A Writing Process Blog Tour

Around this time two years ago, I was nominated for a blog tour without my knowing. I can trust my co-writer and editor, Andy Frankham Allen to not tell me. I guess he counted on me reading his blog…and it appears he was right. This was my entry, which I reproduce here with updated footnotes. Two years. This was TWO YEARS ago. How the time has flown.

Q1 What are you currently working on?

Not as easy to answer as it should be. I’ve recently finished one lot of edits for a steampunk work and had decided to write a third in a published series of romance titles only to realise a need to edit books one and two as I reread them. That turned into a whole exercise of shock mixed with the delight of seeing how well I’ve improved in five or six short years. And while I was doing that edits for another book arrived. I’ve just returned the first round but don’t expect it will be long before the second arrives (there’s usually two before line edits etc), so I’m sort of jumping about at present. Interruptions and having to hop between works is one thing I never accounted for.

UPDATE: The romances I mention I’m only now finishing up. Personal problems and a necessary move cause a good deal of interruption. Book one has this week been contracted and the trilogy will be on the way.

Q2 How does my work differ from others in my genre?

A genre is a bit of a painful topic for me. I’ve been calling myself a multi-genre writer, but I’ve come to realise that’s not an easy achievement. Readers will seldom follow a writer through multiple genres — a fact that had never occurred to me. Yes, I know, naive, but then I’m a reader who will stick with writers I love no matter what they do. I’ll at least give all their works a try and I read so widely it seems strange to think there are people who read a single genre. I cannot imagine life without reading at least two or three different types of stories. I always say I write as I read meaning anything and everything. While this is true, branding is everything these days so lately I’ve been giving serious consideration to what I do.

I hit on the romance/erotic romance market mostly by accident rather than intent and I tend to call this side of my writing ‘non-traditional’ romance in that I’ve written a large portion of gay or ‘m/m’ titles, also menage, and those in themselves have ranged from contemporary, comedy, horror, science fiction, and fantasy. I want to have a serious try at writing a hetero romance, but I’m sure it will have a paranormal setting so I say ‘non-traditional’ to explain that I write a range of pairings and sub-genres.

Of my non-romance work…again, it varies, but I’ve come to realise that many of my stories seem to contain a dark thread. I’ve a short story Bitter and Intoxicating in the anthology Red Velvet and Absinthe (edited by Mitzi Szereto, foreword by Kelley Armstrong) that is a perfect example of this. It’s erotic gothic romance with more than a touch of horror. My one and only short story available at Untreed Reads called The Texture of Winter is impossible to describe. It’s about loss and pain and the end of life, and yet I feel the tale has a bittersweet quality. Both stories are unusual and yet both contain a dark thread. I kind of pride myself in being able to write almost any genre, but I’m currently trying to pin down what I mostly want to focus on, so I recently re-branded my site and myself as a ‘writer of dark and light fiction’, which at least seems to cover all possibilities. When I get a little ‘breathing space’ I plan to try to write a novel with that dark side in mind, just think ‘outside the box’ to see where it takes me.

UPDATE: I subsequently divided my romance and darker work and have a pen-name for what I now call Dark Fiction.

Q3 Why do I write what I do?

An innate love of books, of stories, of story-telling. Books have been companions throughout my life. They seldom let me down. They’re a way to explore life, to live and experience other lives, to be someone you are not. They’re time machines both into the past and the future. Stories are for enjoyment and exploration. They can teach or simply hold the reader’s hand through good as well as bad times. I’d love to make a living at writing, but realistically so few writers do. Many writers write because they simply don’t know how not to. It’s a driving force. I’ve referred to it akin to breathing.

Q4 How does my writing process work?

I’m not sure. Every project feels different and the process isn’t always the same. I call myself a pantser — a term in writing circles to mean fly by the seat of. Andy is mostly a plotter. When we co-authored a book together I found it a little exhausting and it wasn’t just because we were stepping in at short notice and had limited time. Andy is fast and he tends to know exactly where he wants to go. I can be fast, but not always, and not when plotting. Writing with someone else requires a certain amount of plotting to be inevitable, but I seldom know where I’m going so following any kind of pattern felt alien to me. I may start a work based on an opening scene that’s come to me. I may have an idea where I want my characters to end up, but not have a clue how they’re going to get there. On rare occasions I’ll know the end, but nothing or not much leading up to it. I have written things based on nothing more than a title or a handful of words given to me. Characters may come to me without a story, or I’ll connect two random events and realise there’s a plot hiding there. I really cannot explain how my ideas form because it can happen in numerous ways.

The writing process itself can also differ. I usually write from beginning to end, as if I were reading a story. Very occasionally I’ll write random scenes or jump a few scenes ahead and then connect them, sort of in the way a film is produced. The writing can come easily or take forever. It’s a wonderful feeling when it’s flowing; other times…I can only say there’s a good reason why writers refer to it as proverbially pulling teeth. When the writing drags it drags big time, yet I can’t base how good the writing is on how easy the work flows. Sometimes it feels as if a story wrote itself and poured out of me; other times I’ve had to wrench out every word, but in neither case does that tell me a thing about the quality of what I’ve produced until I shelve it for a while and come to the edit. That’s the one thing about my process — I like to shelve work before I do an edit. I may edit a little as I go, I may read over the previous day’s work to get me back into the story and tweak it, but before I do a first major edit, I prefer to let work sit a minimum of two weeks, preferably two to three months or even longer.

Q5 What’s new from you?

I’ve a short story called The Night Train in a magazine, Night to Dawn, and I’ve recently finished The Draco Eye a steampunk work for Space 1889 so that’s likely to be the next available longer work from me. The intrepid crew of Sovereign are heading for Jupiter and find the most fantastical creature yet…which the amazing cover reveals.

Coming next…current edits are on a book tentatively entitled Going Nowhere — a title that will likely end up changed owing to publisher’s list of titles already in use. This is a gay erotic romance paranormal detective type thing that will be available from Loose id though I don’t have a release date yet. Who said a writer can’t mix things up?

UPDATE: Going Nowhere ended up releasing as Wildest Dreams.

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