Monday 20 January 2014

My Writing Process

Today I'm taking part in the #MyWritingProcess blog tour. This is where you follow a thread across the blogs of lots of different writers, who all answer the same questions about their writing ....

My host is author Kathleen Jones, who writes both fiction and biographies. I can particularly recommend her novel The Sun's Companion, which I read and reviewed over at Eclectic Electric.

So, on with the questions...

1) What am I working on? 

Currently, I'm writing what I think will be a novella, called Rat's Tale. This is a spin-off from my dark crime thriller series - there are 3 books and while each is its own separate story, they do follow on from each other chronologically and the main character's story comes to an end in the third book, with everything resolved and all the loose ends neatly tied up. Except there was one minor character who was still talking to me, whose story hadn't quite finished, and over the past few weeks he's started telling me what happened next. And I listened and had to start writing it down. So Rat's Tale is his story. I don't think it will be a novel - I don't think there's enough material - but I'm hoping to put a bit of meat on the bones and get a novella out of it.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

That's a tough one. I guess I maybe fall between crime and thriller territory - though hopefully not into the cracks! Crime is often police procedural, or at least told from the perspective of somebody whose work is connected with law enforcement in some way (coroners, forensics, private detective, law etc). Thrillers are often bigger scale - with the fate of the entire world resting on the actions of one person. Eco-thrillers, medical thrillers, techno-thrillers.

I write on a smaller scale. I don't write who-dunnits or even why-dunnits, but more will-they-survive-its. Although I have police characters, they're not major characters and I'm not interested in how they solve crimes (I get enough of that in the day job, thanks). I'm far more interested in the psychology - how crime affects the victim, how they move on with their life. And of course, for those who know my work, the pervading thread through all my books explores the differences between good and evil and how the bad guys can sometimes be better than the good guys when you look at things in a different way...

3) Why do I write what I do? 

Because the voices tell me to. 

Seriously, it's true. There are people living in my head and the only way I can get them out is to tell their story. I suspect the reason they chose my head in the first place is because I have a background in law enforcement. There are things I can't tell, experiences I can't repeat, but I can capture their essence in fiction. And having done drugs from a law enforcement angle, I wanted to have a look at the other side.

4) How does my writing process work?

Badly. I so admire those writers who plan their novels, who write out chapter headings and list scenes and plot points - who know where they are going and how to get there safely. 

I'm a pantser, completely, utterly and probably irretrievably. I get an idea - a snatch of conversation, a character or sometimes a real person I've seen on the street and I pick at it and see where it takes me. Suddenly, the smooth shiny nugget of idea will crack and I'll dig a fingernail in, split it open and run with it. I write when I'm passionate, when my fingers can't keep up with my brain, when I'm living and breathing it during my entire waking life. I have no clue where it takes me - I find out the plot as I go along. I experience the same highs and lows as and when my characters do. It's hell to write but the ride is amazing! 

And now I pass the baton on to Jan Edwards who will be answering the same 4 questions on 27th January. I've known Jan for over 20 years, since we met at a writers' conference in the early 1990s and discovered we'd both got lumped in with all the other people who wrote "weird stuff". Clearly it was true, because we hit it off and have been close friends ever since. Jan's a writer of fantasy and horror with lots of credits to her name. She also edits anthologies for The Alchemy Press.

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