Many people come up to me and say, “Hey! Julia! What’s it like being the glamorous author of bestselling mysteries?” I usually just draw my full-length mink closer to myself and hurry past, but occasionally I like to share glimpses of my exciting life with “the little people.” Forthwith: A glorious winter day, a luxurious (yet homey) Maine farmhouse, and the enviable life of The Author.
6:00 am: The Author snuggles beneath her downy featherbed while fat snowflakes fall gently from the pearly skies above her Maine farmhouse.
6:15 am: The Author’s son wakes her up when he rushes into her bedroom looking for socks her should have gotten yesterday.
6:30 am: The Author attempts to go back to sleep.
6:45 am: The Author’s son wakes her up a second time, needing a check and a signed permission slip.
7:00 am: The Author attempts to relax clenched jaw and go back to sleep.
7:15 am: The Author’s clock radio goes off. Sadly, she is not greeted by the dulcet tones of Steve Innskeep and Renee Montagne of NPR’s Morning Edition, but by the Boston-based sports talk station her husband was listening to the night before.
7:18 am: The Author staggers into bathroom, attempts to rub sleep-creases off face. Discovers they don’t rub off.
7:30 am: The Author awakens her youngest child before going downstairs to start the electric kettle.
7:35 am: The Author awakens her youngest child before making The Author’s husband’s lunch.
7:40 am: The Author awakens her youngest child and then feeds the cats and the dog.
7:45 am: The Author’s husband comes into the kitchen. “Don’t you think you ought to wake V—– up?” he helpfully asks.
7:46 am: The Author drags youngest child out of bed, sets her to dressing, eating, washing, brushing, loading book bag.
8:05 am: The Author lovingly shoves husband and daughter out into the snow. Time for a cup of tea!
8:10 am: The Author quickly checks her email.
8:15 am: The Author decided she had better see what’s up on Twitter and Facebook.
9:00 am: Maybe a few publishing industry blogs.
9:30 am: And Regretsy. She’ll just take a peek at Regretsy.
10:00 am: The Author notices the fire in her quaint New England kitchen woodstove is dying down. She puts on boots, parka, hat and gloves and treks out to the wood room for a couple armfuls of well-seasoned oak.
10:05 am: Oh, my Lord. It smells like a mouse died in here.
10:15 am: After building up a fire, time for another cup of tea!
10:18 am: The Author opens her current work in progress. It’s at a delicate point, where she must bring together several key characters in a scene that opens the action in a new direction, while subtly revealing motivations the character’s themselves are unaware of.
10:23 am: More tea!
10:47 am: The Author’s marketing person emails her, asking for a 2000-word piece describing the creative process and an updated bio to go in a promotional flyer. Due in two days, please.
11:00 am: The Author struggles with finding just the right language to etch the fictional landscape into the reader’s mind, creating echos of the books theme in the natural world.
11:10 am: Litterbox duty.
11:25 am: The Author’s friend calls. “Want to meet me at the transfer station?” The Author agrees, and begins stomping cardboard and sorting glass and cans into separate bags.
11:35 am: The Author drags recyclables into her station wagon, discovers the town plow has been by since the Boy shoveled them out. The driveway is blocked by a two-foot-high snow dike.
11:40 am: Shoveling and cursing.
11:50 am: Cursing and shoveling.
12:00 pm: The Author meets friend at the town transfer station, spends an enjoyable half-hour gossiping over stacks of old newspapers.
12:30 pm: The Author, home again, lugs in another armload of split logs. The wood room isn’t smelling any better.
12:45 pm: The Author mixes leftover baked beans with leftover mac and cheese. Not bad.
1:00 pm: The Author gets back to work on a scene where two red herrings must be invisibly laid alongside a clue that will only be recognized two-thirds of the way through the book.
1:15 pm: Better take the dog out for a walk.
2:00 pm: The Author’s publicist calls about upcoming book tour. Next half-hour spent hashing out difference between Manchester, Vermont and Manchester, New Hampshire.
2:30 pm: The Author realizes she has one hour of work time before kids and husband return home.
2:45 pm: More tea!
3:00 pm: The Author throws some frozen meat in the microwave. Maybe if it’s already defrosted, husband will be inspired with an idea for dinner.
3:30 pm: The Author remembers now-defrosted meat. Removing it from the microwave, she spills jus on the kitchen floor.
3:35 pm: The Author’s husband and daughter come through door just in time to see the author mopping up puddle of blood from the floor. “What are you doing?” the Author’s daughter asks. “Research,” the Author says.
3:45 pm: The Author’s husband asks if she has remembered an interview due today. With a sinking heart, the author opens the interviewer’s email, to find fifteen questions asking for enough detail to pass as a national security clearance questionnaire.
4:00 pm: The Author works on interview answers while listening to account of daughter’s day and explaining that yes, daughter still has to empty the dishwasher even if she is scared to go back into the kitchen.
5:00 pm: Still working on interview. The Author’s husband wanders in. “Have you given any thought to dinner?”
5:30 pm: The Author’s husband comes back in. “Shouldn’t the Boy have gotten home on the activity bus by now?” Remember school play rehearsal is running until 6:00, and all cast members need to be picked up by parents. Offer husband choice: dinner prep or drive time.
6:00 pm: The Author waits outside the darkened high school for son. Snow is beginning to fall. Again.
6:15 pm: Returning home, the Author quizzes son on homework, delivers lecture on the importance of turning in work on time.
6:30 pm: The Author resumes working on interview which should have been done the day before.
7:00 pm: Dinner. Macaroni and cheese. The Author sighs.
7:30 pm: Everyone into the family room for tonight’s episode of Babylon 5, streaming from Netflix. “Do I write as well as J. Michael Straczynski?” the Author asks. The Author’s husband prudently keeps mouth shut.
8:30 pm: The Author tucks in her daughter. Explains that, no, that wasn’t real blood mommy was cleaning up. Just pretend blood.
8:45 pm: The Author settles into comfy chair, keeping feet well elevated away from drafts creeping along the floor of her 190-year-old house. She is ready to relax and enjoy an advance reader’s copy of Paul Doiron’s Bad Little Falls.
8:55 pm: The Author’s dog emits horrible noxious gas, forcing the evacuation of the room.
9:30 pm: The Author drags son away from computer, lectures him on the importance of an early bedtime and healthful sleeping habits.
10:30 pm: The Author’s husband appears downstairs in flannel pajamas. “It’s late. Aren’t you coming to bed?” The Author promises she will after one more chapter.
11:45 pm: The Author guiltily sneaks into bedroom with ARC tucked under her arm.
11:55 pm: The Author snuggles beneath her featherbed, promising herself she’ll get more writing done tomorrow. “Did you hear the weather report?” her husband asks. “Looks like another snow day. We’ll all be home with you!”
12:00 am: The Author stares at the darkened ceiling, listening for the sound of snow plows. A sound that will not come until it is far, far too late.