NaNoWriMo Feature: Erica Wright

Welcome to National Novel Writing Month, 2015! We’re celebrating all month long with a gangbuster sale on some of our favorite novels, a consultation program for those of you with in-progress manuscripts, and this–a daily feature profiling a Black Lawrence Press author who has done the unthinkable: completed a novel.

Today’s featured writer is Erica Wright, author of the novel The Granite Moth.


Skeletons rattled their way up Sixth Avenue, spreading their green glow over the crowd. Puppeteers on roller skates navigated larger-than-human dummies to the delight of families and college kids alike. The next float seemed to be a pirate ship, if pirate ships came in pink and ghosts came in iridescent thongs. The annual Halloween parade was one of the few times when I felt at home, disguised among countless others disguised. That night I had donned a cheap but bedazzled mask with jeans, and I was feeling underdressed but unexposed. I was wedged between a Batman father taking turns hoisting twin girls onto his shoulders and a twenty-something woman dressed like a sexy raccoon. All had their arms outstretched as a man in an eyepatch and little else tossed bubblegum into the air. A few pieces landed at my sneakers, and I kicked them away.

Craft Notes

The annual Village Halloween Parade in New York City is one of my favorite events. When I started writing The Granite Moth, I knew I wanted to start there. My protagonist, Kat Stone, spent two years deep undercover and, as a result, feels more comfortable pretending to be other people than living as herself. The mask she’s wearing in this opening paragraph is a symbol of her identity problems. Without giving too much away, she’s not wearing one in the book’s final scene.

1) What is the hardest part of writing a novel? What are your techniques for dealing with this aspect of the process?

I’ve never run a marathon, so I apologize in advance if this metaphor doesn’t work. For me, though, a novel is akin to a long race. Adrenaline might get you through the first few miles/chapters, but then you have to rely on training and determination. The technique that works best for me is creating reasonable daily goals. If I set my expectations too high (Today you’re going to write 5,000 words!), I’m probably going to be in the kitchen washing dishes instead.

 2) What is the best writing advice you’ve received?

Richard Hugo’s brilliant essay “Writing Off the Subject” is for poets, but I think his advice works for everyone: “To write a poem you must have a streak of arrogance, not in real life I hope. In real life try to be nice. It will save you a hell of a lot of trouble and give you more time to write.”

3) How long did it take you to complete your novel? Please talk a little bit about your journey from first word to final draft?

This is my second novel, and while it wasn’t any easier than the first one, I did move at a brisker pace. I knew that I had finished a book before, so it must be possible. The first draft took me about nine months, then revisions took another three. I worked with my wonderful editor Maia Larson for a few more.

4)   What is your favorite writing time beverage?

All of my friends know this about me, so I don’t know why it’s so embarrassing, but Coke Zero. Sometimes I have green tea, but I’m thinking about Coke Zero the whole time.

Suggested Reading

The Triggering Town by Richard Hugo (which contains the essay “Writing Off the Subject”)

Method and Madness: The Making of a Story by Alice LaPlante


WrightAuthorPhotoErica Wright’s debut crime novel The Red Chameleon (Pegasus Books) was one of O, The Oprah Magazine‘s Best Books of Summer 2014 and was called “riveting” by Publishers Weekly. A sequel, The Granite Moth, was released this month. She is also the author of the poetry collection Instructions for Killing the Jackal (Black Lawrence Press, 2011) and the chapbook Silt (Dancing Girl Press, 2009). She is the poetry editor and a senior editor at Guernica Magazine as well as an editorial board member for Alice James Books.