Blog Tour – The Writing Process

Many thanks to writer and colleague, Caroline Mitchell (www.caroline-writes.com) for inviting me to join the blog tour. Caroline has written a truly terrifying account of her experiences of living in a house with a violent and malelvolent paranormal intruder. Coincidentally, that happens to be the title of her book too!

Paranormal Intruder is a best seller within its genre on Amazon and you really should give it a look.

So, with this blog tour we have to address certain questions and these are they:

1. What are you working on right now? I’m about 70,000 words into “Ascension Day,” my sequel to “Legitimate Targets.” That puts me about half-way through. LT was around 150,000 words and I want to keep the sequel to around the same length.

Like LT, Ascension Day is a crime thriller that centres around a village policeman, Jake Sullivan, Details of the story can be found in the “Forthcoming Novels” section of this site.

I had hoped to get the book finished and out there by the end of the year, but as I am unable to write full-time, I think it’s becoming increasingly unlikely (Apologies to the fans who keep nagging me to keep writing, lol)

2. How does your writing differ from others if its genre?  I like to think that I’ve broken the mould of the normal British crime thriller. Most fall into three catagories, (a) They feature senior officers solving crimes, eg Prime Suspect’s Supt Jane Tennyson, TV’s Inspector Morse, or Inspector Frost, or Inspector Wycliff, or Inspector Regan. (b) they feature eccentric female detectives, eg Miss Marple or (c) they feature “Olde Tyme”  coppers such as in Heartbeat.” 

Legitimate Targets features an ordinary modern-day village bobby and catapaults him into a high-octane, adrenaline-fuelled adventure that one would normally expect to see played-out in a Bruce Willis movie! In terms of influences, think Matthew Reilly and his amazingly frantic “scarecrow” novels.

Ascension Day is not quite so fast-paced; it’s darker, more menacing and more suspensful, but the action sequences are still there.

3. Why do you write what you do? Partly because I wanted to address the balance of the nonsensical idea that senior police officers go out solving crime. They are, depending on rank, managers, politicians and policy-makers. They are committed to dealing with budgets and manpower deployment. The closest they get to criminal work is when they are wheeled-out for a press conference as the figurehead for an investigation. It’s the rank and file officers who solve the crimes, but in many fiction-writers’ minds, it’s more impactive to hang their story on a more glamourous rank.

Having read that last paragraph it has a ring of bitterness about it. I certainly don’t mean it to read that way, but as a retired police officer, I’m used to seeing the reality of crime and criminal investigation. I just want to make it more authentic.

The other reason is that, as a retired police officer, I hope that I am well placed to be able to make the novels procedurally correct and hopefully, to give a new slant to the stories.

4. How does your writing process work? I still work full time in a police environment and until I fully retire, hopefully this year, I cannot devote as much time as i need to, to my writing. I actually find it hard to put time aside, because my wife is already retired, and if I spent every evening writing, I’d never see her. Believe it or not, but after 43 years of marriage, we still crave eachother’s company.

The only solution is for me to start writing when she goes to bed, which means between 10pm and 11pm. the problem with that is I won’t finish until midnight or even as late as 1am. Often I am too fatigued from the day’s work, to write at all.

However, once I’m in front of that keyboard, I’m away in my own little world of murder and mayhem!

As you might have seen from a previous blog, I always write bios for my characters, including their traits, likes and dislikes, and events that may have impacted on their personalities. These bios help my characters to perform; it gives them life and they choose their own destinies. I might be holding the pen, so to speak, but it’s the characters themselves who dictate the direction and pace of the story.

I often find out little surprises about my characters too. For example I was pondering on why I have named by hero, Jake. It’s quite an American name and not often associated with British heroes, and then I “discovered” that his real name is James! Apparently when he was a little boy, playing cowboys and indians, he would call himself Jake as it sounded more authentic, and it soon became his nickname. In fact the only people who still call him James, these days, are his parents. 

If you were to ask if I’m a disciplined writer, I would have to say no. If a scenario leaps at me completely out of context, I write it down and try to incorporate it at some point. I can be working on two different chapters at the same time and yes, it can be confusing.

To keep myself on track I use a timeline of the scenes. If I plot out a scene that is still to be written, it is coloured blue and gets added to the timeline. Once it’s written, it’s coloured green. One advantage of this is that should I think that a scene would work better in a different place within the story, I can just move it on the timeline to its new location.

I re-read daily everything that was written the day before, often editing it or sometimes even deleting it entirely. Once I’ve completed the manuscript, I then leave it for a couple of weeks and then re-read the whole thing. I also use text-to-speech or simply read it aloud, to see how it flows. This is a very useful exercise and it can reveal awkward-sounding phrases that might not have been noticed before. Finally, I print-out the entire MS and read it again. it’s amazing how differently it reads to it’s on-screen counterpart. 

 Writing is a joy, I just love the whole process even if it’s slightly disorderly.

The End

Next week the Blog Tour’s guest author will be the brilliant fantasy writer, Leisl Kaberry. You can find her tour blog here: http://titanianchronicles.blogspot.ca/2014/06/blog-tour-writing-process.html

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