I teased a new surprise last week. This is it. Through either bravery, dumbassery or some weird, squishy place in between, I’ve decided to take on another 50,000 word challenge.
But this time I ain’t going it alone. I found an equally psychotic friend to take the challenge with me. Actually, it was kind of his idea, and I’m glad he had it. He’s one of my first and best friends in the writing world. His name is Kevin Bufton, author of Cake and editor for Cruentus Libri Press. If you don’t know him, you should.
I’ve never met Kevin in the flesh, but I hope I do someday. But I have picked his brain over several things and thanks to the ease with which the world we live in allows communication; I call him a good friend.
He once referred to me as a brother. Which I was cool with. Until he went on to say I was the brother that they keep locked in the attic. I clarified, and let the Facebook world know that I was fine with that as long as everyone knew that he did feed me three cans of cat food a week. Too bad he left it sitting out in the sun.
We thought it’d be fun to take on this challenge together so we said fuck it, and now we’re doing it. The challenge is that we both hit at least 50,000 words on a brand new novel that we are not allowed to start until September 1. End date is last day of September. I haven’t looked, but it fucking better be 31 days long.
We’re both hoping to publish said novel in 2014.
If either one of us fails to hit 50,000 words on a new novel, the other gets to name a character after the failure of an author that didn’t hit 50k and humiliate the shit out of them in the most despicable of ways.
There’s a lot on the line here folks.
I hope some of you will take the challenge with us!
And to kick things off, we thought it would be fun to interview each other. The questions and answers follow.
We’ll keep you posted. And cheers to a productive September!
Kevin Bufton Interviews Kerry G.S. Lipp
KB: This isn’t the first time each of us has taken a stab at writing a novel, and things inevitably peter out before we reach the end. What makes you think this will be any different to all the other times you’ve tried?
KL: Well, outside of the threat of fictional humiliation… Haha. I really want to prove to myself that I can finish something longer. I’ve invested quite a bit in myself, money, time, and several other decisions and I feel like this is a great opportunity to take a big writing step. I don’t know if you know this or not, but I’m actually on vacation for the first week of September and I’m really hoping to get a head start that week. And later in the month my secret weapon is that I’m going to Killercon and writing boot camp. Usually towards the end of a productive month things start to unravel. I’m really hoping that Killercon is nothing but boots to asses when I need it the most.
KB: You’ve written a bunch of short stories and had them published in anthologies and magazines the world over. Will you approach writing the novel them same way as you would a short story? If not, how will your strategy differ?
KL: Over the year and a half that I’ve been at this, my short story process has really evolved. My short story first drafts for the most part have been coming out pretty clean lately. Maybe that’s luck maybe not, but I think I write a little bit slower now than I used to. With this novel though, I’m going full on warpath and I’m just going to write as fast as I can for as long as I can each time I sit down and I’ll sort it all out in during the infinite revisions. I want the words!
KB: What is the soundtrack to your writing experience? Do you have certain songs, or artists, or do you write in deathly silence?
KL: I used to always write to music. Usually metal with a little rock, country and Eminem sprinkled in. Devil Driver, Chimaira, Hatebreed, stuff like that really got me going. Lately I’ve been doing a lot of my writing in public and listening to nothing but the background noise of whatever’s going on around me.
KB: What’s your first sentence going to be?
KL: I don’t know. Shit, I don’t even know if I’m going to write it in first or third person. Or if my lead is going to be male or female haha. I am leaning toward third person female though. But I do know what the first scene is going to be. One of my greatest (irrational) fears brought to the page and I’m hoping to keep it pedal to the metal from there. If my idea, and that’s all it really is at this point, stays even close to it’s origin, this story will have a heavy emphasis on the dark and all the nastiness and fear and emotion that the dark can bring. How’s that for a vague teaser?
KB: If all goes well, you’ll come out of this with the lion’s share of the first draft of your debut novel. Of the various authors you have read, whose debut do you find most impressive?
KL: Excellent question. I’ve got a few. Off Season by Jack Ketchum is my first choice. But I’ll also throw The Cellar by Richard Laymon in there. Knockemstiff by Donald Ray Pollack. I’m sure I’m missing a ton of great ones. And though Carrie was King’s debut I think I read somewhere that The Long Walk was actually the first novel he completed. That book ranks very near my favorites with King and just books overall. I love that fucking book.
Kerry G.S. Lipp Interviews Kevin Bufton
KL: I’m guessing at some point your debut novella Cake ran over or close to 50,000 words. How long did it take you to finish the first draft of Cake and what’s the most important thing you learned during that writing process that you can use when you begin this new project?
KB: That’s overplaying it a little. At its height, Cake clocked in at around 30000 words (later edited down by a third to 20000 or so), and it took me six weeks to pen that first draft. The most important thing I learned was not to give a shit about the first draft. It has taken me quite some time, but I finally realised that, until I send it off to a publisher, nobody but me sees what goes into that first draft, so there’s no need to get all panicky if things aren’t perfect – probably the number one cause of writer’s block.
KL: 50,000 words in a month comes out to a little over 1,500 words a day. Do you plan on writing everyday? What’s your word goal per day? Or do you come at it from a completely different angle?
KB: I’ll be writing every day, as I always do (occasional breaks for sanity aside), and I’ll be writing as much as I can manage. I always look to hit 1000 a day, which means I may need to pull a couple of all-nighters to keep on track.
KL: Are there any other writing projects you’ll be working on along side this novel? Will you be blogging, working on short stories, editing etc? How do you feel about tackling so many projects at once or abandoning everything but this novel?
KB: I made myself a promise a few weeks back, that I would only ever work on two projects at a time. Basically, I had so many projects on the go at one time that it actually became depressing – deadlines were being missed, no one story was getting the attention it deserved. So, I’m going to be writing this novel, and putting the finishing touches to my debut solo collection Six of the Best: A Hellish Half-Dozen, which is due out on 25th September (blatant plug there!). I’m also hosting a series of guest posts on my blog (http://buftonsblog.wordpress.com) throughout September, where writers get to let off steam and rant about something they hate about the writing process, but since that’s just copying, pasting and posting, I’m happy enough with that.
KL: What’s your go to writing fuel, food, drink or both, to indulge in when you’re mashing your keyboard?
KB: Tea (I am British, after all), sparkling water and cigarettes. I never eat while I’m writing, because I don’t want to get crumbs under the keyboard. Likewise, I never drink alcohol while writing, not because I want to keep a clear head, but because a couple of pints will have me dozing off.
KL: You’ve edited several anthologies with Cruentus Libri Press. Though with CLP you were doing short stories, what did you learn from that experience that strengthens you as a writer and more to the current point, a novel writer?
KB: I think I have definitely got better a structuring a story, and adding layers to it. I moved from drabbles, to flash fiction, to short stories to a novella and, at each stage, I feel I’ve grown as a writer, and not just in terms of word count. I’ve moved from pretty linear tales like ‘Roots’ (farmer and his sons in the Old West are terrorised by killer tumbleweeds) to something like ‘Mother’s Milk’ where I’ve added foreshadowing, backstory and context to a fairly simple premise. Now I’m ready to spread my wings even further, with a tale that involves English and Scottish folklore, a house under siege, hideous disfigurement and a certain amount of headfuckery.
So there you have it – a brief insight into insanity, from the boy Lipp, and me. If you’re a regular visitor to The Horror Tree, then you’re doubtless familiar with Kerry’s passion for all things horror, through his regular column here. I had the pleasure of being the first editor to accept one of his short stories for publication, and over the last 18 months or so, I’ve come to think of him as a very close friends. One of those friends that are so prevalent in these days of social networking, where we have never met in person, but I’m always elated to hear of his latest sale, or the next step in his journey towards horror superstardom.
That being said – a pretty damn well said, at that – I will have no hesitation in taking him down over the course of the next thirty days. I will rend the very skin from his flesh, and suck the marrow from his bones, leaving a desiccated husk in my wake. I’m usually the most genial and friendly chap you could wish to meet; a big bearded teddy bear, always ready with a manly hug, or a warm handshake, but this is a matter of pride. My apologies to your family and loved ones, Kerry, but it’ll be a closed casket funeral, once I’m through with you, my boy.
50,000 words in 30 days, or about half of my first novel. It’s going to be tough, and it’s going to be fun but, most importantly, it’s going to be DONE.
It’s a privilege to be taking part in this challenge with Kerry. I have no doubt that the friendly chiding and trash talking (and, yes, threats of dismemberment – we are horror writers, after all), will bring out the best in both of us. I’ve been itching to start on this thing since Kerry agreed to do it. I’ve got a strong central premise, a very rough plot outline, and a title for my book (It’s going to be called Stones – remember that name, kids, for when you pick it up in your local bookstore), and now the clock is counting down to the point where I can actually start that first chapter.
I know I’ve got the stones to finish this off (very small pun intended). Does Mr. Lipp? I guess we’ll find out in thirty.
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