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Monday, 7 April 2014

The Writing Process

I was asked to take part in The Writing Process Blog Tour by Lorraine Mace, a multi-talented novelist and journalist whose latest work, Call It Pretending was published through Crooked Cat in January; the third in a series. I reviewed the first, Bad Moon Rising here.

The idea of the tour is that all the writers who take part answer the same four questions about their work and their writing process, and together they form a great electronic blogging chain in the ether!

You can read Lorraine’s blog (and find out more about her writing) here.

Alas, I’m clearly a weak link in this chain as I’ve been unable to coerce, suborn or otherwise con any fellow writers into participating. To be fair, they’re all busy writing, it seems. So, the end of this entry will not link to other writers answering these 4 questions, after all. I will append several interesting blogs/websites you may care to visit, however.

1) What am I working on?
Having just finished a crime-thriller novel, the first in ‘The Cat series’, I’m now working on To Be King, a fantasy novel with Gordon Faulkner. He has created the fantasy world, its history and geography, and many of the main characters; I put meat and clothing etc on them, and inject additional sub-plots. This is a sequel to Wings of the Overlord which is being published by Knox Robinson in June, the first in a series entitled The Chronicles of Floreskand. It’s fun writing about a fantasy land, creating larger-than-life characters and threats. [Yesterday’s blog is about the launch – I got authorisation from the publisher yesterday to shout out about it.]

I’m also working on the second in ‘The Cat series’, Catacomb. I really enjoyed the first story, Catalyst, which ranged from London, Seahouses, Portsmouth, Barcelona and the Riviera [and hasn't been accepted yet...!]. Catacomb takes place mainly in Morocco.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Plenty of fantasy books are co-written. Yet if the world building is comprehensive, then it’s bound to be different. The characters are grounded in reality though supernatural and fantastic elements intrude. My crime-thriller books tend to be fast-paced, with strong female protagonists, and inhabit the real world, often going to places I’ve known.

3) Why do I write what I do?
I write in almost any genre maybe because I enjoy reading in most genres. Eclectic is doubtless the posh word for that... Some stories and characters lend themselves to a particular form.

I’m drawn mainly to the crime-thriller and westerns, I suppose, since I’ve written most in those categories. Of course westerns involve crime, romance, and thriller elements too! As I’ve travelled quite a bit (the Royal Navy helped there), I might be drawn to involve a foreign place I’ve visited; even then, I’d want to back up my reminiscences with research.

4) How does my writing process work?
As Anthony Burgess said, ‘I start at the beginning, go on to the end, and stop.’ Though of course it isn’t always so linear. I have a plot-plan, whether this is when writing my own books or a co-written one.
With the Floreskand series, the plot-plan is devised by Gordon, but there are plenty of blank sections that need filling. As Gordon lives in Scotland and I’m in Spain, it’s a distance thing, but thankfully with the Internet that doesn’t pose a great problem. I write, based on his plot-line, throwing him a few curved balls along the way, and he hits me with stuff I didn’t know about, maybe concerning a particular family’s history, and away we go...
For my crime-thrillers, I usually do research on the places the characters are going to visit; this often supplies me with additional plot devices.
And for my westerns, I think up the characters and plot first, then apply whatever research is necessary, whether that’s Civil War knowledge or the flora and fauna of South Dakota, for example.

I write most days. For each project I maintain a spread-sheet so I know how long I’ve spent on any book. This process is explained in greater detail in my book Write a Western in 30 Days - with plenty of bullet points! As the reviewers say, it's of use to writers of all genres, not only westerns. The day will be divided into attending to e-mails, social media and blog, shopping, gardening, other chores, and creative writing; the latter may be the WIP or a short story or article. No two days are alike. I may be ‘retired’ but I’m never bored!
Random selection of websites/blogs of interest:

David W. Robinson – crime novelist with over a dozen books to his name, now embarking on a supernatural series -

Tom Rizzo – novelist, interviewer, really nice guy -

Paul D. Brazill – Brit novelist and short story writer of noir crime who lives in Poland -

James Reasoner – multi-genre, prolific author -

The Rap Sheet - an essential resource for readers seeking information about what’s new and interesting in the world of crime fiction. It covers crime, mystery, and thriller fiction both recent and vintage, appearing in all media--print as well as broadcast. -

A few Facebook groups:

Authors, Readers, Reviewers and Bloggers
Book Club
Crooked Cat Readers Community
British Science Fiction Association
Shutists - if you're a Nevil Shute fan...
Make Mine Mystery

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