For the last three years and change, Marlon James has been writing steadily and regularly at Camp Cedar Pines, a writer’s retreat created by novelist John Wray in his Brooklyn brownstone. “At any given point there are five authors working here, including at one time two finalists for the National Book award in rooms facing each other,” he says. His room, currently adorned with African art and maps of the fantasy world he’s created for his three-volume African fantasy series, overlooks a school–a plus for James. “I’m from a noisy island, so outside sound feels reassuringly normal,” he says. “I get why writers need a quiet space, but quietness always felt like deafness to me. I find it extremely unnerving and anti-creative.” A prolific writer, James is a stickler for routine, putting in a regular “9-ish to 5-ish” workday. It may be why he was able to write his epic 600-plus page Black Leopard, Red Wolf in the space of 18 months, and then repeat the trick with his follow-up, Moon Witch, Spider King, due for release in February. “Set a routine and the muses will show up,” he says. Sage advice. All you need to do is stick to it.