July 26, 2022

How do you write a best-seller? with Ayana Gray

Writing is a special kind of solitary torture. The only thing about it anyone ever sees is the end result, the finished, published work resting on shelves. In today's booktok culture, books are consumed at lightning speed and reviewers rush to deliver the most controversial hot take they can think of for engagement. Years of a person's life are spent writing the stories that become our blockbuster movies or our summer beach reads. Years spent alone in a room somewhere with a pen and paper or a keyboard tapping out scenes and dialogue only to scrap it all later and rewrite. Creating work, toiling over its perfection, and then navigating social media to spread the word is all part of the job of a writer these days, on top of all the other actual work the author must do to create something special.

It's agony. It's glorious. And, for some, it's incredibly rewarding. 

Ayana Gray's debut novel, Beasts of Prey, did something few debut authors achieve: it hit the New York Times bestseller list. Her follow up, Beasts of Ruin, is poised to do the same. (It's out today.) We sat down for a discussion on the work of writing, how that job has expanded, navigating how much of ourselves we give away, and how much we get to keep. 

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