Writer’s Toolbox

Author Q&A

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

Gayle Lynds

Gayle LyndsGayle Lynds is the author of the thrillers The Book of Spies, The Last Spymaster, and Masquerade.

What is your method for overcoming writer’s block?

I wish there were a pill for this. I find time is critical. Often a writer is simply creatively tired, or one’s unconscious is working on character, plot, or somesuch, and that has brought one’s writing to a painful halt. To remedy that, time is needed. On other other hand, I always ask myself, “What is the villain doing?” The villain drives the plot, whether it’s a minimalist literary piece or a grandiose potboiler. If you know what your villain is doing, whether it is man, beast, or god, generally you will be able to uncover where the book or story needs to go next.

What are your favorite or most helpful writing prompts?

Tacked to my lamp shade:
Protagonist v. Antagonist
Hero = jeopardy
Villain = menace

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

At the beginning of my career, Robert Kirsch, the literary critic for the Los Angeles Times, was my mentor. He told me I was an artist, then he leaned forward and, eyes blazing, said, “I wish you many mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you know you’re dead.”