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Lys asking Kay to zipline off the Golden Gate Bridge. Producing a webcomic is quite similar.

There’s a certain amount of hubris involved in being a creator at all, an inherent assumption that what you’re creating is worth the effort and worth an audience’s time. There’s even more hubris in putting out an essay like this one, demystifying “success” while still an amateur. Still, there are so many barriers in front of artists and creators today that hopefully this series helps with tearing down a few.

Learning the economics of art: Writing when every word costs you $$$

When I first asked Airene to be my artist-partner in producing The Night Wolves, she refused. She asked me to read Bakuman, a manga about creating manga produced by the…


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One of my more masculine moments…

If you’ve read my book, Driving by Starlight, you probably know that I grew up in Saudi Arabia, possibly the most gender-segregated place on the planet. Men wore white thobes, women wore black abayas, and there was nothing but imprisonment or death in-between. You might also have guessed that Leena’s experiences of “passing” as a boy are based on my own.

Until I was fourteen (and intermittently after that) I passed as male whenever I felt it would be to my advantage, or would make me feel safer. I continued to do this occasionally as an adult, to the point…


When it comes to world-building, the most critical thing about a story is often not what you put in, it’s what you leave out. I read and watch a lot of fantasy and sci-fi, and while I’m usually unsurprised by the world elements (robots, aliens, vampires or other shapeshifters, clones…) what makes a world feel fresh is not the sci-fi element itself but the extent to which the world feels coherent. In the best written worlds, nothing gives you whiplash or pulls you out of the story to ask, “Wait a minute, why would…”

To achieve this takes a process…


I have left five countries already, two of them warzones. My pen-name, Deracine, comes from the French déraciné, meaning a person who has been uprooted from their natural environment, deracinated. To me, calls of patriotism have only ever meant the lure of a conditional love. Anthems that say, give and you shall receive. Rhetoric and nostalgia may hide, respectively, the debts being collected under the banner of “ask not what your country can do for you,” or “Make America great again,” but the conditionality of citizenship is always right there.

As someone who, in a past life, studied and taught…


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Some weeks ago, author Elizabeth Gilbert hosted Mikki Kendall on Instagram Live to talk about Mikki’s NYT bestselling book Hood Feminism.

Mikki reads this quote from her incredible book that I gobbled in a single day:

“Respectability requires a form of restrained, emotionally neutral politeness that is completely at odds with any concept of normal human emotions.

The emotional labor required to be respectable, to never ruffle anyone’s feathers, to not get angry enough to challenge much less confront those who might have harmed you, is incredibly onerous precisely because it is so dehumanizing. Respectability requires not just a stiff…


The following is a work of fiction. I do not own the character of Sebastian Michaelis, although I do wish he were real.

I just needed to get this out so I could go back to writing The Night Wolves.

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Day 1: It wasn’t like that at all.

An admin’s day begins early. In this modern world of flexible hours and video calls, one might say the day has always already begun. Nor, as we shall soon see, does it ever end, not even with death.

Sebastian delivers the day’s agenda to his employer along with breakfast: a poached egg with sundried tomato pesto, a flaky…


To be contrary, I’m posting this without getting it edited first.

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There are endless articles, videos and masterclasses out there on how to edit. Take a step back from your work, they say. Cut everything that isn’t critical to the story. That tired phrase, kill your darlings, gets repeated as if you, dear writer, are simply a child wilfully holding onto a security blanket that keeps you from growing up.

There is virtually nothing out there on how to be edited, especially on how to allow your work to come under scrutiny without losing your voice or the story you…


Disclaimer: This is not my story. And it’s not even the story of the person who told it to me. It’s a hypothetical, an if. Because we cannot tell our stories unless we hide who we are. This goes out to everyone who was told to shut up, to speak up, to fix it, to lean in, to not worry, or to let it go.

About a year ago something happened. There was no confusion, misinterpretation or gray area. It was overt sexual harassment. Not the kind where you’re not sure if something is wrong or if you misunderstood someone…


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I’ve been on a pet project for the last few months, reading the first chapter of nearly five hundred books to see if I can identify what works and what doesn’t.

I came up with a list of five things I absolutely need to know in the first chapter of a book. In a book done well, I don’t even realize these questions are being answered. And most books answer them poorly, or not at all.

Desire

What does your protagonist want?

“Make your characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water. Characters paralyzed by the…


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

I stand in front of the mirror on Monday morning, getting ready for work. When I close my eyes I’m back in the doctor’s office. I imagine my insides, shriveled and discolored, recoiling from the thick biopsy needle. The image that comes to mind is a grotesque apparition, not quite a Dorian Gray portrait, but close. …

Anat Deracine

Author of "Driving by Starlight" https://goo.gl/N35aS1 and “The Night Wolves” http://bit.ly/TheNightWolves I'm on Twitter at @anat_deracine

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