My answer: "I don't freakin' remember."
Here's the deal- I don't write that way and my cheeseball brain doesn't function like that. Yet, some people think that's a good test of if or not you actually composed the text.
The reality is that when I start a story, I actually move into it. I try and put myself back in that place and time and look around. With the help of some modern resources I take myself back that that specific time and date and see what life was like. Then, once I get orientated, I add in all of the tastes and smells and sensations that the people would have experienced- apply them to the facts and write the story. If I feel like I'm "there" then my readers will feel like they are there as well.
Then I leave it and move onto the next story. The story previous is thus zipped into my brain's cluttered memory bank and eventually over-written by new data. Occasionally I'll open up one of my previous books and upon reading a paragraph or two I say to myself, "Did I write that? Dang... that's pretty good." Frankly I don't remember writing it. Additionally, on a few occasions I'll come across a good prospect event for a shipwreck story, but think that it sounds a bit too familiar. After a check I find that, nope- I already wrote it.
Thus you have my world as a writer. It is not neat rows of files in alpha-numeric order, but rather it is a full-blown mess of strewn-about papers, ideas, drawings, maps and stuff I wanna write about... if I haven't already. If you get one of my books and wanna quiz me on it, well... I don't take quizzes... ever. On the other hand if you wanna take a story and wade through the reference material and thought processes needed to construct it- I'll be happy to join you in the process. Hope yer' not busy for about a month.
A random book signing at Whitefish Point
Overall, I love my readers- even the ones who try and quiz me. Although everyone should keep in mind that my most recent book 18 months to hit the stores after I finished it- so I'm working years ahead of what you are holding in your hand when you try and quiz me.
What's the first line in the second chapter?
Damned if I remember- I'm working in 1882 right now.
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