Saturday, July 1, 2017

0 Neil Connelly, author of INTO THE HURRICANE, on making your writing a ritual

We're excited to have Neil Connelly here to tell us more about his latest novel, INTO THE HURRICANE.

Neil, what's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

5:48. That’s my answer. In the 23 years I’ve been seriously writing, I’ve completed 9 manuscripts and had 8 accepted for publication, all the while teaching as a full time job. In all that time, I’ve never written more than an hour (maybe two on occasion) per day. I attribute this track record to an obsessive routine. When I’m in writing mode, I wake first thing in the morning and write every day. Recently, that’s meant my cell phone buzzes at 5:48. This gets me to my desk 6:00 with coffee and quiet music (jazz, orchestral soundtracks) No checking email! No checking Facebook for “just a second.” These are deadly temptations. This affords me an hour to work before having to get breakfast together for my sons.

One advantage to writing every day (the way some people work out at the gym) is that a single bad day doesn’t mean much. If Monday isn’t awesome, who cares? I’ve got Tuesday. And Wednesday. I’ve learned that it’s the slow accumulation of pages that makes a book happen.

Frankly, while of course there are frustrations with writing, I find my mornings very peaceful, almost prayerful. I wasn’t surprised to find Jon Kabat-Zinn, an advocate of meditation, extolling the virtues of a morning routine. He makes the excellent point that once you commit to such a thing, it isn’t reliant on moods or how busy you are. Simply, you just do it. Make your writing a ritual.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Write every day. Write every day. Write every day. Don’t worry about quality or word count. Forget about publishing or even anyone else ever reading this. Put aside the twin demon gods of all writers (ego and doubt). Just dream with your characters for a bit. Regardless of output, you achieve absolute unqualified success by sitting down, being present before the page, and granting yourself that time.

What are you working on now?

As I write these words, my editor and agent have a full draft of my next novel BRAWLERS. Like HURRICANE, there’s a male protagonist and a strong female character as well (blame my eight older sisters for that). High school wrestling star Ed MacIntyre screws up royally at the state championship and gets drawn into an underground world of illegal fighting—no holds barred matches where anything goes. Apinya, a Thai-American teen, helps train him in Muy Thai boxing. But as the two evade police, advance in the rankings, and learn each other’s secrets, they discover there’s a lot more at stake than just winning. Much like HURRICANE, I’m hoping it combines thoughtful themes (here about domestic abuse, the cycle of violence) with flat out excitement on every page.


Into the Hurricane
by Neil Connelly
Arthur A. Levine Books
Released 6/27/2017


Eli and Max both have good reasons to go to the lighthouse on Shackles Island. For Max, it's an old vacation spot, the rare location where she has only good memories -- so it's the right place to scatter her dad's ashes. For Eli, it's the highest point near his Louisiana home, with the clearest view of the rocks where his sister died -- so it's the right place to end his own life as well.


But neither of them expected the other, nor the storm. Because Hurricane Celeste is roaring toward Shackles Island, and its power will break bridges, slash electric lines, and stir up deadly wildlife -- some of it human. When the ruthless Odenkirk family steals Max's Jeep with her most precious possession inside, she and Eli begin a desperate quest to get it back and get off the island ... until they realize they must go into the hurricane.

Purchase Into the Hurricane at Amazon
Purchase Into the Hurricane at IndieBound
View Into the Hurricane on Goodreads


Before returning to his home state of Pennsylvania, where he teaches at Shippensburg University, Connelly was director of the MFA program at McNeese State University. He has published five books and numerous short stories.


Have you had a chance to read INTO THE HURRICANE yet? Do you have a ritual for writing every day? Are you able to dream with your characters for a bit? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Anisaa, Sam, Martina, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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