Paperfury has another good Beautiful Books list of questions specifically for those of us pelting head-long through National Novel Writing Month – but also for those who wish to answer an interrogation on their novel’s behalf. Here’s mine.

1. Overall, how is your mental state, and how is your novel going?

Thank you for asking. My mental state is… peachy. Especially compared to where I was mentally and emotionally two weeks ago. My brother was unmarried, my best friend was unmarried, their wedding was imminent, and I was trying to wrap up a novel I had started almost exactly a year ago. Now, here I am, only writing 1,667 words a day instead of 2,000, with a new sister-in-law, and all my worries focused on slowly and systematically cleaning up from the wedding.

I’m feelin’ good, actually. Which is weird. It’s been so long since I’ve felt calm, rested, okay, and productive that this is slightly disconcerting. Basically, I’m feeling the opposite from how I should feel with NaNo (a rushed, panicked, finger-bleeding, neurotic mess). My sprinting in October conditioned me for NaNo, and the abrupt lack of activity which started on November 2nd has me in a good head space.

2. What’s your first sentence (or paragraph)?

Elizabeth watched the interrogation begin from the safety of the observation room. She pulled her hands inside her sweater sleeves and crossed her arms around her waist. Interrogations always made her nervous, no matter how many she was asked help with. The beige walls, lack of artwork, and boring carpet all seemed to her a harsh contrast with the colors of her gift.

3. Who’s your current favorite character in your novel?

Prooobably Yvetta. She hasn’t really made an entrance yet, and won’t for a while, but her absence is speaking volumes and the legacy she’s leaving behind her is hilarious.

4. What do you love about your novel so far?

EVERYTHING! The magic system is only just introduced, but it’s with a flash, a bang, some smoke, and the smell of petrichor. My protagonist is smart, but his amnesia is making life hard for him. The girl he’s with is adorable. And the old friend who showed up and warned him of impending doom scooted the plot in an actual direction. Yay!

5. Have you made any hilarious typos or other mistakes?

My last protagonist’s name was ‘Emmeline’ and now I have an ‘Elizabeth’ running around with my main character. The first several times I tried to type the latter, it resulted in the former. In fact, a quick search of The Queen’s Assassin Manuscript reveals that I typed it 1,568 times. It’s a lot of muscle memory to overcome.

6. What is your favorite to write: beginning, middle, or end – and why?

Yikes. Too difficult. Each has highs and lows. The beginning is filled with excitement and fear and love and the entirety of the universe is open to your fingertips. On the other hand, the potential for messing up the foundation stones of your novel is entirely too terrifying. The middle is where you finally get momentum. Your characters know what they’re about and start kicking butt and taking names, the world begins to enrich and unfold, and you still have the opportunity to mess up and stall the momentum or make it boring as you struggle to get to *drum roll* the end: like a bitter-sweet farewell between lovers. The emotion can carry you on a high for weeks after you’ve typed ‘the end’. On the other hand, you have to truly say good-bye… until the edits, that is.

The key is to ride the best parts of writing a novel and minimize the lows. Until the end. I have no advice for that heartbreak, except to remember the love you had for it with all fondness and embrace the changes wrought upon your soul in the interim.

7. What are your writing habits? Is there a specific snack you eat? Do you listen to music? What time of the day do you write best? Feel free to show us a picture of your writing space!

I don’t do well with distractions and I do very well with distractions. Sometimes my best writing happens with a youtube video playing on one half of my screen, but there are other times when even music is too great a distraction. Yes, I love snacking and sipping a hot beverage while I write. I’m struggling with a few dietary restrictions for my health at the moment, so some hot lemon-ginger water or roasted dandelion root tea is the ticket. And no cookies for the present distress. I’m hoping by the end of NaNo I can be back on my noveling diet of cookies and coffee, though! *crosses fingers*

I do listen to music. Sometimes it’s the best way to concentrate while I’m working. I also prefer to have music that matches the aesthetic of my novel. My last story was full of sweeping orchestral movements and daring risks; this NaNo novel is different: small town, hot cups of coffee, peculiar magic, and a mystery which needs to be unraveled. It needed smaller music, and I had to take a break the other day and surf through my iTunes library to find some tunes to help me out.

Lastly, my work space is either the wherever my laptop is for on-the-go writing or in a modified setup my brother and I constructed a while back. A swinging arm with my monitor at one end and a side-table anchoring the other. My desktop tower sits under the side table, and that whole operation snuggles up next to my easy chair. Basically, I can kick back in the most comfortable chair of the house for any of my writing, digital art, or internet surfing.

8. How private are you about your novel while you’re writing? Do you need a cheer squad or do you work along (like, ahem, Batman)?

A bit of both. I love to share, but NaNoWriMo goes a little too fast for my Mom’s alpha-reading-editing superpowers. I’ll still share, but it will probably stretch well into December. My beloved brain-twin asked for snippets and I may have done a little oversharing, but it sparked in me the desire to do a snippets blog post. We shall see.

9. What keeps you writing even when it’s hard?

Usually my construction of a story comes about with a constellation of emotional stars which illuminate and are informed by the plot. You know them, the ones that you replay over and over in your head until they’re perfect. When my prose grinds to a halt, I lift my eyes to the next star, chart my course, and don’t stop until I’m typing around that celestial orb with my own ten fingers.

10. What are your top 3 pieces of writing advice?

Wear striped socks to help defeat writer’s block. Find good resources, whether it be NaNoWriMo prep talks, a mentor, or Write and get feedback and then keep writing.

Current word count: 7,678 (a bit more to do yet today!).

Current sanity level: 9.7 out of a healthy 10.

Pinterest board for the series in which this NaNoMadness resides: here.

And don’t forget to check out PaperFury!! She’s awesome!