Presently, as I write this sentence, I’m at Gatwick airport, near London in the UK. I’m not ready to jet off to warmer climes for the purpose of chatting to excited fans about my collected writery works. Instead… I’m on a train.
Gatwick is a daily stop for me on my commute up to London. And it’s on this train, that I usually do my writing. Today, I’m taking care of blog business and writing something for my Ozzie author friend, Susan May, the force behind best-selling Indie anthology, FROM THE INDIE SIDE. Susan contacted me last year and kindly asked if I would be a part of the project, and of course, I said yes.
She’s asked me to write a blog about writing in general and to answer a few questions as part of a blog hop for FROM THE INDIE SIDE—more on that later.
So after a lot of thought and planning, I’m using this time today to chat about:
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Yes, I‘ve no idea what this blog is going to be about just yet. But, as I never know where I ‘m going when I start writing a short story or novel, I thought I’d do the same on my blog and see where I ended up.
Here we go… Writing, for me, is a solitary exercise, disconnecting almost. Of course I’m surrounded by interesting events and characters, and I lose myself in them, but it’s still me sitting at my laptop on my own, tapping plastic, making stuff up and sometimes drinking tea.
It’s my single force of will that drives this behaviour—no matter how irritating, frustrating or, quite frankly, depressing. It’s me who writes myself into annoying corners, me who sits staring at timelines and character motivations, at plot and my quite awful prose with a look of hopelessness. Me who wonders why I keep doing this to myself.
More than often, my stories descend into confusion, becoming a crazy splat of random ideas, characters and events. And I’m pretty sure this is where some of the other guys who use this, for want of a better word, ‘technique’ might just give up.
I know I do, over and over again.
Or I would do, if not for my dogged sub-consciousness, which is always working away, even when I’m on the PlayStation, boozing or watching Columbo. Every now and then, it drops a little solution into my cerebral cortex as if from nowhere. And CLANG! There I am, full of problem-solved excitement, sitting back in front of the laptop. A little step is made to help me find a way out of another frustrating Cul-de-Sac. These are magic moments. I’d go as far as to say these moments are better than finishing, or even holding the printed version. It’s the main reason why I write.
Someone once asked me how I managed to create such a tight, self-contained plot for my debut novel, BLUE INTO THE RIP. They couldn’t imagine that I’d started without any structure. They were perplexed that nothing was planned—that instead, I found the story along the way.
But that’s my technique. I start writing, make a terrible mess, tidy it up and we’re done. I’m always surprised by the result.
Of course, I have ideas for certain events that I want to include—sometimes very random stuff—sometimes plots points etc. But a hefty 90 or so per cent is voyage of pure discovery.
Now onto the blog hop.
What’s a blog hop, you ask? Well the answer mostly goes along the lines of—I didn’t know either until I’d had it all explained to me (it took a few emails granted) by the antipodean force behind the Indie Author Anthology, FROM THE INDIE SIDE, Susan May.
It’s a sort of linked blog to those included in the anthology, allowing you to hop from one author to another to get a flavour of those who took part. There are a few similar author questions that I’m required to answer, but other than that, I’ve pretty much free reign to witter on about writery stuff, which is what I’ve now done.
The anthology is a wonderful read. It takes me back to my youth. Anthologies were great ways to find new authors, and this anthology is no different. It is crammed to the gills with some fantastic stories. I have my favourites, but I can’t tell you which ones! I’m sure you will find your favourites as well.
So let’s get the blog hop started.
How does your work differ from others in its genre?
I’m presently writing in three genres. As a new author, I should be stamping myself upon a single genre and style. It makes sense from a marketing perspective. But I can’t be doing the same thing over and over. I crave variety. So I’ve my sci-fi series INTO THE RIP, my very soon to be released epic fantasy adventure THE COWL (Book #1 of the IRONSCYTHE SAGAS) and my upcoming paranormal sci-fi London thriller, male-melodrama, comedy horror: KILLER PICCADILLY.
My problem as a consumer of films, TV and books, is that I get bored. I’ve always had this affliction. It’s a terrible admission, but I find it impossible to finish the lion’s share of any of these without losing interest half-way through. I like to be startled. I like to have no idea what is going to happen next. Cosy fiction is fine—but it’s not for me. This is reflected in what I write—or at least that’s what I’m aiming for. But clichés still slip in here and there, and when I spot one, I try and turn it 180 degrees.
I also presently write exclusively in Third Person Omnipotent. This makes my stories harder to get into. Readers will always be one step removed from the main character. But I have always liked this disconnection, it makes me try so much harder to draw the reader in—it stretches me as a writer. And there is something about the statement ‘it was hard to get into, but once I did, it was a great read’ that I like. Nearly all my favourite books were like this.
Having said that, I’m presently writing the sequel to BLUE INTO THE RIP, which starts off with a hefty First Person section, and I’m loving it. And I’m thinking of a Third Person Limited short, just to try it out. Maybe for the next anthology if I’m asked.
How does my writing process work?
I think I might’ve accidentally stumbled into answering this question. I really should’ve read these questions earlier. But let’s do a sort of switch-a-round. How about… what doesn’t work for me?
After my first attempt at novel writing died a painful and predictable death, I thought the way forward was planning. I downloaded a lovely planning program. I planned and thought and planned again. It was the way forward, I was convinced of it. IT WAS PLANNED! The only problem? The writing. Almost immediately, it was like the worst maths homework imaginable. Don’t get me wrong, I can do maths, it’s just that I don’t want to. It’s awful, tedious stuff. I found that I’d lost the spark for the story. Once I knew what I was to write, I’d no desire to write it.
So that’s why… I need NOT to know.
Read these great blogs from superlative writers in FROM THE INDIE SIDE: