A Day in the Life of a Fantasy Author by Suzanne Johnson

A Day in the Life of a Fantasy Author

Suzanne Johnson

8_16 Suzanne_Johnson-July2013There’s no better life than that of an author of paranormal fantasy. Glamour, excitement, adulation. It’s all there.

On a typical day, after sleeping until mid-morning, I shuffle, coffee in hand, to check email. Then I down a box of bonbons while reading the pages I wrote last night after returning from a weeklong trip to the French countryside to feed my muse and…

Oh, wait. I was dreaming. Sorry about that.

Actually, it is 6: 15 a.m., and I’m crawling out of bed, bleary-eyed because I was up working until six hours ago. I check email, shower and dress quickly, and trot downstairs to feed my two elderly dogs, who are sitting beside their empty bowls with recriminating expressions on their graying faces. My “parental” duties thus met, I grab a diet soda and a protein bar, throw both in my purse, and rush out.

I might or might not take out a bag of trash along the way. Because this is the glamorous life.

By 7:15 a.m., I have assumed the guise of my Day Job, where I am the mild-mannered editor of a university magazine. The drama of the job rises throughout the morning as I segue from the thrill of writing obituaries for dead alumni to crunching budget figures for the new fiscal year.

At noon, my brain fairly pickled from dead folks and production numbers, I open up my “to do” file—a thirty-page document filled with blogs to write, interviews to do, workshops I’m teaching, and book deadlines, all organized by date. So paranoid am I about losing this document—and thus my life—that I first back it up to my cloud drive even though I know I did it last night.

For the next hour, I work on whatever has the hottest deadline, check it twice, and send it to whoever is waiting for it. (Yes, as I write these lines, it is half past noon on a Friday.)

From 1:00 until 5:00 p.m., my soul is again owned by the day job, where this week I’m frantically proofing copy for the Fall 2013 issue, due to the printer by the end of the day. I finish with fifteen minutes to spare, time I spend returning the phone call of an older gentleman who needs his address changed and mine was the first number he found. Being hard of hearing himself, apparently, he feels the need to impart this information in a full scream just in case I’m hard of hearing, too. I have a headache.

After a lengthy five-minute commute (hey, there are advantages to living in a small college town), I get home, pick up my mail, and enter the house to find the same two elderly dogs sitting by the same two empty bowls with the same accusatory looks on their same graying faces. They do not want to hear about my day. They want to hear about when dinner is coming.

I proceed to dispense more Pedigree before throwing raw spinach in a bowl, tossing in a few shrimp and sliced strawberries on top of that, and drowning the whole mess in balsamic vinaigrette. Yes, every night. Sometimes I have chicken instead of shrimp. My needs are simple.

I eat my paltry low-carb dinner while watching PBS programming to enrich my mind…Oh, okay. I eat while watching the latest episode of “Ice Road Truckers” or “Big Brother” or “Gator Boys.” Give me a break. I’ve dealt with dead people and misplaced modifiers and screaming address-changers all day.

At 7:30 p.m., after making sure the elderly dogs are settled and snoring happily from their respective corners of the front hallway, I head upstairs and crank up the computer, staring in horror at the things still unchecked for the day on my “to-do” file. I finish those by 9 p.m., at which time—finally—I can begin writing.

8_16 Elysian FieldsFor three hours, or until exhaustion sets in, I play with Cajun mermen, devise new spells for wizards to cast, churn up sexual tension between my heroine and her partner, decide what morally ambiguous actions my elves will next take, burn down a house or two, and craft everything as carefully and cleanly as I can.

Those three hours are priceless (and, I should add, expand greatly on most weekend days, so that I can actually finish multiple books a year). Those three hours are the reward that makes the rest of the day worthwhile.

Because this being an author thing? There’s no better life, even without the bonbons.


  1. Roger Simmons says:

    Exciting. No dogs, yet, do have my daughters cat. Left in my care as she ran off to college. She’s out of school and teaching middle school now, eighth grade. Sandy is a reading/literature specialist. And I still have the cat!!! I think Patches is 13 now. So that’s old for a cat. I talk to her, but she doesn’t answer much. Unless it’s time for a treat. Fun post. Thanks.

  2. ^^ My dog is waking me up when he wants he breakfast^^,, or the day when it’s market ( he love getting his bit of melon from teh vendors in summer ( only when the level of sugar in the fruist has reached a certian level, at least i know i won’t regret if i buy one then)… at the moment he thinks it’s market too often ( 3 days a week is enough^^ and on those day he wake me up when they haven’t arrived yet so while i takle my breakfast he watch me like ” hurry we will be late!!!”…. usually it mean we will have to go twice to let them have time to put their shop^^:

    i really admire you for managing such days so many deadline and works for 3h of pleasure…and what a quality!
    i can only said one thing… COURAGE ( even more since you got less sleep even thanks to the little bats^^uninvited)

  3. What a jam packed day! Thanks for all your hard work because your stories are awesome!

  4. Stephanie F. says:

    I commend you for being able to do all that each and every day. I get stressed just dealing with taking kids to school, cleaning house, dealing with a upset friend on the phone, listening to my mom still treating me like I’m 15 and then making dinner. Lol
    It’s great that you enjoy writing your stories. It shows in the fantastic work you do.

  5. Barbara Elness says:

    Wow, the glamorous life of an author. 😀 I can’t believe you have the energy to do any of that stuff after working all day. I come home and play on the computer and then watch some television and nothing else. I don’t even have any pets right now. So I admire your persistence in making it work so you can do something you love to do.

  6. eli yanti says:

    so pathetic 🙂

  7. I love getting a peek inside the life of an author 🙂

  8. Linda Townsend says:

    I’m a dog lover too so I totally relate. Thanks for the glimpse into your everyday… :-)))

  9. Eva Millien says:

    Thanks for sharing a Day in Your Life. Sounds like an interesting life. evamillien at gmail dot com

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