This is something that’s been doing the rounds, and I’ve been nominated to take part by the excellent Liz Williams, following on from the equally excellent Claire Weaver. Be sure to link back to their posts and then return here to witness how bizarrely random I am when it comes to writing.
1. What am I working on?
Queen Of Clouds, a loose prequel to my recently published first novel, The Moon King. Where The Moon King has the feel of a future fable, Queen Of Clouds is more of a science fiction parable which sets up the creation of the world of The Moon King: explaining why the world became flooded and suggesting a rationale for how a society might transition from feeling like you live in a science fiction world to living in a fantastical one.
At any rate, it has wooden people and sentient weather and a crow made from leather. And it’s (probably (yes, really this time)) nearly finished.
2. How does my work differ from others in my genre?
That depends on what genre we’re talking about here. The Moon King and Queen Of Clouds both exhibit elements of science fiction, fantasy and contemporary Scotland. I’m not sure I could put a genre on them. Which probably answers the question. Readers will naturally make comparisons but I hope that my novels are not really like much else that’s out there.
The Moon King, for instance, has both fantastical and thriller elements but it has none of the furniture of generic fantasy (mediaevalism, magic, etc). Queen Of Clouds has sort-of robots and weather engineering, but it’s not really what you’d point at and say: “that’s science fiction”.
Thankfully some of the reviews have picked the genre-looseness of The Moon King as a positive aspect, so hopefully I’m not treading on too many toes.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Because the things I write about are subjects that engage me.
Because I get to let my imagination off the lead for a wild caper around the park.
Because there’s little point in creating something that’s been done before.
Because these are the best ways to tell the stories I want to tell.
Because it’s fun.
4. How does my writing process work?
Part 1/ Mechanics
I have a routine. Weekdays, an hour before work and an hour at lunchtime. Weekends 2-4 hours Saturday and Sunday. If I don’t stick to my routine nothing gets done.
Part 2/ Doing it
Writers claim to be either outliners of seat-of-pantsers when it comes to writing. I’m most comfortable doing a bit of both. I won’t start a story until I’ve a good idea where it’s going and what structure it will take on, but I don’t plan it to death. After I’ve got the bones in place, I explore the story through the prose. Often this means I get to a point where I have to reassess or replan, but that’s okay. Occasionally, a story pops out perfect first draft, but there are plenty that sit there being “not quite right” until I discover what’s missing. Sometimes that takes a while, but I don’t fret about it; it’s just the way I work and sooner or later things work out.
The novels, so far, have been similar – though with quite a lot more planning, and replanning, and replanning – and consequently have taken a lot longer. This is where the process needs to be improved, and I’m working on that, but for short stories, I’m pretty happy to let them germinate semi-naturally.
Nominated next on the blog tour: Jacey Bedford, author of the forthcoming Empire Of Dust, Libby McGugan, author of the absolutely unique The Eidolon, and journalist, photographer and autor, Ruth EJ Booth. Check their blogs over the next weeks or so to see how much more sensibly and eruditely they approach their fiction work.