Cracking certain aspects of The Forgotten Son is proving to be quite a challenge. Mostly it’s the time period — 1969 may as well be a hundred years for all the changes we’ve seen over the decades since. Indeed, in some ways it’s almost like visiting an alien world. It does make me wonder what would happen should one of us travel back to March 1969, just how well would we manage to blend in? I suspect not very well at all.
Today I’ll be, largely, working (or rather re-working) on the second scene of chapter one. Much like the prologue it is so very important to get the first chapter right. It sets the tone for the book (and in some ways for the entire series of novels), as well as introduces readers to the characters they’ll spend many hours with (if not years in the case of at least two characters — although in some regards it’ll almost be a re-introduction for some readers). Characters, however, are not the issue. I pride myself on being able to create a cast of characters who become as real to the readers as the people they know in their personal lives. Even using a previously created (and well-established) character will not be an issue for me, since the lead of this series is a character I have known for many many years. No, the biggest issue is, as mentioned above, establishing the period in which the book is set. 1969!
The trick now is to ‘add flavour’, little props and background details that tell the reader what year they’re in. I’m fortunate in that for the most part The Forgotten Son is set in a small Cornish town and is, thusly, not overly influenced by the popular culture of 1969. However this doesn’t mean I can ignore the ephemera of the time. Indeed, it’s such ephemera that will help set the period. Old cars, grubby children playing on the streets and not stuck in doors playing computer games, the pocket transistor radio, old red phone boxes, large house phones that can only go as far as the cord stretches… Many little things that make the period. Things that are, for us now, so obsolete that teenagers would barely recognise them. Like 8-tracks — who remembers them? A popular way of listening to pre-recorded music while travelling in cars, before the rise of cassette tapes and, much later, compact discs. Popular music was on the rise in the ’60s, especially for teenagers, and so they were very open to new ways of listening to music with greater availability. Which brings me to the scene I’ll be heavily re-working today.
I’ve already created a new teenage character called Charles Watts, who will serve as a direct link to the happenings in London and, by extension, helps to encourage my wannabe skinhead character, Louis, who covets the London life he reads and hears so much about in the papers and television news reports. These two will be the direct link, and main reference point, for the popular teen culture of the time. To add flavour and remind the readers that they’re in 1969. To this end I’ve even gone against type (well, for me) and researched the football of the time. Which is something I never thought I’d do. Football is not now, and nor will it ever be, a passion of mine. Indeed, I can barely tolerate it, but it does seem to be a popular thing for most men, teenagers in particular. This all ties in to my earlier remark about the transistor radio, and having my teen characters listening to a real football match on the ‘tranny’, as it was often called (a word that also illustrates how much times have changed since 1969). Everybody, even me, knows of the World Cup of 1966, alas that’s three years too early for my purposes. Pity, as I wouldn’t actually need to research that — such is the historical importance of that event (I may not like football, but I can’t deny it). The match I’ve chosen does specifically date the book, literally to the day, and I’m expecting lots of boos and hisses from a large section of fandom, but alas an executive choice on dating was needed and it has been made.
How is this all going to work out? Splendidly is how. ;)
So, what have I been doing the last few days? Well, first a few words on Project Hush-Hush.
How The Forgotten Son opens is hugely important, more so than usual for a book. The opening lines are so vital to the success or failure of any novel, but when it’s the first of a new series of a licensed project, those first few lines, indeed the whole prologue, is even more important. And so the publisher and I have been discussing this opening, and it occurred to us that I am in a unique position to rewrite a piece of history — or rather add something new to a piece of history that means a lot to a lot of people. Yup, this is one of those entries where I can’t reveal too much about the content of the writing — the scene is too big and too integral to the concept of the series that to reveal its contents would spoil so much. So, you’ll have to just bear with me and believe me when I say that reworking the prologue is a unique thrill that may not ever be one I experience again.
I was showing the first line to two friends yesterday, both of whom are big fans (of what? Well, that would be telling), and only one of them understood the in-joke of that very first line and just what it meant. Just goes to show there are different levels of fans. I’m confident though that the majority of fans will get it, and that one line will set the tone for the rest of the series.
In other news I was at another Candy Jar Book Festival event yesterday, this time discussing ‘monsters and mirrors’ with fellow author Benjamin Burford-Jones. It was an interesting little talk. Not many turned up, but we did get an interesting few including a couple of kids who had all kinds of random questions to ask about monsters in fiction. My favourite part was the girl’s answer to my question, ‘what monsters do you like best in Doctor Who?‘. The answer? Why, the cake monster. Of course! (Must be an episode I’ve never seen!) During this event I also did a little bit of acting! Sort of. Ben was going to read an extract from his book, Beware of the Mirror Man, but it soon became obvious that he doesn’t have the most involving reading voice so I happened upon an idea. The section he chose features two characters — Sophie and Ell. Now, Ell is a mimic who happens to have a cockney voice, and as the title of the blog suggests I am something of a Londoner (albeit one who was born in Wales). So we acted out the scene, with me providing the cockney-voice of Ell. Which was great as Ell by far got the best lines in that scene, and we got a couple of giggles from the kids. Job done! ;)
Next up,as well as the ongoing research for The Forgotten Son I have the proofed version of Sharon Bidwell’s The Draco Eye to go through, and looking through the proofs of my forthcoming short story collection. All the stories in the latter have been published individually by Untreed Reads Publishing over the last four years, but they’re putting them into one all-new volume for release in a couple of months. So look out for that one!
Now, it’s time to head back to find out how John James is dealing with the creature that he’s discovered in the back garden…
First up, been doing a little bit of work on Project Hush-Hush today. Adding a new character to the mix, since I felt something was missing from the twins’ plot, something to ground it to the bigger picture and the ’60s. And so Charles Watts has joined the twins, now named Louis and Owain. I was planning on getting on with the next chapter, since I’m looking forward to upping the creep factor by introducing Mary and her bizarre journey, but first I need to re-jig chapter one a little. Which includes renaming a couple of characters so that their names more clearly reflect the year in which they were born — no point given them a name that probably wasn’t used in, say, 1930.
In other news, my fellow author, Sharon Bidwell, has taken up the gauntlet and added her own Writing Process entry to the ongoing blog tour. Please do pop by to see what she has to say about her own processes. She even has this to say about me; ‘Andy is mostly a plotter. When we co-authored a book together I found it a little exhausting and it wasn’t just because we were stepping in at short notice and had limited time. Andy is fast and he tends to know exactly where he wants to go.’ Which is nice. And may even be true. :)
For the sake of context, let me explain. Sharon is an author I always wanted to have write for Space: 1889 & Beyond and, with a little encouragement, she agreed and wrote A Fistful of Dust. In fact, her first draft of that book came in before any other manuscript for the second season, even though it was to be fifth in the run. Along the way disaster struck and I lost the author of the second book in the season, and with time running out I needed to turn around a second book and quick. Re-enter Sharon. Since she had a good handle on the universe I sweet-talked her into helping me write the second book, Mundus Cerialis, which we did in ten days. I think for Sharon it was a whole new pace of writing, but she secretly enjoyed it and was amazed at how quick it turned around. I was so impressed, and in her debt, that I made her write another book. I’m nice like that. But to give her a little incentive, I allowed her the joy of bringing dragons into the Space: 1889 & Beyond universe — she LOVES dragons! How could she refuse? The result of this will be seen next month when her novel, The Draco Eye, is released.
So, instead, here’s a picture of me and my fellow author, Anthony Ormond, and the head honcho of Candy Jar Books, Shaun Russell. We were down the Hayes in Cardiff, selling and signing books and meeting our adoring fans. Most of whom were obviously put off by the tempestuous weather. Still, it was a nice day with much talking about Project Hush-Hush and the exciting follow up to Anthony’s brand new novel, Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You!
More news soon!
I’m very pleased to announce I’ll be a part of the forthcoming Candy Jar Book Festival. Not only will I be joining Benjamin Burford-Jones for a talk on monsters and aliens in fiction, I’ll also be on hand at the Stall in the Hayes, Cardiff, at various points throughout the week to meet with readers, sign my book, and discuss Doctor Who with whoever will listen. But there’s much more going on than just that. Take a look below!
The festival runs from Saturday August 9th through to Saturday August 16th. Candy Jar Books will at the Hayes, Cardiff, ever day with authors signing books. On top of that many events are running throughout the month; including an exciting range of discussions, author meetings/signings and workshops to offer something for everyone. Right click here to save and download the PDF timetable or alternatively look at the list below to find out what’s going on!
- Eileen Younghusband (Sat 9th from 11am)
- Mark Brake (Sat 9th from 3pm)
- Anthony Ormond, Andy Frankham-Allen and Cardiff Jack Sparrow! (Sun 10th)
- Laura Foakes and Emma Taylor (Tues 12th from 12:30pm)
- Michaela Weaver (Weds 13th from 10:30am)
- Joanne Teague (Weds 13th from 1pm)
- Penny Richards (Thurs 14th, 11am-1pm)
- Benjamin Burford-Jones (Sat 16th from 12:01pm)
Plus special guests throughout the week!
Timetable for discussions and workshops is;
Saturday August 9th
THE SCIENCE OF DOCTOR WHO
The Doctor Who universe is one of aliens and time machines, cyborgs and supermen. Conjuring up evidence on the themes of space, time, machine, and monsters, author Mark Brake and TV presenter Jon Chase deliver their verdict on the science of The Doctor.
Mark’s books include Space, Time, Machine, Monster (an irreverent look at how science fiction has impacted and changed our lives), as well as Space Hoppers, Really, Really Big Questions about Space and Time and The Alien Hunter’s Handbook.
Monday August 11th
MAKE YOUR OWN PICTURE BOOK
Lynda Nash invites you to join her in this creative workshop and have fun bringing your stories to life.
Lynda teaches GCSE English and Creative Writing. Her work has been published in various magazines, including Penumbra, Square, First Edition and Mslexia. She contributes to Buzz Magazine and runs Little Writers Inc, a Newport-based writing group for budding authors.
Danny Down the Drainpipe is her first book for children.
Tuesday August 12th
HOW TO BE A FIBBER EXTRAORDINAIRE
A workshop designed for the liar and fibber in everyone. Come and meet Laura Foakes to discover how lying can produce a winning novel. She will be joined by illustrator Emma Taylor. Between them they have conquered Everest, danced with dinosaurs, and fought off ferocious ninjas.
The Liars’ and Fibbers’ Academy stands out as a truly original story, with drama, humour, twists and turns, weird and wonderful escapades and so many fantastic standout characters. Honest!
Tuesday August 12th
HOW TO WRITE A PAST LIFE AUTOBIOGRAPHY
For those who have always wanted to document your past life, this is the workshop for you! Simon, a Native American in a past life, tells the story of the death and devastation brought about by the white man, and how he became one of the greatest swordsmen in pre-revolutionary France.
Mohican Reborn is an autobiography with a difference. The book tells the story of Simon Marcus Caine’s Native American past life, Arion Lightfeather.
Wednesday August 13th
SEE YOU IN SEPTEMBER – TRAVEL WRITING DISCUSSION
A workshop to help you turn your travel memories into prose. Joanne will talk about writing her moving, hilarious and uplifting book See You in September.
When Joanne learned that she may only have a few months to live, she decided to take her three children out of school and, with her husband, spend six months travelling around Europe. Why not come along meet Joanne to find out what happened next?
Wednesday August 13th
MANIC MONDAYS – CREATIVE WRITING DISCUSSION
A workshop for aspiring writers. Michaela is creative in all aspects of her life: her work, her writing and her hobbies. Having studied creative writing – and written a book herself – Michaela knows all too well the pressures aspiring writers often endure. She also recognises the benefits of thrashing out creative difficulties in a group setting, so whatever stage your novel’s at, feel free to come along for a chat over a cuppa.
Manic Mondays is Michaela’s first book.
Thursday August 14th
TOP SECRET – HOW WOMEN HELPED WIN THE WAR
The Second World War is dominated by heroic tales of men defending their country against a formidable enemy, but what about the women who also played their part in the fight for freedom? Eileen Younghusband (93) was just 18 when she joined the Women’s Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF). She quickly demonstrated her keen intellect and mathematical skills, and will be discussing the crucial role played by the women in Fighter Command’s top secret underground Filter Room.
Eileen has written three books: Not an Ordinary Life, One Woman’s War and Men I Have Known. In 2013 her writing was recognised by The People’s Book Prize when One Woman’s War won the non-fiction award.
Thursday August 14th
MONSTERS, MAGIC AND MICHELLE BRISCOMBE
Tying in with the Summer Reading Challenge, Michelle invites you to share your favourite magical books and monstrous characters. Why not bring yours along.
Michelle likes to turn her dreams into stories. These dreams may frighten her, make her laugh or wake her up. To explain these dreams, she finds it difficult but sometimes, she is able to write them down. Silent Mountain is her first (of many) books.
Friday August 15th
MONSTERS AND MIRRORS
Whether they are under the bed, in the wardrobe or behind the mirror, monsters feature heavily in TV and books. Benjamin Burford-Jones is joined by Andy Frankham-Allen to discuss how monsters have inspired their writing.
Whilst working late nights at the BBC, Benjamin would often spend his time thinking of stories and ideas, one of which being that the people on the television were in fact in the television. His début novel for children, Beware of the Mirror Man explores this idea.
Friday August 15th
A PERSONAL PORTRAIT OF THE ROYAL FAMILY
A familiar face at royal events, Colin Edwards has collated his vast collection of photographs of the Royal Family to create a new book.
His book A Personal Portrait of the Royal Family features never before seen images of Her Majesty the Queen, the Queen Mother and Diana, Princess of Wales at public events. The author also provides emotive, personal accounts of his meetings with the Royals.
Colin will be sharing some of his memories at Cardiff Central Library on Friday and signing copies of his book at WHSmith on Saturday.
Saturday August 16th
TIME TRAVEL IN FICTION
Whilst the idea of time travel seems like great fun, an innocent trip to the 1940s could have devastating consequences. Anthony Ormond delves into this fascinating subject – where paradoxes, time warps and anomalies have inspired countless TV shows, films and books.
Anthony’s début novel, Tommy Parker: Destiny Will Find You! is a youthful adventure that gives an unfamiliar twist to the time-travel genre, with the characters travelling not only through time but also through memory. Make sure you’re on time!
NOT THAT KIND OF ART (ALL AGES)
Nathan Wyburn (Art exhibition in Cardiff Story Museum throughout August)
Nathan is renowned for his original take on pop culture artwork. He’s created portraits of Simon Cowell using Marmite, Stephen Fry using egg-fried rice, and even Paul O’Grady out of dog biscuits. He has made numerous TV appearances, and a number of celebrities have commissioned his unusual pieces. This is your opportunity to view some of his wackier pieces, a number of which will appear in his book Not That Kind of Art, to be released in 2015.
Nathan first came to public attention when he appeared on Britain’s Got Talent in 2011. He reached the semi-final, and despite not winning the show, this catapulted him to success. He is launching his exhibition in Cardiff Story Museum on 1st August.
Prepare for one of the more odder entries, as I enter my own version of the twilight zone. Kind of.
Talking to Shaun last night about the ’60s and he expressed how odd he found it that I remembered so little about that time — even though I was born in ’72, a lot of the ’60s vibe still existed during my first few years and I should, really, has some idea about that time. Some kind of memory, right? You’d think so.
Fact is I’m pretty sure I didn’t exist until I was six years old (of course, if I didn’t exist then I couldn’t be any years old, just looked like I was), like something out of a John Wyndham novel, perhaps. I have vague memories of being younger, I think, like falling down the stairs and banging my head on a hot radiator (which is funny since, according to others, I never lived anywhere with a radiator at the bottom of a staircase). But the thing that confirms it for me is that there is no photographic evidence of me any younger than six. I’m serious. Now, knowing my family, the chances of no photos being taken of this handsome little version of me would be astronomic. Yet, nothing exists. I seem to recall a picture of toddler me holding a gun and wearing a cowboy hat, sat on a furry carpet of some sort, but I’m convinced I made that up since such a picture does not exist and no-one else can remember it. So if I’m right, then I didn’t exist until 1978, which explains my complete lack of familiarity of anything pertaining to the late ’60s.
When the boss quizzed me on certain things, like what I do I remember of the red telephone boxes, I could only pull up a few visual memories. Peeling paint, tattered phone books hanging off hooks, felt-tip graffiti, stuff like that. But you know, I could have picked that up when I was about six or seven; such things still existed. Or kids — did I remember how grubby kids were back then? The messy streets, rubbish on the pavement? Vaguely, perhaps. Certainly I know I wasn’t a messy child (as you can see in the picture to the right). No grubbiness here. Or was I? I don’t know. I didn’t exist before I was six. Perhaps I was, until that point, the forgotten son? That would fit.
So today I’m looking up all kinds of things from the late ’60s. I’ve seen a few cars I recognise, although most of the radio shows from Radio 1 mean nothing to me at all. As for the money… Well, what can I say? I was born the year after the UK went onto the decimal system — thank god! Damn, I feel as confused as Ace did in Remembrance of the Daleks. ‘Oh this is a stupid system.’ You said it, Ace.
In terms of actual writing, I’ll be moving on to chapter two, which will involve a very strange train journey, an old woman hearing a disembodied whisper, and the discovery of a missing corpse. At the moment I seem to going for a bit of a The Midwich Cuckoos meets Danger Man feel. As I said in a previous post, I’m all about blending genres.
See y’all tomorrow.
‘If it was anyone else I’d say let’s accept that.’ My boss’ way of complimenting me on the first draft of The Forgotten Son chapter one. Of course, what followed was a comment about because it’s me, and the series is what is is, we have to be better than just great. A sentiment I absolutely agree with.
After a very long phone call about the ’60s and how to capture that vibe in prose, I swear, if I didn’t know better I’d think Shaun Russell lived in the ’60s. Except he’s a little younger than me! (Not that you’d know it to look at us — see pic below.) ;)
So that was tonight’s little update on the progress of the book. Chapter one, draft one, is complete and comes in at just under 5,000 words. Tomorrow I shall be listening to The Who, The Kinks, Small Faces and Jehtro Tull, as well as looking at pictures of 1960s ephemera such as money, phone boxes, cars, rubbish strewn streets, and grubby kids. Who says my job isn’t fun?
So, day two of work on The Forgotten Son, book one of Project Hush-Hush. Yesterday was all about setting up the scene and mystery in the small Cornish village of Bledoe. Which meant research. Hard to believe but there was a time when I hated, and by that I mean loathed, research. These days I rather enjoy it — with every book, every scene almost, I learn something new or reaffirm something I had previously suspected.
Before I got on to talking about yesterday’s research, and shed light on the rather odd subtitle for this blog entry, I want to share a little history about Bledoe. It has a history that goes back to 1997, and a story I once wrote that was originally called The Lake (latterly WATMIB? or Who Are The Men In Black?). They say never throw away a good idea, and I’m a great believer in that. Bledoe was a fictional Cornish village where some strange things happened. I can’t tell you what, alas, since many elements from that story are being recycled for this new book — including the final title, The Forgotten. I have recycled characters from this story before. Pastor Ronald Stone was finally used as the father of chief protagonist, Nathanial Stone, in my Space: 1889 & Beyond series from 2011. A character called James (surname changed from the original book) was later used in the 2006 novella Judgement Day (the character is now closer to his original incarnation once more). So it was inevitable that Bledoe itself would be returned to at some point. The village has changed somewhat since 1998, now based loosely on the real village of St Cleer. Which is where the first bit of research came into it. Sometimes the challenge with writing is to convince the reader that you are familiar with the area you set your story in; not always is it possible to visit said location. In this case I intend to visit St Cleer in a couple of months, do some on-site research to add more flavour, but for now it’s time for the usual research methods; internet sites and, in this case, a batch of photographs sent to me by fellow scribe, Sharon Bidwell, who recently visited Golitha Falls, another key location of The Forgotten Son.
The second important piece of research is the time period. In this case we’re talking late 1960s and, since I wasn’t actually alive at that time, I have no memory from which to draw. Luckily I know plenty who do, and there are a ton of websites out there that give information on the political and popular climate of the late ’60s. Again it’s all about convincing, adding enough flavour to give a sense that the narrative is set when it’s supposed to be set. This not only comes down to small background elements, like key events of the late ’60s mentioned in passing, but in developing the characters. They all need to be believably part of that time period. I have already decided that two of the characters will be twins, who will be based somewhat loosely on two friends of mine (with permission — the fictional twins even bear the middle names of the real twins), and so the next thing to consider is how to make them different and yet very much teenagers from 1969. I was expecting to go for flowerpower but instead discovered that the skinhead movement rose to popularity in 1968. Bonus! If asked, I would never have considered developing a skinhead character (or a lemon, as they were often called, too — hence the title of this post), but I’m willing to try new things when writing — indeed, doing so is a key element of keeping writing fresh. It’s a funny thing, growing up in the ’70s and ’80s I was always aware of skinheads, but what I knew of them doesn’t match with the origins of the movement. Which means developing my fifteen-year-old skinhead should prove very interesting. And reminds me of some of my favourite ska and reggae songs from the period — Desmond Dekker’s The Israelites anyone?
That was yesterday. Today? Today it’s all about introducing the lead character of the series — the single most important scene of the book — which involves a bit more research. Not for the character, so much as what he does and the organisation he’s a part of. Ah, useless clues. Gotta love ‘em! ;)
It’s very difficult to talk about a project that isn’t allowed to be revealed in the public forum, but over the next few months, until it’s officially announced in December, I shall tell you what I can.
This all came about because a rather innocent Facebook post and happening to know the right people. It’s one of those things you can’t really plan; it just sort of happened. Right time, right place kind of deal. The process of securing the rights for this project took only a matter of weeks, really, such was the level of trust between the licence owner and I (and my publisher). It took a bit longer to decide what we were going to do with it, exactly. You see, this property we now have the exclusive rights to is something very important to a lot of people, my publisher and me included, and we know how important it is to get this right. There’s no room for error.
And yet, in spite of the sheer weight of responsibility on us to get this right, we just knew we can do it. In some ways it feels like we were born to make this happen. Will it be hard work? You betcha. Will we be taking it seriously? You betcha. Will we be having fun? Abso-fracking-lutely!
There is so much to consider when planning out this project, so much to be aware of, to be extremely careful with. We simply cannot play this loose.
My first task was to assemble a team of authors. Due to the nature of the project that was a relatively easy process; and so the upshot is I get to work with some of my favourite authors (a pleasure I’ve had in various ways for the past ten years). Normally the authors would have much more freedom, but this being the opening gambit, I had to set up a very specific shopping list for each of the first four books; fortunately this list proved to be another fun enticement for the authors who have joined us at this early stage of the project. The team assembled it’s now a case of writing this first batch of books. I’m writing the first, since it makes sense for the range editor to set everything up, although that said each of the first four books will be setting up the concept of the series gradually, instead of dumping it all on the reader in one go. I can reveal the title of the first book, since it doesn’t really give away anything about the project, and that title is; The Forgotten Son.
By the time of the official announcement the plan is to have the first three books, at least, in the bag. Including cover design. Nothing like a bit of visual stimuli to engage the interest of the public. We’ve started talking about the style of covers, and I have to say it’s going to be very exciting. We’ve talked about the tone of the series, and likened it to Adam Adamant Lives! meets The Avengers with a dash of Danger Man thrown in for good measure. We even have in mind two (maybe three) different phases for the series, three distinct periods in which to set it, utilising the same characters. What does all this mean? Well, obviously I cannot possibly explain any more than I have, but when all is revealed it will make perfect sense.
For now it’s time to start proper work on The Forgotten Son. Already Phil Raymond is feeling a chill in the air while he walks near Golitha Falls in Cornwall, and he’s not sure it’s the weather he feels…
I was recently invited to take part in the ‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour by Anthony Lavisher and, um, kind of forgot. It’s been busy times of late, with lots of projects on the go, much editing to do, and preperations being made for Project Hush-Hush (or Project: Greyhound, as Jon Cooper called it — I may end up using that term). So, since I tend to neglect my blog a lot I thought it’s about time I did something new and thus will now do my part of the ‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour…
Q1 What are you currently working on?
A book titled The Forgotten Son, which will be the first novel in Project Hush-Hush, which means I can say very little about it as I am contractually obligated to keep all details to my self.
Q2 How does my work differ from others in my genre?
Genre is neither here nor there; at least not for me. I do not write to one specific genre. Every piece of fiction I write blends different genre in the hope of creating something a bit more original. Even my Space: 1889 & Beyond work is not really steampunk. There’s elements of horror, of issue-based drama, all sorts. I guess that’s how my work differs; I don’t stick to one genre, I write what I enjoy reading, I write about people. No matter what kind of story I’m writing, it’s always about the people. And that includes Project Hush-Hush.
Q3 Why do I write what I do?
Because it’s honestly what’s in me to do. I don’t do it for fame or fortune (which is just as well, as writing is not the best way to make a living), I do it because it’s what I love to do. I love to develop stories, to make commentary on the world I see evolving around me. I love to explore the nature of our lives, to explore what makes people tick.
Q4 How does my writing process work?
I usually say I don’t have a process, but as time goes by I’m realising I actually do. Taking The Forgotten Son as an example, I start off with a core idea. A concept that interests me. I look at similar books and stories from other authors, other TV shows, to see what’s going on out there, and wonder in what ways I can do it different. Then I start looking at the characters I’ll be needing. In my most recent works the characters are pretty much chosen for me, since I tend to work with series a lot, and so as such I’m often in the position of already having established characters to write for. Fortunately, these characters tend to be creations of mine anyway, since it is I who devised and edit the series’ in question. Project Hush-Hush is different, as I’m given a set of characters that I did not create, but in this case they are characters I know very well and so am looking at ways I can develop them, add to them, make them fresh and new. Once I know the basic cast, I start to research. In most cases it’s period-specific things, since I do seem to write a lot of period dramas — be it the early 1890s or the late 1960s. It is important to get the small details right, to be able to paint a broadstroke picture, so that the work feels like it belongs to the period in which it is set. Such research is ongoing, and continues throughout the entire writing process, as along the way I will continue to come across things that I need to research. Be it something like the British Army ranking system or the orbital pattern of the moon.
The writing itself is, for me, the easiest part. Once I get into the book (which will take me anything up to a week), I find myself wanting to know what’s happening next and so I am inclined to focus more and more on the book, often to the exclusion of social interaction. I tend to edit as I go along too; I will re-read anything I wrote in the previous sitting (be it all of the previous day’s work, or simply the work written only a few hours before), and while re-reading I will edit and tighten up, thus by the end of the first draft I’m really up to second draft status.
Once I’m relatively happy with it, or am aware of an approaching deadline (one of the best incentives for cracking on with the work), I will send it on to my editor. Which is the most fun and daunting as you just never quite know what feedback you’re going to get.
Nice of you to ask. My latest piece of work is a co-authored novel called Horizons of Deceit Book II which is, as the title suggests, part two of a story. It opens up the third season of Space: 1889 & Beyond and was co-written with Jonathan Cooper (who wrote book one). It’s available from all good e-book sellers, although I think you should all go and buy it direct from the publisher, Untreed Reads Publishing.
As for what’s coming next, well it’ll be The Forgotten Son. Again I can’t say much about it at all really, as the series will not be officially announced until December sometime. However, due to the nature of the project, I think I shall be posting a lot about the process and development of this book (and by extension the entire project) over the coming months, so check back for further updates and, if you’re lucky, subtle hints. :)