In this post I'm going to tell you a little about my writing process and what I'm currently working on. I was tagged by the fabulous Larry Benjamin, author of What Binds Us, Damaged Angels and Unbroken (shortlisted for this year's Lambda Literary Awards).
You can read Larry's blog post here: http://authorlarrybenjamin.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/my-writing-process-blog-hop.html
Larry's website is here: http://www.larrybenjamin.com
What am I working on?I've just finished editing the second edition of my first novel, Champagne, and after a very drawn-out discussion with a reader last week about how much the story affected him, I'm thinking about writing a "sequel" that would bring resolution. I deliberately wrote the ending the way I did, and have puzzled for 10 years over whether there was more story to be told. Anyway, that's a discussion for another post.
I'm also at the 'step away' stage of my latest story, which is part of the Love's Landscapes anthology being published by the MM Romance Group on Goodreads (mmromancegroup.com) from June 2014 onwards. It starts with a prompt from a group member in the form of a "Dear Author" letter and accompanying photo.
Mine was of two guys meeting in the checkout queue, where one attempts to queue-jump, much to the chagrin of the other. It's been an amazing challenge for me, as I've written in first-person narrative, which I've never done before, and I had a remit to work to that set out some interesting stipulations. Great fun!
How does my work differ from others of the genre?I'm one of those genre-crossers, so I don't fit anywhere, which is frustrating, as my Hiding Behind The Couch series as a whole only really fits in contemporary fiction and that's a HUGE, subsuming category to get buried in, but then each instalment also fits into other genres, such as romance (in all its forms), murder mystery, and even children's books.
What I write is character-based, character-driven fiction, focusing more on the psyche of the characters than their physical attributes, which means I switch perspectives within the narrative, and adjust narrative style accordingly. I try to write about people who are real, with flaws, insecurities, battling to keep their mental health - all the stuff we all experience all the time. It means that I can't really tell you what they look like, but i can tell you exactly how they think and feel at any given moment!
People tell me I also tend to suck my readers into the worlds of my stories. The characters become very real to them, which is pretty awesome!
How does my writing process work?The characters make me do it!
I don't plan, but I may well have an ending in mind and certain events that I want to play out, so at the same time as writing the first draft, I'm thinking ahead of how I can get to a certain point in the plot, but if the characters veer off and take me on a different route, I'm happy to go with it.
For instance, No Time Like The Present starts with a murder, and I had no idea how it would conclude until I was halfway through the first draft. Also in that book, a new character called Sean Tierney suddenly appeared from nowhere! I really hadn't intended that, as I knew there were too many characters in book one, so I should have been trying to downsize. But anyway Sean got to stay around and plays a very prominent part in the subsequent instalments.
Having said that, writing this way can be a little precarious. I was writing a scene involving a cat a while back and had in mind that the cat would survive the story, but there was always the possibly it might suddenly run off and meet an untimely demise.
Why do I write what I do?Honestly, I don't know. I was sitting outside a pub with Stuart Ayris (author tagged below) a while back, and he said he felt it was as if the stories were already written, and it was just a case of remembering them, which I can definitely go with.
Insane as it may sound, the Hiding Behind The Couch stuff almost feels like I'm being fed the story from somewhere else. The only way I can explain is to imagine that at some point their universe and ours intersected, creating a link between Josh Sandison and me. All I am doing is writing about the lives of Josh and his friends - maybe he's doing the same about me on his side of the incursion? I find myself writing about them for hour upon hour, day after day, and then suddenly run out of stuff to write about for a while, like I've caught up. I don't know.
Ultimately I write because I have to. It's the vent that stops me exploding. I've recently read a few articles about people surviving on desert islands - imagining myself trying to survive the experience my immediate thought is "How will I cope without being able to write?" I can see it now: Water? Check! Primitive spear for catching fish? Check! Crushed berry ink and dried leaf paper? Check... And the headline after my rescue: Woman washed up on desert island for eight years fills it will billions of words...
Next week, check out:David E. Manuel (Richard Paladin series, Sudden Addiction and more in the pipeline)
Stuart Ayris (Frugality Trilogy, The Buddhas of Borneo and an amazing work in progress I'm sure he'll tell you about himself)
stuartayris.co.uk / stuartayrisblog.org