B&D is honored to feature a post from Alon Shalev, author of The Accidental Activist. Let’s welcome Alon [rounds of applause and cheers from the audience]!
The Accidental Activist - Alon Shalev: The Creative Process
I was recently asked in a workshop how I find time to write. I had surprised the audience when I asserted the ability to write a 90,000 novel in 100 days. I write at this pace while holding down a challenging full-time job and being an active and involved husband, father, and community member. In fact, I have done this twice in 2011 and could keep writing if I didn't have to attend to marketing and promotion.
Many authors have their own personal framework: the sacred space in their house, listening to certain music, the writer's retreat, and many more. Whatever works for you is right, but my desk in our kitchen. I swivel my chair around and I am at the dinner table. I can write in coffee shops, on the train ride as I commute, or while several boys enjoy a rambunctious play-date in our tiny house.
Writing has always been a natural process for me and I rarely need to spend much time deliberating what my plot is going to be or developing my characters. From what I hear, this is not typical.
It is a state of mind. When I am writing a novel, I am in an intimate relationship with my characters. Since I do not plan my novels before writing, I am absorbed in the plot, sharing the thrill of what might happen next, just as my readers and characters experience it.
I am able to switch off, to leave my characters and focus at work or home, and switch back on when I have an hour to write. What I do think is important is that I am writing consistently. When I am in the creation process, I must write every day. In fact, I am pretty sure that I become quite insufferable when I am not keeping up with my characters.
The Accidental Activist, a political courtroom drama in which two young individuals are sued by a multinational corporation and need to defend themselves in court, is based upon a real court case. The food giant, McDonalds, sued two activists in England in the 1990's and the archaic legal system did not allow legal aid to be granted in a libel trial (they have since overhauled these laws because of this case). Try to blow up the Queen's Corgis (her dogs) and the state provided you with a lawyer, but not for libel. So the plot was pretty much laid out for me. With what happened there, I didn't need to embellish.
But even when I do not base a novel on something that really transpired the story has always quickly taken shape. For example, A Gardener's Tale is a reflection on the fast-disappearing rural life in England and the magic of the Pagan religion that still permeates village society, or Unwanted Heroes (release 01/12) which is a critical view of how we in America treat our war veterans, as seen though the eyes of a young English Kerouac-wannabe in San Francisco. The first draft to both these novels were each written in a quick and intensive period of time.
It is an amazing thrill, a rush, to see the novel come to life under my fingertips. It is what makes the periods between writing so frustrating, and what keeps me always coming back for more.
Alon, Thank you very much for sharing with us today! I always enjoy reading about a writer’s process. Each author is so different in the way they approach writing!
Now for the Giveaway!
Alon is offering up one (1) copy of The Accidental Activist! Giveaway is open internationally.
1. Follow instructions on entry form.
2. Winner will be chosen at random. If winner is in US or Canada, they will have their choice of a bound or ebook copy; if winner is international, the winner will receive an ebook copy.
3. I will check accuracy of winner's entry (don't lie, 'cause I'll find you out!)
4. Respond to notification email within 48 hours to claim prize. If winner does not respond, a new winner will be chosen.
5. Only entries that meet all requirements will be considered valid.
6. Entries will be accepted from Nov. 8—15.