‘There’s no such thing as can’t.’
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Tell me about your book.
Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher, must solve the theft of the Emperor’s roses before love is lost, forever.
My latest novel is called The Rose Thief, a humorous fantasy novel inspired in part by my love of Pratchett’s Discworld novels. The official blurb – Ned Spinks, Chief Thief-Catcher has a problem. Someone is stealing the Emperor’s roses. But that’s not the worst of it. In his infinite wisdom and grace, the Emperor magically imbued his red rose with love so if it was ever removed from the Imperial Rose Gardens then love will be lost, to everyone, forever. It’s up to Ned and his band of motley catchers to apprehend the thief and save the day. But the thief isn’t exactly who they seem to be, neither is the Emperor. Ned and his team will have to go on a quest defeating vampire mermaids, illusionists, estranged family members and an evil sorcerer in order to win the day. What could possibly go wrong?
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Hahaha! At least seven – I’ve got a couple of epic fantasy sagas that I’m too scared to get stuck into because of the world building, you need lots of time for that, I have none. I’ve got a techno-western which is vying for attention with a book about my book club for next-up status. A top secret idea that I can’t possibly share anything about yet plus a twist on a classic children’s story. There’s also a sci-fi fight for survival robotics germ of an idea.
It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?
I agree. If you don’t have the funds or time to attend specialist creative writing courses or workshops – some of which aren’t worth the effort unfortunately – then the only other way to hone your craft is to read what other people are doing. We all have an opinion on what we like to read and what we don’t like reading. The trick is to start thinking about how the good stuff works, what does the author do, what is it exactly that you enjoyed so much. It might seem like you’re taking the joy out of reading but really you should review everything you read anyway so your brain is already taking notes. .
Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?
I’m a pantser. For me, writing is an incredibly creative process. I sit down in front of a blank piece of paper or a blank word document and I just let my pen/fingers start. I prefer to type straight away although I’ll often jot ideas down on random pieces of paper. It helps that I can touch type and have a pretty fast typing speed, usually I can keep up with the inner voices in my head. And not having to look at the keys makes it feel more organic in some way. I never really know what’s going to happen in my books, I just let the characters do the talking. Obviously that leads to massive plot holes, me forgetting the name of characters and getting into a pickle with continuity but then that’s what editing is all about. Before I sit down to write I’ve often been thinking about the project for a while in my head, coming up with ideas, discounting things I don’t think will work. I won’t sit down to write until my subconscious has finished doing that. I know many well respected writers adopt a butt in chair philosophy of writing no matter what but sometimes I just don’t feel inspired so there’s just no point. When I am working on a project I have a minimum of 1000 words a day target so I can try and keep momentum but I never go back and read what I’ve written the day(s) previously. That’s for editing. The very thought of trying to write a plan brings me out in a cold sweat.
Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.
Does eating count? I love to cook and bake and I also cross-stitch, or at least I used to before every spare moment of my life was taken up with indie author marketing and self promotion. Apparently there’s a balance out there, maybe one day I’ll find it – you never know!
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m taking part in NaNoWriMo17 in an effort to begin the sequel to my dystopian novel, The Gaia Effect. I’m also due to give birth on 26th November so I figured that if I at least made a start on the sequel manuscript I’d have something to pick up and carry on at the appropriate moment. So far, so good – I mean, we are only on day two but it’s going well. I have a few ideas of where I’d like to take the story, the only problem is they teeter round the edge of cliched predictability so I need to keep it fresh. Many readers expressed their surprise at the hopeful style to The Gaia Effect so if I can keep that element of surprise and freshness I’ll be happy.
What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?
Hmm, well, sadly it does happen. With no regulation on who can publish what you will always have books of higher and lower quality. That’s the risk a reader takes when they pick up an indie author book. That being said, I’ve read well known author books released by established publishing houses that have been littered with errors, especially in the ebook format. The advantage of the addition of indie books to the reader market is that the scope of what’s available is vast. There really is something for everyone. So in my opinion, if you don’t like a style or story or even the formatting of a book then move on – there are plenty more fish in the sea.
What is your favourite genre to write, and why?
My favourite genre to read is fantasy and science-fiction so that tends to be the topics I’m drawn to when I sit down to write. I have tried to write real-life fiction but I’m never quite satisfied that it feels ‘real’ enough. That being said, it has been commented that my natural writing style is quite amusing so perhaps I’ll crack the comedy market one day.
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?
I do like to listen to music, mostly classical or film soundtracks. I find they can be very inspiring and also motivating because you might as well write to the end of the album, right? Current favourites are the Twilight, The Hobbit and LOTR soundtracks as well as Amazon Prime’s classical mix to read to – I do like a pre-made compilation.
Tell me three unique things about you.
1) I have my grade 1 and 2 roller skating qualifications.
2) I find watching the Good Food & The Food Network channel very relaxing.
3) I can read several different books at the same time.
Claire, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!