Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

Here we present our exclusive collection of Q&As with a long list of illustrious authors.

David Liss

David LissDavid Liss is the author of historical thrillers such as The Devil’s Company and The Whiskey Rebels.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

I always see writers block as a sign that there is something fundamentally wrong with the project on which I'm working. There's just about always a reason why I'm not moving forward, so I try and figure out what that reason is—what wrong turn I've taken. Many times I don't want to recognize that I've made some kind of misstep, because it often means serious backtracking and throwing away work, but the sooner I admit that I need to fix something fundamental, the sooner I can get back to the business of moving forward.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

Honestly, sitting down at my computer. I am a no-nonsense writer. I work on a schedule and when it's time to write, I mean business. Plus, I love what I do, so you could say my prompt is getting to do it.

What is the most valuable advice you received as a young writer?

Probably the best advice I ever got came from my wife. I was working on my second novel and trying to write less like myself and more like a novelist I admired. My wife read some pages, handed them back and said, "This is awful. Stop trying to write like someone else and write like yourself." I always pass this along to young writers. Every talented writer has a unique style, and the key to success and happiness is developing your own style, not trying to imitate someone else.