Monday, November 22, 2010

A Peek at the Creative Space of Barrie Summy

Joining us this week for Creative Spaces is author Barrie Summy. Barrie is the author of a series of middle grade mysteries including I So Don't Do Mysteries, I So Don't Do Spooky, and the latest installment, I So Don't Do Makeup.

In I So Don't Do Mysteries, seventh-grader Sherry (short for Sherlock) is spending spring break in San Diego with her best friend when she is contacted by the ghost of her mom who was shot in the line of duty and needs Sherry's help in solving a case. Sherry juggles mystery sleuthing, tension with her best friend who thinks Sherry's lost it when she confides that she's been communicating with the ghost of her mother, and a serious crush on Josh the eighth-grade cutie. The story is peppered with lots of funny bits (like the ghost of her mother being summoned by coffee), and is a fun twisty-turny ride.

The second book in the series, I So Don't Do Spooky, was just released in paperback in October, and the fourth book in the series, I So Don't Do Famous, will be published next May.

To learn more about Barrie Summy and her books, visit her website and blog.


Describe your workspace.

My workspace changes depending on how close I am to a deadline and how far away I am from the end of the book!

This is my normal working space: a wide La-Z-y Boy in my living, a laptop, an end table and our dog, Dorothy. Dorothy sleeps in the chair, squished up next to me, whenever I’m writing.


This is my working space if a deadline is looming large, and I still have a bunch of words to go: a hotel!


Describe a typical workday.

Dorothy and I walk Child #4 to school. Once I get home, I make a cup of tea and my breakfast (if I didn’t eat with the kids), and write for the morning. I often write again at night when the house is dark and quiet.

List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.

Dorothy: She is completely nonjudgmental about what I write.

My blue mug: It is not too big, so my tea doesn’t get cold quickly.

Pencils that don’t need sharpening.


Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.

Well, I tidy the kitchen and make myself a cup of tea. While the tea is steeping, I throw in a load of laundry. I like the background noise AND I like multi-tasking, so it’s win-win. Then I feed our veiled chameleons. By now my tea is at the perfect temperature, so I settle down to write.


This is our female veiled chameleon, Lotta, munching on a cricket. I tried to snap her actually catching the cricket with her tongue, but I just couldn’t get the timing.


What do you listen to while you work?

The sound of the washer, the dryer and maybe the dishwasher. I only listen to music if I need to write faster.

What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?

Ice water (with or without flavoring), tea, diet Coke with tons of ice.

What keeps you focused while you’re working?


Getting off the internet! Sometimes I resort to my ancient laptop, which doesn’t have internet access.



Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?


I write on a computer, but I do keep a running notebook per manuscript, where I jot down thoughts, things to fix, etc.

How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?

I outline. Big time. Which doesn’t mean I don’t stray from the outline, but I like to write with a roadmap.

I start off with a recipe box with dividers for the main sections of the book. Then I slot in note cards with scene ideas wherever I think they’ll fit in the story.


If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?

Besides Dorothy? Hmmm…John Cusack, perhaps.

What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?

Plow through the first draft, no matter how horrible you think it is. Because you need something to revise, and you can’t revise a blank page.



4 comments:

  1. Barry's living room recliner/workspace looks just like my workspace! Except for Dorthy.

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  2. Thanks, Barry and thanks, Jen! Love the recipe card idea -- great way to cook up a book.

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  3. I like the recipe card box, and love the "first draft" comment. Thanks for the tips!

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  4. I LOVED this! I'm so nosy, and I adore seeing how different people write. So fun!

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