Elizabeth Moon, Science Fiction and Fantasy Writer


When did you start writing?
Very young--I tried to write a book about our dog Tippy when I was six. A very bad, very boring first attempt. I gave up after a few laboriously printed pages.

Did you always want to be a writer?
No, I wanted to be a physicist...and a writer, and a painter, and a composer, and an astronaut and anything else that sounded interesting. But what I did (while wishing for many other things to land on me in a shower of gold) was write. I kept trying to stop writing (as it was "a waste of time" according to some) but that never worked.

Did you always write science fiction and fantasy?
No, I started out writing adventure stories about horses, dogs, and airplanes, bad verse about everything from where I lived to early angst, and some (fortunately never produced) plays. The musical "My Great-grandmother's Bustle" would have been a "howling" success, but more howl than success. I didn't discover science fiction until 9th grade.

Do you write every day? Do you have a writing schedule, a certain time to write, a certain amount to produce daily?
Yes, I write every day though some days are spent without writing on the current book project. Writing is a skill that requires practice; the more you write (mindfully) the better writer you can be.

I have a schedule, but it's a purely personal schedule, that works for me--it's not "the perfect schedule" that anyone else should follow. Because I'm a morning person, I first-draft in the morning, continuing as long as that day's work takes. I write to a word count, and when "on book" (see below) that's 2000 words/day, or 10,000/week. Or more, if the mood strikes, but as I get older, arthritis in my hands, makes 4000 and 5000 word days painful. I try to get large chunks (from half to the whole book) done in first draft before doing any revision, though if I see a typo I'll fix it.

At the start of a new project, and sometimes in the middle, I need to stop and think out a difficulty, or do background research. Time in the schedule for that is "not on book" writing and I don't bother with word count those days. Also upsetting "on book" days are common publishing chores (working on copy edits, reading page proofs, etc) on the previous book or books.

How many hours a day (week) do you write?
I write until the day's work is done. Some days, that's an hour or so before lunch; other days I'm still sitting there at 11 pm, grinding out the last hundred words. The non-writing writing work (the business side) takes 1-2 hours/day on average. This includes backing up files, updating blogs, answering business-related email, replacing supplies of ink, paper, etc. On a weekly basis, it ranges from 40 hours (light week) to 70 (when projects overlap inconveniently.) Forty hours spread over six main working days isn't that bad, but seventy is a PITA no matter what.

Do you always write on the computer?
90+% of the time is spent at the computer, but when traveling on short trips, if I don't bring the laptop, I write in a notebook and transfer to the computer at home.

Will you look at my manuscript?
No. And you should be glad, because I've been told I'm a ruthless, mean, nasty critic.

Why aren't your books available as e-books?
They are. Check publisher listings. Be aware that Baen Books provides books in Kindle-compatible format; read their page about that.

Why aren't your books available in every e-format?
That would be the publisher's decision, but I suspect cost has something to do with it. As e-book sales rise, they'll probably invest in making them available in more formats.

Do you design your own covers?
No, that's done by the publisher's art department.

What's your favorite ice cream?
Bluebell Homemade Vanilla.



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