I was literally jumping up and down when Will agreed to take part in Behind The Books so I am absolutely ecstatic to today welcome Will Hill to Books 4 Teens to talk about a day in his life. Will also gives us an insight into the other steps involved – the planning and editing, it just goes to show how much work goes into writing a book!
So, without further ado over to Will…
Day In The Life of Will Hill
By Will Hill
Thanks very much for having me on Behind The Books!
I’m incredibly lucky, as I’m able to write full time. Which isn’t always as lovely and pleasant and easy as it may sound, but does mean that I’m able to devote myself completely to writing, which is a luxury that I’m very aware of. My (amazing!) editor and I have managed to get into a rough pattern that fills my writing year – from January to July/August I plan and write a first draft, we edit it through the late summer and autumn, and then copyedit and proofread in the months before Christmas. If all goes well, we can lock the manuscript before everyone goes on holiday in December, and then start all over again in January.
My working life differs during those three phases. When I’m planning, I normally stay at home with notebooks and pens and sheets of A3 paper, listening to music and scribbling and sketching and writing down little bits of ideas that will one day hopefully become fully formed.
I also stay at home when I’m editing, which is (perhaps weirdly) the period I actually enjoy the most, when my (amazing!) editor and I take hold of the first draft (which is usually very long and loose) and start squeezing it into shape. I listen to a lot of music during these stages of the process, and watch a lot of familiar films and TV, anything that clears my head and let’s me focus on what’s happening on the pages in front of me.
In between those two periods are the months when I actually write the vast majority of the words that make up the books themselves. And a day from that period is what I’ll describe here…
7.30am My girlfriend’s alarm goes off, as she has a real job, and she disappears towards the shower. I drag myself out of bed, make tea and coffee, and catch up on email, Twitter and Facebook while she gets ready.
8.20am Girlfriend leaves for work. I fight the overwhelming urge to go back to bed, and stagger into the shower.
9.00am I pack my bag – notebooks, laptop, pencils, sharpener, rubber, headphones – and head for the station. We live in Stoke Newington, in east London, so it’s not a very long journey into the centre of the capital.
9.30am Fight my way through the commuters at King’s Cross, duck into the Euston Road Prêt for caffeine and an almond croissant, and make my way into the lovely British Library plaza. At this point my spirits generally start to pick up (it will be very clear to you all by now that I’m not a morning person!) and I start replying to Tweets and emails while I have breakfast.
9.45am Check in at the British Library. Bags and outdoor coats are not permitted in the reading rooms, the huge quiet spaces where members work and research and write in blissful silence, so you have to put your stuff in a locker (these lockers are at a premium during exam season when it seems like half of London’s university students descend on the Library to write their dissertations, so an early start is pretty essential) then take whatever you need into the rooms in clear plastic bags. This is to make sure you don’t try and steal anything from the collection, sadly.
10.00am I settle into one of the desks in the Rare Books and Music reading room, and remember how much I like it here. The desks are huge, the chairs are comfortable, the wifi is free and it’s so, so quiet. I put my headphones in and hit play on my DVD of Glengarry Glen Ross, which I always have on in the background when I’m writing. I’ve listened to it literally thousands of times, so I barely hear it any more – it’s become like incredibly well written white noise, and it instantly puts me in the right mindset for work.
10:05am Cigarette break.
10:10am I start work. Depending on where I am in a project, I either jump straight into the current chapter or crack open the synopsis. I always start out with certain scenes that I know are going to feature in the story, and then gradually fill in the spaces between them until I have an at least partly coherent plot. I turn that into a rough chapter list, then start writing synopses, until I have a page or so for each chapter. Then I start writing. I try to always end each day with a chapter underway, even if all I’ve written is the first paragraph – it makes it so much easier to pick that up and carry on the next morning, as opposed to opening a blank page.
10.10am I get up and go for a wander around the Library, before grabbing a drink of water and heading back to my desk.
10.15am Back to work.
10.40am I head outside and make the first of whatever phone calls I need to make that day – my girlfriend, best friend, agent and editor are the likeliest candidates, in that order – before buying an espresso and staring blankly into space for a little while.
11:00am Back to work.
11:25am Cigarette break.
11:40am Back to work.
12:45pm I head over the road to Prêt, where I go so often I know almost all of the staff’s names, and pick up some food. I eat it in the plaza, and check email, Twitter and Facebook, in case something of enormous importance has happened in the ten minutes or so since the last time I checked them.
1:30pm Back to work.
The next couple of hours tend to play out in a similar pattern to the morning, but with an increasing amount of espressos and biscuits required to keep me going…
3:30pm Words start to come. I don’t know why, but somewhere between 3pm and 4pm things always start to happen. It’s a bit ridiculous, and I’ve tried just going into the Library in the afternoon to take advantage of the period when it usually goes well, but that never works – I seem to need the long hours of the morning to gather my thoughts, to let the ideas start to take shape. It’s weird. But then writing is weird, and everyone does it differently…
7:00pm I call it a day, unless the words are really flowing, in which case I stay until they throw me out at 8pm. On an average day I’ll normally have written somewhere between 2,500 and 4,500 words, on a good day a few more. The most I’ve ever written in one day was 8,500, but that was one utterly crazy twelve-hour session in which I barely looked up from my keyboard.
7:45pm Home. Girlfriend, food, telly, bed.
And the next day I do it again. Unless it’s Saturday or Sunday, which I try not to work on. There are fewer advantages to being with an author than you might think, so I try and make sure my girlfriend at least gets to enjoy the weekends without me staring endlessly at my laptop and cursing some word that refuses to present itself when I need it. It doesn’t always work out that way – when deadlines get tight, all days become fair game, and seven days a week becomes the norm. It’s OK, you’re allowed to feel sorry for her
So that’s it. That’s my writing day, perhaps not as full as glamour and champagne and fancy lunches as you were expecting. Just me, being miraculously allowed to spend my time making things up and writing them down, to borrow a description from Nail Gaiman. I’m still waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and tell me to get a real job. But until that happens…
The pulse-pounding sequel to DEPARTMENT 19 – “The best action horror story I have ever read” according to Bookzoneforboys…
91 DAYS TILL ZERO HOUR.
THAT’S 91 DAYS TO RUN.
91 DAYS TO HIDE.
OR 91 DAYS TO PRAY FOR DEPARTMENT 19 TO SAVE YOU…
After the terrifying attack on Lindisfarne at the end of the first book, Jamie, Larissa and Kate are recovering at Department 19 headquarters, waiting for news of Dracula’s stolen ashes.
They won’t be waiting for long.
Vampire forces are gathering. Old enemies are getting too close. And Dracula… is rising.
Thank you to Will for taking part in Behind The Books! If you’d like to find out more about Will you can check out his website www.willhillauthor.com , follow Will on Twitter @willhillauthor and you can like the Department 19 Facebook page.