I started California while at an artists’ residency in Wyoming called Ucross. I had an enormous writing studio there, and I didn’t have anything to do but create art. Seriously: deer pranced by my window, birds called out, and my lunches and dinners were prepared for me. I wrote the first 40 pages of the book there, and mostly did so in complete silence. This is different from my usual process; at home I listen to music on my headphones as I write. Much of California was written to the creepy electronic music of Fever Ray; the songs scared and moved me, and allowed me to enter Frida and Cal’s world.
After I left Ucross, I wrote the book either from my desk in my living room, or from my neighbor’s kitchen table—by then I’d had my baby and was using their apartment as a kind of office whenever I had a sitter. Sometimes I would work at a nearby cafe called Paper or Plastik; in fact, there’s a line in the book about a barista checking her lipstick in the reflection of the espresso machine, which happened right in front of me as I was writing!
I always write on my laptop but I do a lot of free writing and problem solving in my journal as well. I love to read the work aloud, too, to get the prose rhythm right. My best writing happens between 9:30 am to noon. I turn off the Internet and go…