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The Outhouse Interview: Greg Rucka

Written by Royal Nonesuch on Wednesday, August 03 2011 and posted in Features

The_Last_Run_A_Queen_and_Country_Novel_by_Greg_Rucka_Tara_Chace_spyOH:  What is your process like? When you have a story idea, what comes next? Notes? Outline? Is it different depending on the book?

GR:  I tend to do a page breakdown. It won’t be incredibly detailed, but what I try to do is think “ok, I have twenty pages for this story. These are the things that have to happen in it, how am I going to work it out?” And then the writing of course changes all that. I also find that I really like the editorial process. I really enjoy having and editor that I can call and say “this is what I’m thinking” and bounce ideas off them and hear their response and hear their ideas. Steve is very good at that, so it’s a very easy relationship.

OH:  Does it work the same way when you’re writing novels?

GR:  Yeah, it’s very similar, actually. In this case I spend a lot of time talking to my agent and telling him “this is what I’m thinking.” [laughs] I find that I need to verbalize a story, I need to speak it before I can write it. I’m not sure why that is. I’m not sure how I’ve evolved to that point, but the last couple of years I’ve found it much easier to work that way; to have someone to talk to and have another set of ears. I find that verbalizing helps me crystallize the ideas. Also, I’ll surprise myself and see things that I didn’t see when it was just bouncing around in my head. Especially on a novel, you’re talking about a long-form project, it’s something that can take a month, or six months, or a year to write. When you’re trying to sustain an idea for that long, you need to keep feeding it, you need to keep it sporing and an idea that is that long for me very rarely stays the same from conception to execution. Also I’ll find myself in a position where I’m saying “all right, I’ve reached this point in the writing and thinking about this character, and that changes something that I thought I was going to do. There have been some books where I’ve had moments that brought the book to a screeching halt because something happens in the writing that I didn’t anticipate and has forced me to reevaluate where I’m going. Sometimes it goes pretty much by the numbers, but in a way I find that less satisfying. It’s not quite as exciting. It’s not the same as when you can feel the project sort of come to life.

OH:  Has there ever been a case where your idea for a novel, as it evolves, morphs into something too big, and you have to shave it down?

GR:  Sometimes it can do that. Sometimes you think “well I can go this way, but if I go that way, this novel is going to be 500,000 words long, and that’s a big frickin’ book!” Most of the time if it gets that out of control, it normally means that the book is offering to go in a direction where I don’t want it to go. As I said, there was at least one novel where I hit the halfway point and the book just said “No you’re wrong, we’re not doing that.” It ended up going in a radically different direction, but yeah, in a much broader, much bigger direction.


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About the Author - Royal Nonesuch

As Senior Media Correspondent (which may be a made-up title), Royal Nonesuch tends to spearhead a lot of film and television content on The Outhouse. He's still a very active participant in the comic book section of the site, though. Nonesuch writes reviews of film, television, and comics, and conducts interviews for the site as well.  You can reach out to him on Twitter or with Email.


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