Welcome to author Reagan Davis who sacrificed her chocolate eating and Diet Coke drinking time to answer a few questions.
Describe your current writing spot or space.
Because of Covid, my husband and children are working and learning online, at home. A house full of zoom calls and people constantly hovering around each other’s space makes it difficult to focus on writing. Where I live, coffee shops and restaurants aren’t open for sit-in customers, so there aren’t many options other than my house. In the summer I would often work in the backyard, under the pergola. Lately, I’ve started working in my car. In the driveway. I can still connect to the WIFI in the house, and it’s quiet.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I aim to spend 70% of my working hours on writing-related tasks like outlining, drafting, editing, and revising. I am to spend 10% of my working hours on publishing-related tasks like formatting, uploading, and creating bonus content. I try to spend 10% of my working hours on marketing tasks like social media posts, sending newsletters, creating graphics, and creating ads. I am to spend 10% of my working hours on administrative tasks, continuing education, networking, and market research. My percentages are usually way off, but in an ideal world, this is what my schedule would look like.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I can usually take a book from outline to publication in two months. It takes me about a month to fast-draft. Then I need about a week to self-edit and revise. The editors and I will go back and forth with edits and revisions for a few weeks, then I’ll send it to my proofreader who takes about a week to get back to me with their feedback. My beta readers are incredible and efficient, so they often read the book and give me feedback within a week. I publish after I’ve implemented beta feedback.
Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?
Reagan Davis is a pseudonym. In my real name, I’m an established author in a niche non-fiction genre. I did not want to confuse my existing non-fiction audience by writing unrelated fiction under the same name. Also, I’ve been cautioned by other authors that multiple genres under the same author name can wreak havoc with the also-boughts on most bookselling platforms. I’m glad I chose to write under a pseudonym because it’s given me a sense of creative freedom I didn’t know I needed until I had it. No one in my real life knows my pseudonym except my husband and children. My pseudonym is a closely guarded secret…a mystery, you might say.
What comes first for you, the plot or characters?
When developing a series, the characters come first. Always. When developing each book within a series, the plot often inspires the personal development of the characters and their relationships.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I keep a list of names I like in my series bible and refer to it when I need inspiration. The names of the main characters are established, but the names of ‘guest characters’ and new characters change throughout the process until I settle on a name that feels right.
Can you hear your characters talking?
Yes! When other authors would claim their characters talk to them, I thought it was an exaggeration. It’s not. It really happens. And they don’t stop until you hear and acknowledge them. It’s worse when I’m outlining and drafting, they’re quieter during the editing phase of a book.
How much time do you spend on research before starting a book? While writing?
I can outline a book in a week, complete with scene cards, character names and descriptions, and timelines.
What kind of research do you do for a book?
I start my research with the cause of death and the method of death. I like to research the death thoroughly enough to make it feasible. For example, if the victim is poisoned, how would the killer obtain the poison? Would it be feasible for them to obtain it where they live? How and where would they store it? How did the killer decide to use this cause of death? How did they learn about it if there’s no evidence they researched it on their computer or cell phone? I also find myself researching technology for almost every book because I don’t want the sleuth to spend 30 plus chapters chasing clues when something like a cell phone ping, or GPS tracker on a car would have solved the crime in chapter 3.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
No one reads my first draft. No one. My first draft is part plot and part stream of consciousness. Allowing someone to look at the raw words of a first draft is a level of vulnerability I’m not ready for.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Books and courses to improve my craft.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I knit and read all the things. I’m an avid knitter and reader.
What is your favorite childhood book(s)?
I loved the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books. I also loved Charlotte’s web by EB White, as well as the Fudge series and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, by Judy Blume. When I outgrew children’s lit, I would pick up the Harlequin Romance novels or women’s fiction novels that my mother left around the house. As a teenager, I remember being enthralled by Barbara Raskin’s book, Hot Flashes.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Just write. Get the story out of your head and on paper. It doesn’t matter how rough the first draft is, it only matters that you do it. The words don’t have to be good, they just have to exist. You can edit bad words, but you can’t edit no words.
Reagan Davis is a pen name for the real author who lives in the suburbs of Toronto with her husband, two kids, and a menagerie of pets. When she’s not planning the perfect murder, she enjoys knitting, reading, eating too much chocolate, and drinking too much Diet Coke. The author is an established knitwear designer who regularly publishes individual patterns and is a contributor to many knitting books and magazines.
I’d tell you her real name, but then I’d have to kill you.
(Just kidding! Sort of.)
Where to Find Reagan Davis & Her Books:
Website | Amazon | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads | BookBub