Fiona Pearse invited me to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. As I have both enjoyed reading several of the previous participants and heartily recommend Fiona’s first book, Orla’s Code, I had no qualms about accepting. Read on for some insight into my writing processes and three more authors who are worth checking out.
What am I working on?
I finished the first content rewrite of my vampire novel, Midnight Shakes the Memory, last Thursday. So I am currently fixing the spelling, grammar, and typesetting before sending it out for some beta-reading.
For the last couple of years I have kept two projects running side-by-side, allowing me to swap if I really become bogged down or want a break from checking for rogue commas. So I am also outlining Keeping Promises, the first book in a fantasy series.
When I am not doing those, my time goes on Greenstar, my science fiction collaboration with Simon Cantan. We have just released the first three episodes to beta-readers and have some good ideas for the next three.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am not strongly bound by genre when reading or writing: based just on the books listed on Goodreads I read over 260 (and there were other books not listed). So I tend to write ideas first and genre second.
The protagonist of Midnight Memory is a (mostly) happily married man in his late thirties, with a teenage daughter and a low-paying job. So – while the vampires can be charismatic, looming, sexy, and other staples of traditional horror or urban fantasy – there is very little dramatically swooning while wearing alluring lingerie, and more struggling with balancing an ordinary life with new issues.
Why do I write what I do?
As frequent readers of my blog will already know, I like to think (or over-think depending on your perspective) about everything I encounter. I write to exorcise and explore some of the more enduring and unusual thoughts.
For example, one of the seeds of Midnight Memory was a random realisation that of the many vampire books I have read, almost all of them have single protagonists with unusual lives or a desire to change; whereas if I became a vampire, I would have a completely different issue with maintaining my already pleasant married existence. So I went one further, and created a protagonist who was not only married but had a child.
How does my writing process work?
I begin each work by sacrificing a hand-written description of a character to He Who Shall Not Be Named.
With the Old Gods appeased, I create a single sentence description of the idea (e.g. A failed writer-come-coffee-stall-owner is drawn into a moral battle when he discovers his new muse is a vampire.)
In parallel with this I create a few characters: protagonist, main antagonist, couple of other characters. So for Midnight Memory I created my coffee-stall-owner, his family, and two vampires with different outlooks on life.
Once I have the sentence and a few characters, I work out the ending so I have something to aim for, then start filling in key events to create an overall plot. Sometimes events I added previously – or even the ending – change radically when I find out they don’t fit together; other times it all comes out.
Then I start writing scenes.
When I finish a first draft, I put it away for at least a month, to give me some perspective, then re-read it end to end.
I fix all the inevitable plot niggles, confusions, and clunky words.
And then I do it all again.
I believe different processes suit different authors and different works, so I like to tinker between projects: for Midnight Memory, I wrote only the high level events and some rough notes on few sub-plots before diving into writing; for Keeping Promises I am trying a much more detailed outline with several sentences for each scene.
Hopefully your sanity is now piqued but not shattered.
I pass the accursed totem to:
An avid reader from an early age, Simon Cantan loved to get lost in the worlds that Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, and others created. When he read Harry Harrison’s The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted at the age of thirteen, he knew he wanted to write, and has been pestering people about it ever since.
Two decades later, Simon has published several books, including the Bytarend series, Shiny New Swindle, and Hard Vacuum. He continues to write science-fiction and fantasy, usually with a humorous slant to it.
More details about Simon and his books can be found at http://SimonCantan.com.
Amanda has been writing stories since she was six, although her first novel, later dubbed The Abomination, now exists only as fodder for her self-deprecating articles about bad novel-writing.
When not studying for a B.F.A. in Writing and working as a copy editor at SCAD District, she works at a movie theater.
She is currently writing her considerably less abominable novel, The Thieves of Traska.
More details on Amanda and the humorous tribulations of her life can be found at http://ajswitz.com.
Age: Born in August of 1985. I leave the math as an exercise for the reader.
Height: Super tall.
Like how tall: Like, 6’5″. Or 1.96 meters for you SI-ficionados out there.
What’s all this then: By day, I’m a computer programmer. By night, I’m working on an artificial intelligence. I write novels, stories, and poems (mostly unpublished so far). I can juggle, I have a black belt in karate, and I’ve jumped out of an airplane. I’m into philosophy, Babylon 5, and the Spanish language. I’ve been to London, Edinburgh, Dublin, Tokyo, Paris, Manila, and Juneau. I have personally seen the largest living thing in the world. I read xkcd, SMBC, and Singularity Hub.
Oh yeah, and I blog at http://briandbuckley.com.