Readers' Questions: Answered! (GIVEAWAY BELOW!)

I've been saying that I would do a Readers Q&A post for ages...and finally...here it is! I've received a ton of questions by email, twitter and facebook, and am psyched to have a chance to respond!

So, in no particular order, let's get to it!

Q. Will there be a sequel to The Season?
A. Ok, this is probably the question I get asked the most...online and in the real world...and I'm afraid I don't have a great answer, except to say that, as of now, there are no plans for sequels to The Season.

Q. When will Freddie, Lord Stanhope get his book?
A. When I wrote The Season I had no idea that Freddie would be such a popular character--although I shouldn't be surprised, because we girls definitely like our bad boys. Of course, there's nothing terribly wicked about Freddie--he's more bark than bite when you really get to know him. That said, Freddie has many many oats to sow before he'll be ready to settle down--but when he does meet his match, I can assure you that fireworks will ensue! I'd like to write Freddie's story one day--but he needs to cook for a few years before he's ready to fall in love.

Q. How long does it take you to write a book? What's your process like?
A. This question makes writing a book seem way more organized that it is for me. I love the idea of having a process, but mainly I spend a lot of time being insane before I actually get myself into a zone. My books take between 4 and 6 months to write, and then require another 2 or 3 months for editing and revisions. I'm very lucky to work with two of the most incredible editors in the world--they're brilliant, insightful women who make me look like a far far better writer than I actually am. :)

As for Process, so far, all three of my books have come to me with the very first scene: The Season began with Alex's dress-fitting for her coming out; Nine Rules... began with a meeting that happened 10 years before the actual book is set (which is now the prologue); and I met my current WIP's heroine while she was receiving the news of her father's death--and responding to it in a rather bizarre way.

After I meet them, though...my characters can't do anything else without me knowing precisely where they're going and what they're doing. I'm a heavy outliner...my outlines are very stream of conscious--they tell the story from beginning to end, but range in format, voice, tense, tone and can even be snippets of dialogue that pop into my head and ultimately become a part of the finished book.

Once I have an outline, I write longhand...everything related to a book goes into a single notebook and then I edit it into my computer...so I tell myself that I'm really handing in a second draft when I send my editors my first draft.

Because of my deadlines, I write as much as I can, whenever I can. There's no rhyme or reason to it. It's just all the time. This makes my process harried and harrowing--but boy is it awesome when you write that last word!

Q. What's your favorite part of writing? Your least favorite?
A. Revisions are my favorite part, because that's the time when you're really working to make it a terrific book. Editors are incredible. My editors are two of my favorite people in the world because they look at my messy, unpleasant manuscript and they see the gold in it. And then they help me mine it. I like the "team" feel to revisions. They're hard, but you're not alone.

My least favorite part is the second to last chapter. Always. In my books, it's usually a chapter where lots of stuff is happening, plots are at their climax, characters are having their moments of clarity, loose ends are tying themselves up into (I hope) neat little bows. And I'm SO CLOSE to the end. But not there yet. I HATE not being there yet.

Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? When did you first know you ARE a writer?
A. When I was in high school, some teacher in some class asked us to make an "About Us" card--it's a half a piece of construction paper with a picture of 16-year-old me and a bunch of random facts...favorite book, favorite movie, weakness, etc. One of those things was "dream job." I wrote Romance Novelist. So, I don't know when, exactly, I knew I wanted to be a writer, but it was pretty early on.

As for the second half of that question, well...I guess it shows a bit of my weakness that I don't usually show...but I still don't think of myself as a writer. It's such a scary, amazing, unbelievable thing...it's almost like i'll jinx myself if I actually say the words out loud.

Q. What music inspires you when you write?
A. I listen almost exclusively to classical music (on my Pandora station) when I write. Boccherini, Strauss, Mozart, Beethoven, Rossini, and dozens of others. But almost all of my books have a pop song that serves as their modern inspiration. Nine Rules... was inspiried by Jason Mraz's I'm Yours, my current WIP's theme song is Brett Dennen's Darlin Do Not Fear.

I think that's a good list for now...if y'all would like, I'm happy to do this feature more frequently...maybe once a month? If you're interested, post your questions for November in comments or tweet them @sarahmaclean! I'll answer them...and give one lucky questioner a signed copy of The Season!