Maren Bradley Anderson writes, teaches, and raises alpacas in Oregon. She teaches English at Western Oregon University and novel writing to new authors. She fills her days caring for alpacas, playing with her kids, and reading books that make her laugh. Her novel, Fuzzy Logic, will be released in 2015 by Black Opal Books, and her adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for children will be performed by Apple Box Children’s Theater in July 2015. To find out more, visit Maren’s website at marens.com, or follow her on Twitter (@marenster).
What is your creative process? Early bird or night owl? Writing group or lone wolf?
I am a time-grabber. I write when I can, and since I have two little kids, my writing time is mostly stolen or bought.
This summer is an example. My day job is as a college writing teacher, but I don’t teach during the summer. Instead, I am a kid-taxi, shuttling them to lessons, camps, and the like. I have scheduled (that is, bought with daycare or camp) about two hours a day when both kids are otherwise occupied, so I can write or edit. This is great for the next two weeks, but then July hits and the schedule changes, so I will only have about 45 minutes a day to write. I will have to find some way to steal more time that month because 45 minutes a day is not enough writing time to keep me from going crazy.
Generally, I write best in the late morning in a coffee shop with good ambient white noise. The other people talking and music keeps the monkey part of my brain occupied while the creative muse-y part does her thing. That’s my theory. I used to write at night at home, but now with the two kids, I am too tired and too behind on doing the laundry to be able to write at night.
After I get a draft done that I like, I send it to a couple beta readers for comments. I am done editing when I realize that I am changing words back and forth.
What are you reading right now?
Honestly, on my nightstand now is a book about donkeys because we just adopted a pair of longears. I am also reading When to Rob a Bank by the Freakonomics writers, Levitt and Dubner. There are some books on writing craft in the bathroom. I just finished re-reading Middlesex by Eugenides for book club. Next is Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. My nightstand is stacked with books of all kinds. I read things across lots of genres and subjects, and I think my eclectic reading habits help me find things to write about.
What are some of your favorite books of all time?
The book I most enjoyed last year is Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore. All time favorites include Tom Robbins’ works (like Fierce Invalids Back from Hot Climates), Catch-22 by Heller, Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen, and Fluke also by Moore. My Master’s thesis is about Shakespeare, and I still like his work enough that I wrote an adaptation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream for my local children’s theater (it is being produced this summer). My guilty pleasures are Dick Francis mysteries, and I have been known to buy a book just because it has a horse on the cover.
You gentle readers probably expected some poetry in those lists since my piece in The Timberline Review is a poem. Well, I have come to poetry late in life–I classify myself first as a novelist and then a short story writer and playwright–and so I am thinly read in modern poetry. I can recommend Henry Hughes, an Oregon Book Prize winner. I love his poetry, and he is my friend and poetry mentor. Otherwise, I like Hopkins, Tennyson, and Poe’s poetry among others. My poet friends cringe when I say this. Then I point out that to someone like me whose first love is Shakespeare, Tennyson and Hopkins are modern poets.