‘Being a writer can warp your existence’
Well today I have a rather relaxing post for you all from Chris Lloyd, author of The Elisenda Domenech Investigations Series, of which there are three, published by Canelo.
Chris is currently on ‘tour’ with his novels and I was delighted to jump on the bus when approached by the lovely Faye Rogers
Chris’ post is all about A Day in his Life, which I must say sounds only wonderful. I was quite chilled out ( and a little envious) after reading it!!
Let me hand you all over to Chris now…
A day in the life of Chris Lloyd
The scene opens: a devilishly charming and impossibly debonair crime writer throws the cover off the bed and jumps nimbly onto the carpet, already shaved and immaculately dressed. He greets the sunrise over the mountain. Birds sing to greet him, clouds part and music swells in a crescendo… then it all judders to a scratchy halt…
Cut to reality and a rather unkempt man swearing at the alarm clock falls out of bed and opens the curtains to a blanket of drizzle and more foul language.
Guess which one’s me.
Mornings don’t suit me. I’ve always been a night owl, and I find it a struggle getting out of bed in the morning, especially in the winter when it’s still dark. I’m all right after a shower and breakfast and another healthy stint of swearing at the news, and I usually start work at about 8.30. First job of the day is to check social media (and then try not to check Twitter obsessively through the day). I’d like to say I don’t take a look at the book rankings every morning, but that would be a massive fib.
Book 1 ~ City of Buried Ghosts
Book 2 ~ City of Good Death
As well as writing, I also work as a freelance translator, and I try to divide my day into translating in the mornings and writing in the afternoons and evenings, but the agencies who send me translations don’t always play ball, which can be quite frustrating. I translate mainly academic texts as well as a lot of arts and commercial pieces for publication, and a little bit of literary work, which is fascinating. Today, for example, I’ve translated a very learned academic paper on socio-economic aspects of family farms, followed by a catalogue for cheese and a press release for a sex toy – from the sublime to the ridiculous. Oddly, translating is useful for the more nitty-gritty side of writing and editing as it forces me to find exactly the right word and phrase and examine the structure of the text.
Mid-morning I go for a walk in the village with my wife and then home for a cup of tea. She also works from home – she’s an artist – and it gives us a chance to chat about how work’s going. It helps that we can talk about our respective jobs and get another perspective on it. Then it’s back for more translating until just before lunchtime, when I get rid of the bureaucracy – not literally, much as I’d like to; I mean I sort it out. One of the joys of both of us working at home is lunch together every day, when we can both use it to switch off from the morning’s work. After lunch, I go for a walk on my own. I can sometimes think about writing when I’m walking, but usually I can’t as there are too many distractions around me. Instead, I use the walk to change the chip in my head and focus on the visual stimuli to clear my mind.
Then it’s writing. I have a separate room with a desk and chair and bookshelves and little else – the fewer distractions the better. I always start by listening to rock music to get myself into the zone – it’s always songs that I associate with the characters I’m going to write about. Sometimes I also watch a short video about the setting if I need to, just to get the feel. I also have a habit of leaving a note in the previous session telling me roughly what the first line I write is going to be, as I find that helps me get into it more immediately. I try to write in 75-minute sessions, which is great for focusing, but very often I get caught up in it and lose track of time. When I do take a break, I get up and make myself a cup of tea, using the time that takes to think of where the story’s going and what needs to come next – the tea nearly always ends up not getting drunk.
At the end of the day’s session, I plan ahead to the next key scene in the story, writing down notes with bits of dialogue, who needs to be involved, what the next minor key scene along the way should be, what strands need to be picked up, what clues to layer in. That usually takes about half an hour or so. And I write my first line for the next day. After that, I check social media again as well as the Catalan news on the internet to see what’s going on there and the Catalan police’s website and social media – I can pick up some really useful snippets or ideas from that.
Book 3 ~ City of Drowned Souls
My wife finishes work at roughly the same time and we either go out for a walk and then home for some supper, or we might go into Cardiff if there’s a good gig. Not far from where we live, a lovely old art deco pier has been turned into an arts centre, so we sometimes go there – there’s a great 70-seat cinema that shows a good variety of commercial films, art-house movies and occasionally ones in Spanish, and there are a couple of great restaurants on the seafront right by it. Every now and then, we get invited to an opening night at an art gallery, or my wife has one, so we go along to that and I try to pretend to be interesting. If we’re not doing any of those things, we stay in and watch TV, read our books and then bed. Whatever we do, I always get some idea in the wee small hours, so I have to write it down in a notebook I keep by the side of the bed – I even have a little book lamp hooked onto the bedstead for exactly those moments. That’s how much being a writer can warp your existence.
Then, as I fall asleep again, a lone saxophonist plays a haunting tune and the credits slowly roll on another day. Alternatively, I put the notebook down, check the clock and swear one last time before battering the pillow into shape.
Lastly, thank you Mairead for hosting me on Swirl and Thread today.
And thank you too Chris for dropping by!!
About Chris Lloyd:
Chris was born in an ambulance racing through a town he’s only returned to once and that’s probably what did it. Soon after that, when he was about two months old, he moved with his family to West Africa, which pretty much sealed his expectation that life was one big exotic setting. He later studied Spanish and French at university, and straight after graduating, he hopped on a bus from Cardiff to Catalonia where he stayed for the next twenty-four years, falling in love with the people, the country, the language and Barcelona Football Club, probably in that order. Besides Catalonia, he’s also lived in Grenoble, the Basque Country and Madrid, teaching English, travel writing for Rough Guides and translating. He now lives in South Wales, where he works as a writer and a Catalan and Spanish translator, returning to Catalonia as often as he can.
He writes the Elisenda Domènech series, featuring a police officer with the newly-devolved Catalan police force in the beautiful city of Girona. The third book in the series, City of Drowned Souls, was just published on 6 February 2017.
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