Name: Derek Baxter
What you Write: Working on a narrative nonfiction book about my travels with a guidebook Thomas Jefferson wrote on Europe.
Agent: Amanda Jain
What genres do you write? Read? Travel and history. Rich on their own, but blended they’re as delicious as Burgundy with chocolate. I am writing about my adventures following a guide written by Thomas Jefferson, Hints for Americans Traveling in Europe, in which he set out an itinerary and subjects to explore. With Jefferson’s advice in hand, I set out on a search for meaning, revolution, and macaroni and cheese.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media? www.jeffersontravels.com, https://www.facebook.com/jeffersontravels, https://twitter.com/derekjbaxter. On my website, feel free to sign up for THE PURSUIT, my occasional newsletter about the making of my book.
If you could invite two authors, living or dead, to a literary dinner party, who would they be? J.D. Salinger and Harper Lee. Naturally, neither would come. I would wind up eating dinner by myself with my nose in a book, drinking the entire bottle of wine I had been saving for them. That is to say, a typical Monday night.
Day or Night writer? The morning, bright and early!
Drink of choice when writing? Some form of alcohol, naturally. Have these questions gotten judgmental all of a sudden or is it just me?
Why did you choose the genre you’ve chosen? I love the challenge of adapting techniques from fiction—plot, character development, narrative arcs, and the like—to a series of true events. Throughout narrative nonfiction I look to unearth the stories hiding in a mass of facts.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing? “I cannot live without books” —Thomas Jefferson. He bought nearly 10,000 volumes over a span of seven decades. Even with these books, he eventually died, however.
Tell us a bit about your writing process. Where do you write, and how often?
The key is maintaining a consistent writing routine. I try to write an hour and a half each day, ideally in the same seat at the same café. Here is a breakdown of a typical morning:
7:30 arrive to find my seat taken; take a nearby seat and glower.
7:35 double check that no other author has published my book yet.
7:40 look for comments on my author Facebook page.
7:49 since I’m writing about Thomas Jefferson, remember a kid named Thomas from my 6th grade class and Google him (research).
7:53 send a mental plea to the person in my seat to leave so I can begin writing.
7:57 revise my prior day’s work, starting with deleting Oxford commas.
8:01 maybe I should have picked John Adams.
8:04 temporarily lift writing anxieties with the purchase of a croissant
8:09 restore Oxford commas.
8:13 boil with seething resentment at the person who has not only taken my seat, but stolen my good words for the day.
8:14 the day! my writing day will soon be over. panic.
8:15-8:55 write maniacally, words streaming out as if another person is telling me them. ride the flow and wish it would last forever.
8:56 shoot a look at my neighbor, conveying: you tried to outfox me but you failed. I wrote. keep that seat if it means so much to you.
8:59 leave by the back entrance. The rest of the day might prove to be a Dumpster fire, but nothing can stop me from smiling. I have my two pages.