drawers open soundlessly!’ They looked at me like they were wondering if I’d been homeless or something.” Now she’s back writing at her Starbucks again. “I was away for a year writing in my fantastic library office and now I’m back. We never exchange words but I just feel like the vibe is ‘Oh, look who has come crawling back. Guess it didn’t work out so well, so you’re drinking your vente in the corner again.’ ”
So credit to Starbucks. But a query: Whatever happened to that old, ideal image of the writer in his garret or a room of her own? What could it mean that so many writers now prefer to work out there in public, in front of everyone?