Today fantastic thriller writer Mason Cross joins me for Crime Writers In Cafes Procrastinating. As the title suggests, this feature is all about the lengths writers go to procrastinate when they should be writing, and how they (eventually) manage to win against the temptation of the path of procrastination to finish their books.
Mason’s latest novel – PRESUMED DEAD – features one of my favourite action heroes, the mysterious Carter Blake, and is a super fast paced, page turner of a read so I can’t wait to quiz him all about his writing and procrastination habits…
Welcome, Mason! So tell me all about your latest book – PRESUMED DEAD?
My latest one isPresumed Dead. Like my other novels, it stars Carter Blake, an investigator who specializes in finding people who don’t want to be found. In this case, he has a particularly tough challenge, when the brother of a girl thought murdered fifteen years before hires him because he believes she may still be alive…
It’s a little more small-scale and contained than some of my other books, and I really enjoyed writing a murder mystery for a change. So far only one reader has told me they were able to guess the ending.
How long did PRESUMED DEAD take to write?
I never really know how to answer this question, because I don’t know exactly what start and finish points count. It was probably something like a year from the original idea to signing off on page proofs, but there’s a lot of on/off work over that period (not to mention finishing the previous book and planning the next one)
For the initial chunk of work, probably about six months to get a draft I was able to send my editor.
What’s your favourite writing/procrastination spot – home, café, bar, other?
I can work in most places, but my ideal writing environment is definitely the train. Quiet, nice view, no interruptions, shitty wifi – it all helps me to focus on the writing.
What’s your writing process – do you jump straight in, or plan and plot first?
Plot a bit, come up with a good opening and some key scenes, sketch out an outline, and then go for it. There’s no point being too detailed before I start work as I’ll always change things as I write the first draft.
When you’re writing, do you find you procrastinate more at the beginning, middle or end of the draft, or equally across all three?
Probably the middle, when it seems like an insurmountable task and that everything you write sucks. I have a lot more energy in the first few chapters and the last few. Talking to other writers, this is fairly normal. I suspect a lot of unpublished novels were abandoned at the 40,000 word mark.
Do you prefer first drafts or edits (and why)?
Whichever one I’m not doing? Probably edits, because it’s easier to fix something that already exists than fill a blank page with something completely new.
When you’re procrastinating, what’s the activity you turn to most?
Faffing about on social media, admin, organizing stuff that has no relation to the book. I created a spreadsheet inventorying the contents of the freezer last time I had a deadline.
When you’re writing what’s your drink and snack of choice?
Coffee or ice tea to drink. I’m not a big snacker.
And how do you celebrate the completion of the book (you winning against procrastination)?
A cold beer and not writing anything or thinking about writing anything. It’s nice to see my family for a change, watch a movie, or read someone else’s book.
A huge thank you to Mason for letting me grill him on his writing habits and his biggest procrastination pitfalls.
PRESUMED DEAD is out now. Find out more over on Amazon by clicking on the book cover below: