John Scalzi

What did the Hugo winner do with that buttercrea­m frosting?


What is your daily writing routine like?

I usually write from about 9am to noon/1pm, or until I write 2,000 words, whichever comes first. Afternoons are for dealing with emails, writing on my site/social media and other business. Evenings are for family and/or videogames.

Do you have any knick-knacks on your desk?

Actually my desk is intentiona­lly small to avoid me keeping distractin­g things on it!

How do you deal with the urge to procrastin­ate?

I have nanny software that keeps me from accessing social media and new sites until noon, which helps. That said, sometimes procrastin­ating isn’t laziness; it’s your brain telling you it needs more time to problem-solve. It’s helpful to know the difference.

Is there anything about one of your books you wish you could travel back in time and “fix”?

Possibly fewer dialogue tags in the earlier books; when audiobooks became a thing all those “he said” bits, which are fine on the page, really stuck out in audio.

Do you have any writing “bad habits” that you have to keep in check?

I will write sentences that will take up entire pages and have 27 semicolons in them. I have to go back and break those up into sentences actual humans can follow.

Ever come up with a good plot idea in a dream?

No, but often when I go to bed, I’ll tell my brain to solve a plot problem while I sleep. When I wake up I’ll often have a new way to solve that problem. Is it a good way? Not always, but even that opens up new paths I hadn’t considered.

If you could recommend one book you love, what would it be?

I will forever stan The Goblin Emperor by Katharine Addison, which, while not unknown (it was nominated for a Hugo), is not nearly as well known as I think it should be.

Which SF book published in the last year most impressed you?

I genuinely enjoyed both Light From Uncommon Stars from Ryka Aoki and The Actual Star by Monica Byrne.

Where’s the oddest place you’ve seen one of your books?

The shelf of an Airbnb I rented; the spine was well-creased, so it had clearly been there for a while. I signed it and put it back on the shelf.

What’s the best – or strangest – gift you’ve received from a reader?

A two-litre tub of homemade buttercrea­m frosting. The context is complicate­d (it involves a bet, Neil Gaiman and a team of roller derby girls – no, really), but the buttercrea­m frosting was for “practice”. I leave the rest to your imaginatio­n.

What’s the biggest misconcept­ion people have about being a profession­al author?

That we spend most of our time writing. Most of us have day jobs, and the ones that don’t spend a lot of their time doing all the business around writing. It’s amazing how much time in my day I spend being busy but not doing writing.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received or read?

Don’t panic.

The Kaiju Preservati­on Society is on sale now, published by Tor.

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