Stephen King has named novelist, Peter Abrahams, his favorite suspense thriller author. The New York Times Book Review calls him “criminally gifted.” The author of 27 novels (most of which are critically acclaimed & all bestsellers), there’s no denying he’s incredibly prolific.
Recently I had the pleasure of interviewing Abrahams. Here’s what he told me:
YOU’VE NOW WRITTEN 27 NOVELS. WHO TYPICALLY READS YOUR NEW WORK FIRST?
DESCRIBE WHAT YOUR LIFE WAS LIKE WHEN YOU WERE STILL A STRUGGLING WRITER.
I worked as a spearfisherman in the Bahamas, and later worked in radio. Then I had an idea for a novel.
DESCRIBE YOUR WRITING ENVIRONMENT.
I write in the room over the garage, with a view of a salt marsh. It’s a detached garage, so I have a 15-foot commute; important psychologically.
DO YOU HAVE A DAILY PAGE GOAL? WORD GOAL?
I try for 1000 words a day, and sometimes actually get there. But the important thing is to advance the story, even if by a little bit, every day. Then you don’t get stuck.
WOULD YOU SAY THAT YOU’RE AN EFFECTIVE TIME MANAGER?
No, but my publishing history says yes.
OVER THE YEARS, HAVE YOU REFINED YOUR WRITING PROCESS?
Tough question. I would say I’m more willing now to indulge in the parts that come more easily, like dialogue, for example. I’m also writing in the first person, which I never did before.
Hard to say – Oblivion, Their Wildest Dreams and A Perfect Crime would be on the list.
I NOTICED YEARS AGO WHEN READING “THE TUTOR” THAT YOU WRITE VERY WELL FROM YOUNG PEOPLE’S PERSPECTIVES. IN “THE TUTOR,” IT WAS RUBY. HOW DID YOU DISCOVER THAT YOU HAD AN AFFINITY FOR WRITING FROM A CHILD’S PERSPECTIVE?
Just by doing it. But don’t forget, and it may be hard to believe, but I was once a child myself. You weren’t the only one to notice Ruby. So did an editor in NYC, and that led directly to the Echo Falls series.
DO YOU OUTLINE?
I no longer outline. There might be notes on a scrap of paper here and there, but my handwriting is so bad I get frustrated trying to decipher it.
WHAT TRAITS WOULD YOU SAY A WRITER NEEDS IN ORDER TO SUCCEED IN YOUR BUSINESS?
There’s succeeding in the business and there’s being a good writer. Self-discipline, persistence, perfectionism for the first. Talent for the second.