It's official (and slightly mad) this moths Words From a Bench project is live in both Rowntree Park and Reykjavik, Iceland. The project is a avenue for new and emerging writers to get their short stories and poetry into the heart of the cities. I have now been published by the great folks who run the Rowntree's project (Cath Mortimer, blogger and Karen Green, editor) four times and am ecstatic that my writing will now be extending to Iceland. Lets hope for a spike in international book sales!?! :p
You can find out more about the project at my project page and from the pages linked above. Please go take a look at the writing. I am joined by some amazing authors, including:
I've been invited, by fellow writer Adam M Booth, to take part in the 'my writing process blog tour'. This is a great little project where writers nominate each other to respond to four question about their current projects and process. It's a great way for readers and writers to get into the mind of their favourite novelists, glean some tips on the writing process and find out what people are currently writing.
So firstly, huge thanks to Adam for inviting me. Go check out his answers from last week and while your there take a look at his novella 'The End'. It's an incredibly gripping and dark zombie horror, written from the zombie's perspective. And its only 77p for kindle. You'd be stupid not to grab it. (Link right).
Next week you'll be able to read the responses from Adrian P Fayter, Phil Lickley and N.E.David - So make sure you take a look at there posts next week. Who knows you might just find the big seller of the future, your favourite book of the year or grab a tip that helps you complete your next masterpiece - More on them at the end of my blog.
So here goes...
What Are You Currently Working On?
At the moment I am working on my second novel. Unlike Life Without the title is giving me hell and is not surfacing at the moment, so for now I'll refer to it as Death of the Artist (this may change).
It's a story about a young girl, Tillie, who is trying to find the studio of her artistic hero, David Lanzer. David is a successful, but haunted artist. All his works are part of larger series and he is entrenched in his art and his process. (I'm finding this oddly relevant to the interview!? He's not me honest!? :p). Early in the story Tillie finds David's studio and decides to break in, moments later David walks through the door. Now flung together these two obsessive personalities go on a brief, relationship forging, journey. I won't say too much more but it certainly doesn't have Life Without's happy ending.
I have also sent off a flurry of short stories to a number of different places recently. One that I am really hoping will pay off is a new entry to the Rowntree's Park, Words From a Bench project. I've been published by the project twice now and this round the successful pieces will go live in a a park in Iceland as well as in York. Very cool! You can read my November and February entries at the wordpress site.
How Does Your Work Differ From Others Of Its Genre?
I always try to put a little twist on the stories I write to make them individual. Life Without was slightly different to other in the romance genre because it was written from a male perspective. I get a lot of comments about this balance, which readers seem to really notice. I didn't really aim to carry a message through the book but I suppose it balances a genre where males are usually strong characters and females are portrayed as being damaged in some way and world apart from other characters.
Death of the Artist (as I'll call it for now) is actually a totally different genre. It is effectively a thriller but it masquerades as a romance for a majority of the story. I think this is what will make it unique when it's finished and (hopefully) make it an interesting and original piece.
Why Do You Write What You Do?
I write a lot of different thing; different genres and also different formats. I started as a scriptwriter and still enjoy writing for screen, stage and radio, as well as writing short stories and novels. I also write songs, though that's more of a hobby. I have always said that I love storytelling; I find it fascinating that people construct their world through narratives. We tell each other jokes, put a spin on our experience of the day and more and more we constantly convert our lives into stories. New media has a big influence on this and so many of us now create stories through blogs, Facebook posts, tweets, Snapchat pictures, YouTube videos, the list goes on. I write what I do because I have an internal drive to share stories and I feel very privileged when someone takes time away from their lives to immerse themselves in something I have written. It sounds very cliche, but it really is just part of who I am.
How Does Your Writing Process Work?
I am all about structure and research. I don't think any story can just come about. Stories should be understood; characters have to be thought through and everything written should be pushing towards the goal that is the end of the story. It's a bit like a joke; you might embellish it to bring it to life but every word is forging towards that punch line. Stories for me should have that same sense of direction.
When I'm writing I'll firstly try and put my idea into a couple of paragraphs. What I'm trying to do at that point is work out a rough map for the beginning, middle and end of my story. I think it's really important to do this because those steps of a story are ingrained in us as a culture and it's amazing how many new writers get it wrong. So I write a paragraph or two, which aim to introduce the characters. Not just say 'this is David' but to tell us who David is. Is he a brat, a rich but lonely entrepreneur, a salesman who is rubbish at his job. Then that paragraph needs to tell me what they want, what is going to get in the way and what ending I am coming to. With that rough shape in mind I then start to flesh out the characters more. Who they are as a whole; what are their quirks; where do they live; where have they come from? I sometimes do little exercises to get these characters concrete in my mind, like writing down their hopes, fears, relationship with others or reading a newspaper article and trying to workout how they would react to what's been written. Finally, before writing, I'll try to write a scene by scene breakdown of the story.
I only generally start writing when I have all of this together and feel like I know the characters and the general journey of the story. Sometimes, if an idea is really fresh in my mind, I might just write. With Life Without it all just seemed to come, so I wrote the first five chapters and then I went back to the planning stages. Those five chapters actually became chapter 1,5,6,9 and 12 once I'd really thought it through.
My current book, Death of the Artist, all hinges round the idea of obsession, so I've done a lot of psychological research. I read some of Freud's case studies and I tried to identify elements of a obsessive personality. I've then built this into my characters. For example, David has a whole back story about his upbringing that is purely designed to help me write him and understand what he would do in certain scenarios. I have no intention of putting the back-story in the finished book.
Writing in this very structured way isn't for everyone but it really helps me write solid characters, which I'm often complimented for. It also helps me start and finish a book, which is a big challenge. A lot of potential writers out there have a great idea but never finish it. To them I say plan it out, stick to your plan and you'll get there. Once you've got a finished article you can play. Take bits out, add now things in, shift things around. I suppose I find the editing process a lot more fun and creative than the original writing process. Making a start on a blank page is a challenge for everyone.
So there you are. That is my writing process blog tour. Please feel free to comment and ask any questions. Its great to talk about process with fellow writers, no matter how long they've been doing it or what level they are at. I love to get involved so give me a shout.
Next Monday: Adrian P Fayter, Phil Lickley and N.E.David will take their turn. Take a look.
Adrian P Fayter, author of the Larry Di Palma series of crime novels. If you think crime books can't have a sense of humour, prepare to be proved very wrong!
Phil Lickley, is a 28 year old manager at a Students' Union with a passion for music. Phil enjoy all sorts of writing but mainly writes reviews on musicians/music, gigs and theatre productions. He hopes to finish off a novel and some short stories, one day!
N.E.David, is the pen name of York author Nick David. Nick tried his hand at writing at the age of 21 but like so many things in life, it did not work out first time around. Following the death of his father in 2005, he took it up again and has been successful in having a series of short novellas published both in print and online. Besides being a regular contributor to Literary Festivals and open mics in the North East Region, Nick is also a founder member of York Authors and co-presenter of Book Talk on BBC Radio York.
His debut novel, Birds of the Nile, is published by Roundfire.
The most recent news is that there was a new submission task set in late December, which asked for writing with the theme of 'the dead of winter'. This week all those pieces have gone live in the park and I am really happy to say that I have been included again. My piece, Footsteps In The Snow, is available to read online as well as in the park. If you can get to the park please go and hunt for it (its half the fun) but if not you can find all the writing from many talented artists at the Rowntrees Park Wordpress site.
Again huge thanks to Cath and Karen and I hope you'll go check it out.
Hey folks. So, this weekend I am doing a free promotion of my novel Life Without. If you are yet to give it a read, please go grab a FREE e-copy from Amazon.
Why am I doing this? Well partly to get a few more readers for 'Life Without,' to add to the 4000 people who have currently downloaded the book, and secondly to raise my profile a little bit before my next book.
The new book is a little way off yet. I'm well past planning and am currently about 10 chapters into the writing, but it's always good to build the hype. So go grab a copy of Life Without and I can promise you equally interesting characters, a more gripping plot and a not so happy ending from the next book. :]
It's been a while since I actually posted any writing up here, so here's a flash fiction piece - I hope you enjoy!
IF ONLY YOU KNEW
‘I’ve got three friends now’ he tells me. ‘But I’ll only have two next week because Charlie is on Holiday.’
I laugh and he smiles. One day he will be distraught when I laugh at him, but for now we are free with
‘Oh really, well done! And where is Charlie going?’
‘In a car.’
‘Right. That will be fun!’
‘And I fell over in the playground and Mrs Frost helped me.’
I get the blank look; he’s forgotten the tears already. All he remembers is that the teacher helped him
and it seemed important and I'm glad he's told me, because it is.
‘And what else did you do at big school?’
‘We played and we had to put our coats on and my wellies are too small!’
Judging my parenting already! What a fine teenager you’ll be!
‘I know love, we’ll sort that at the weekend.’
In years to come I will notice that the reports of the school day never feature what he learnt. I’ll be
content to hear about his friends and what he had for lunch; I’ll let it slide, but his Father won’t.
‘Mum?’ he says, with concern too big for his tiny face. ‘Can I go back tomorrow?’
‘Of course you can, love.’ I say.
If only you knew, I think.
Ben Warden - Editor of the #SFFiction project and author of 'Life Without', which made the top ten literary fiction e-books on amazon.