Ever wondered what an author gets up to when they’re not on BBC Radio 4 talking about their new novel? We are endlessly curious here at Dead Good about the lives of our authors so we asked best-selling thriller writer Simon Kernick, to let us in on his working day!
Simon: “If I’m working on a book and I haven’t got my kids with me, I never set the alarm but let myself wake up naturally. Having said that, I don’t tend to sleep too late, and usually I force myself from my pit at some point between 7.30 and 8. I then faff about for a good hour, making tea, watching Sky News, checking my emails, and generally doing everything I can to avoid starting work.
Although I’ve written stories all my life, I still find it hard to sit at my desk and actually begin typing away, even if I’m on an exciting part of the book. It always feels, I don’t know, just daunting somehow. However, I have the prime motivation that if I don’t do it I won’t get paid, so after showering and doing a few stretches for my bad back (something of a side effect of the job), I finally start at about 9.30. I then do a straight 2 to 2 and a half hours of writing. This may not sound a huge amount but actually it takes quite a lot out of me mentally (honest), so when I’ve finished I tend to go to the gym to unwind. I’ve been on something of a keep fit binge these past few months and I’m loving it.
After that, and another shower (I’m big on keeping clean!), it’s time for lunch.
Lunch is one of my favourite times of the day. I tend to eat a mammoth one, because I don’t eat breakfast, and I scoff it reading The Times from cover to cover. I’ve always taken lunch breaks, even when I had a proper job, because I think it’s a good way of recharging the batteries (not because I’m lazy), and by the time I’m finished it’s usually about 2.30. At this point, I can go one of two ways. In recent times, I’ve got in the habit of having a 20 minute power nap (which is lazy), and which I always feel guilty about but do anyway. So I’ll either have one of them, and then work, or if I’m feeling enthusiastic, I’ll skip the nap and get straight down to it.
I then tend to do another straight 2 hours, working through until about 5 o’clock. By this time, I should have written about 2000 words (about 2% of a normal-sized book). If I haven’t, or I’m really behind on the book, I’ll take a break and then try to do another hour later. But if I’m on schedule, I’ll go for a walk to clear my head. I’m lucky enough to live in a little village surrounded by countryside, so I’ll tend to go for a good hour, even in winter, and longer in summer.
My evenings tend to be determined by what day it is. If I’ve got my kids, who I generally see a couple of times a week, we’ll have an early meal and watch a movie. If I’m on my own, I’ll cook something up from scratch (I’m big on Thai food at the moment), and eat it in front of the TV. I tend to watch a lot drama- anything from re-runs of Miss Marple to Breaking Bad and Homeland and comedy. I’m a huge fan of Curb your Enthusiasm and Seinfeld, and if there’s nothing on the box, I’ll usually stick in a DVD of one of them, and laugh uproariously on my own for the next couple of hours!
That isn’t to say I’m some nutty recluse, of course. I do like to get out and meet friends for drinks or a meal, but tend to do this later in the week and at the weekends, when I’ve come close to doing my word quota for the week.
And then finally it’s bedtime. If I’m staying in, I usually hit the sack about 11 and read for half an hour or so until I’m too knackered to stay awake. I’m currently re-reading The Lord of The Rings and do you know what? It’s slower than I remembered. Sometimes I can only manage about ten minutes, and then I’m flat out like a light, hoping for the kind of nightmare that’s going to provide me with a whole new plot for my next book.
And then it starts all over again.”
Having a routine is a great way to get motivated! A big thank you to Simon Kernick for showing us an insight into his daily life. Find out more about Simon on his facebook page.