Below is a post with a few questions and answers as part of a writers process blog chain going around the internet. I was nominated by Ruth Booth on her website and so at the bottom I’ve highlighted three more people who at some point in the future may post a similar blog. You get the idea.
What am I working on?
Currently I’m hip deep in structural edits for Battlemage which is due out next year in October from Orbit. When that’s done I will switch back to working on the first draft of book 2, while somewhere in the back of my head I will start knitting together the strands for book 3. I’m also nudging along a couple of comic book projects, both of which I’m co-writing with Pete Rogers. The first is a SF contemporary thriller graphic novel, and the other is a fly by the seat of your pants action thriller. A while ago now, I wrote a game for a computer games company, and that’s currently in the testing phase, so every now and then I play through sections of the game and send in my notes. Then a few weeks later download the next version and start all over again.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
This is a really tough question and there’s no easy way to answer it. In the future I suspect other people will point out the similarities between my work and other fantasy writers, as well as some of the influences that are obvious to them. From the inside looking out, all I can say is I think my novels are a blend of modern and classic fantasy elements. They’re more fantastical than some, as magic is overt and not something that is brushed under the carpet, or only referred to in passing by characters. Also there are some non-human races of my own creation that are not facsimiles of orcs, trolls or elves. So this isn’t an alternate Medieval version of Earth, it’s definitely a totally different world. At the same time I have a modern eye, so I’m influenced by modern literature and media, which I think affects everything from character, to story, to pacing, to world building. One example is that while my dialogue is modern up to a point, it is also right for the setting, so no characters says OK, or Yeah at any time. Beyond that I’m not sure what else to add, but I’m positive other people will tell me.
Why do I write what I do?
Because no one else can write it. That might sound flippant or arrogant, but it’s not intended to be either. If someone had consumed all of the same books, TV, films, comics etc, that I have, and even if you gave them the core of the idea, the output would be different. I have several friends who have consumed a lot of the same stuff, but when we talk about stories they have radically different ideas and approaches. We’re all products of not only our upbringing, family, relationships, experiences and so on, but we all react differently to situations. All of which is shaped by decades of experience which creates someone unique. There are so many random factors in there I’m certain I have missed plenty of other things that shape us. At an early age I became interested in fantasy and because my mum saw how much it made me want to read, she picked up a set of fantasy related picture books which I flew through. That was just one small thing that directed me over the years. Simply put I write fantasy stories because I love the genre and the freedom it gives me. It’s where I feel most comfortable when writing stories conjured from my imagination.
How does my writing process work?
I think it’s fairly traditional. I use a word processor, I don’t have timers that switch off the internet for an hour or two and I don’t set word counts for the day or week. I scribble down ideas in a notebook as and when they occur. I would describe my writing style as more of an architect than a gardener. I plan out the spine of the story, the main beats, the start, middle and end. I add in some mile markers along the way and revisit it at this level until it hangs together. Then I add a bit more detail and break it down into chapters while thinking about character and story arcs. Then I start writing, but I don’t plan every chapter down to the nth degree or every little detail. I know who is in each chapter, what needs to happen and where it takes places, but there has to be some discovery in the process for me, or else it will become tiresome and boring. And if it is boring for me to write it will be boring and very dry to read. So there is a random element in there, and sometimes it emerges as a new point of view. Sometimes they are minor characters and sometimes they become important and their story starts to intertwine with that of the main characters. Sometimes I write about something I’ve never mentioned before and then I have to puzzle out where it came from in my subconscious and what it actually means. Once the first draft is done I go back and edit it many times before I show it to anyone.
Who to pass this on to?
Kim Curran – Kim is the author of the Shift, Control and Delete trilogy from Strange Chemistry, the YA imprint of Angry Robot books. She is also the author of Glaze, a new novel that has just come out and you can find more info about it on her website. I first met Kim a couple of years ago at an Eastercon convention I think it was where a large group of people went out to dinner. I must have avoided putting my size elevens in my mouth as she’s still talking to me.
Adrian Faulkner – Adrian is the author of The Four Realms from Anarchy Press. He is also a record breaking geocacher, storm chaser (no, really!) and all around good egg. He’s a top bloke, great creative writer and has been my stalwart companion at conventions for the last few years. You can find more information about Adrian here.
Chris F. Holm – Chris is the author of The Collector series from Angry Robot. They’re an incredible series of books and the easiest way I have found to describe them is demonic hard-boiled, pulpy noir. You can find more information about Chris on his website here.