Interview with Michael J. Seidlinger: “I’d like to think it’s more like a form of therapy.”

Michael J. Seidlinger is a Filipino American author of Anybody Home?, Scream, and other books. 

He has written for, among others, Wired, Buzzfeed, Thrillist, Goodreads, The Observer, Polygon, The Believer, and Publishers Weekly. He teaches at Portland State University and has led workshops at Catapult, Kettle Pond Writer’s Conference, and Sarah Lawrence. 

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Hi Michael, great to have you on Famous Writing Routines. To kick things off, can you take us through the creative process behind your upcoming book, Anybody Home

The book happened in a frenzy. I want to say it took me two weeks to write the draft and another week to edit it into shape. Before the first words were inked, though, I dove face-first into my favorite films on the subject, including the obvious ones like Funny Games and The Strangers, combed some home invasion records, and forced myself to revisit my own personal experiences with home invasion.

What does a typical writing day look like for you?

I write every day, aiming for 1000 words, and have been lucky enough to find the time, even if it means saying no to people.

Sometimes it takes saying no to that thing you really want to go to, turning your back when peer pressure at its peak; I always remind myself that I’d feel weird if I haven’t written and wouldn’t enjoy wherever it is I went, or whatever it is I did, had I not gotten the daily writing session.

It’s not about strictness, though, I’d like to think it’s more like a form of therapy. Who knows what might become of the words being generated, the point is that it was the mental exercise I needed to feel normal.

How did the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns affect your routine?

I’m a homebody at heart and would gladly go nowhere and stay inside most days so, essentially, though the anxiety increase was very fucking real, I continued with that daily quota, sometimes even doubling it to 2000 when I really didn’t want to face reality that day. Yeah, lockdown was strangely productive for me, even with all the hangovers.

What have been some of your favorite recent books you’ve read?

Check out Panics by Barbara Molinard. It’s the only collection produced from a lifetime of a writer that battled self-destruction and doubt.   

If you were talking to an up-and-coming author looking to get published, what would your advice be to them?

Figure out why you’re getting into this, why it is you write, and never forget the reason(s). It’ll help you during the never-ending uphill climb.   

What does your workspace look like?

I write wherever I can, so it could be a desk, it could be the dinner table, it could be in some library tucked in a corner. I bring along a laptop or phone so that should the opportunity arise, I’ll be able to get some words down.

Before you go…

Each week, we spend hours upon hours researching and writing about famous authors and their daily writing routines. It’s a lot of work, but we do it out of our love for books and learning about these authors’ creative process, and we certainly don’t expect anything in return. However, if you’re enjoying these profiles each week, and would like to send something our way, feel free to buy us a coffee!

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