(Based on spending the last three days in a group of children’s authors, illustrators, and editors)
1. The writing process. Different writers work in so many different ways, and I think we are endlessly fascinated by how others write, even if we could never happily create stories the same way. There’s also a certain amount of wondering what others have gotten away with and what’s normal, and trying to troubleshoot the difficult parts.
Sample conversations: Usual chapter lengths; trying out new genres.
2. The publishing process. Similar to the above–different publishing houses work in different ways, and even within the same house different authors may have varying experiences. Can’t help being curious what to expect down the line, or how to deal if things aren’t going quite the way we’d like.
Sample conversations: Making changes during copyedits and page proofs; cover design and what to do if you don’t like something about yours.
3. Books in general. Most writers are readers, so this is a given. Sometimes we’re talking as pure fans, about a book we just loved and want everyone else to read, and sometimes we’re talking from a writing perspective, about how a certain book succeeded or failed and what techniques the author used.
Sample conversations: Great books that no one else seems to have heard of; the ending of a particular book and how satisfying it was.
4. The day to day life of being a writer. Even when we’re talking about more everyday concerns, like family and food, there’s often a writing slant to the topic. Probably because most of us don’t get to hang out with other writers all that often, and it’s nice to be able to talk about our lives in context with people who get it.
Sample conversations: Scheduling writing time around a day job and family activities; places we’re going to for research or conferences.
And of course there is also the usual people-getting-to-know-each-other talk about where we live and went to school and that sort of thing, mixed in.
So if you ever wondered, now you know. 😉