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My Writing Process Blog Hop

I was tagged by Pete Sutton – - for the My Writing Process Blog Hop.

What am I working on?

I’m currently nearing completion of the first draft – or as what a screenwriting friend of mine calls, draft zero – of the third and final book in The Emperor Initiative series; Tiberius Crowned. The three books follow the story of 16-year-old Daniel Henstock – given the codename Tiberius – who discovers that he’s been genetically engineered and the people responsible want him back to finish the job.

The events in Tiberius Crowned have the hierarchy behind the Emperor Initiative strike at Daniel through his American girlfriend. Her abduction steels his determination to end the Initiative once and for all, no matter what the personal cost.

Another thing I’ve started is the pre-development for an adult thriller set in 1917, set around the cordite factory in Dorset. A chance viewing of a local BBC report set a bell ringing and the idea for a Wartime thriller came to the fore. The annoying thing is that the prospect of working out the main- and various sub-plots of this period piece are exciting me to the extent that I have to remind myself to concentrate on finishing Tiberius Crowned first.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

There’s a saying in screenwriting circles that producers/directors want “the same, but different” and I hope that’s what I deliver with my work. My three Emperor Initiative novels follow a pattern where it’s clear what the central character wants, who’s trying to stop him from achieving that and what the consequences are if he fails to attain his goals. The Emperor Initiative falls within the young adult bracket that has, in recent years, been dominated by sparkly vampires or buff werewolves – neither of which, I’m happy to say, feature in my books. Mine are designed as adventures in the classic sense.

I’ve been inspired by Anthony Horowitz and Charlie Higson, and hope that my work is in a similar vein but with my own ‘voice’.

Why do I write what I write?

I would assume, like most authors, I write the kind of stories I like to read – adventures and thrillers. Growing up I devoured adventure stories and it was always me in the central role; stories in which the adults didn’t solve the problem, discover where the treasure was buried or who the murderer was. It had to be the kid(s) who brought the story to resolution. In The Emperor Initiative it’s definitely Daniel who drives the story forward and that’s just as it should be.

I’m going off piste with my next book – the 1917 thriller – as it’s going to be an out-and-out adult thriller, and maybe the start of a new series with the protagonist as a recurring character. I’m also finalising the edit of a 1926-set young adult supernatural adventure that features the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, which should be published mid-late summer this year. Again, it’s the first in a series. See a pattern here?

How does your writing process work?

Many years ago I used to write in the Stephen King style – although I didn’t know it at the time – and just write; no planning, no plotting. What I found was that, after the initial flurry of excitement had worn off, I had no idea of what was going on or where the characters were going. The up-shot was that I got bored, frustrated and annoyed, and it was clearly demonstrated in the writing. To think of all those poor trees that died so I could screw up a piece of paper and toss it in the bin. Usually accompanied by a fair amount of swearing.

I adopted the planning/plotting method in 2008 when I suddenly realised that it’s something that was allowed. I look at it as stepping-stones that help guide me from starting point to finish. It doesn’t mean the plan/plot is carved in stone – if I think of something better during the writing stage then the old bit gets ditched and the new bit takes its place.

I use excel to block out stages, record character details and all other notes or ideas that I need, and then drill down in deeper detail until I have a structure that I’m happy with. Sometimes, after I’ve finished the planning stage, the writing is actually quite easy. Sometimes it’s a pain. The important thing I’ve learned is to just write; get the words down and then worry about the edit. “Give yourself permission to write a cr*p first draft,” a writing friend of mine told me last year. Sound advice, as we can’t edit a blank page.

The difficulty comes with knowing when to stop editing. Knowing at what point the story can’t be improved is something I’m coming to terms with. We’re all nervous with putting our work ‘out there’ but it needs to be done, and I think this element is just as important as any other otherwise we’d spend years editing page one and never get anything finished.

It’s a bit of a cliché but I let my characters determine where the story goes. I put them in a starting position and think “what would they do next?” and work through the story like that. And it’s not just the protagonist that I let do this; every character has his/her own motives and desires and I try to let them all do what they want rather than what I (as the author) want them to do to make it easier for me. Sometimes this causes me problems and I’ve spent I-don’t-know-how-many hours growling over how to write my way through what the characters have got me in to. Damn them.

And the last part of the blog tour is where I nominate new authors to continue the blog hop. Pete called the five he nominated “victims for the beast”, mine, I hope, will be willing ‘volunteers’. I’ve chosen to tag:

Anya Lipska @AnyaLipska – London-based crime writer whose latest novel is Where the Devil Can’t Go –

Dave Sivers @DaveSivers - author of the Lowmar Dashiel crime fantasy novels –

Tony Bradman @tbradman - author of children’s adventure novels whose latest book is Viking Boy –

Matt Wayne Bhanks @MattWayne8 – a Canadian author/illustrator of the Master Defender SF&F series –

Lloyd Baron - @Lloyd_Baron – author of The Prophecy of Ages Saga –

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