Joe Craig, the fantastic children’s author of the Jimmy Coates series has nominated me to carry on this ‘Writing Process Blog Tour’. Every week an author posts a blog answering the same four questions and this week it’s my turn.
Joe Craig’s books have been compared with Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider series and he’s one of the best action-thriller children’s novelists in the UK. Please check his books out at www.joecraig.co.uk
I feel very honoured to have been asked by him to carry on this blog.
What are you working on?
I’m currently editing my third novel, Moonlight Possession. To put it extremely briefly, as I haven’t written a blurb yet, a man is murdered and he possesses Lorna, the main character, to get revenge on his killer. I’m about half way through editing my final draft before I send it to the publisher where they will do there magic and turn my story into something people will want to read.
I’m also writing the sequel to Living a Nightmare. I’m about a third-ish of the way through, it’s hard to tell when it’s not complete. I love writing the sequel, there are so many twists and the characters are so much more developed. There is death and gunshots and thrilling moments which make even my nerves tingle when I’m writing it, which sounds stupid, I know. I haven’t written any for a while as I have been busy editing Veil of Anonymity and Moonlight Possession but after exams I am determined to finish it over Summer.
I was planning to have Moonlight Possession edited and sent to the publisher before I finish college exams, that is still the plan, if somewhat over ambitious. But it will definitely be finished over Summer, as will the first draft of Sleeping Reality. I have 15 weeks from my last A level exam to starting uni, fifteen weeks should give me enough time to write two-thirds of a novel – I hope.
How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I think all authors believe their work is different and I think you have to believe that to write a book. There’s no point writing a book if you know your story is the same as other books out there.
It’s not just that my books are different from others in the genre, each book I write is very different. Some authors just write about the same characters, some write just crime, fantasy or action-thriller, I don’t have any specific genre. I suppose what makes my books different from other YA at the moment is that they aren’t about spies, vampires or dystopia worlds. After the success of Twilight and the Hunger Games so many authors and publishers have just released books that are very similar to previous successful novels. I don’t want to do this. I don’t enjoy vampire books, I don’t care if writing about a gorgeous vampire will make me lots of money, I am not doing it.
Veil of Anonymity is about bullying but I believe it is very different from books about this subject. Firstly, it focuses on cyber bullying, a very real subject for many teens but I believe it is under-represented in teenage fiction. Veil of Anonymity also focuses on the life of the bully and I’ve never read or heard about a book which does this. Most bullying books are about the victim and the bully is portrayed as a evil character. I didn’t want to do this, I wanted to make the bully human. What he does is cruel and evil but I want the reader to sympathise, I want the reader to understand, and I think that is very different to other books.
Living a Nightmare is also different because there is no happy ending. This is the same for Veil of Anonymity. Some readers hate me for this but if everything turns out fine all the time then books can get boring. Some of my books will have a ‘happy ending’ because they do happen in real life but I don’t believe a happy ending is crucial to a good book.
Why do you write what you do?
Because I want to write it. I don’t really have an answer for this. I guess it’s because I have a story to tell. I write because I don’t understand how anybody cannot write. I have 18 books planned so I spend half of my time thinking about fictional worlds, it must be so boring living in just one! I write what I do because they are the best ideas that come to mind.
I don’t have a specific genre. My books and planned future books cover all different subjects from dreams that come true, cyber bullying, the paranormal, murder, death, rape, action-thrillers, relationships, terrorism, fantasy and I even have a couple of adult books planned. I’d get bored writing the same genre, especially when I have so many ideas for different subjects.
I write what I do because I love it. I love playing with the reader’s mind, I find it very amusing. The best part about being a writer is when someone goes up to you and says ‘I hate you’ after reading your book. And they go on to say ‘I can’t believe you did that to ****’ or ‘I can’t believe you killed *****’. I am very pleased when someone says they cried after I killed a character, which is very wrong to say but it means I did a good job, because I probably cried as well when I killed them.
The twists are another reason why I write, all my books have twists and a lot of them. When I think of a really cool twist I think I’m a genius, I get so excited. It’s like a ‘Eureka’ moment and it’s the best feeling in the world. In Sleeping Reality, the sequel to Living a Nightmare, for one of the twists I killed a character. When I thought of it and wrote it in my notebook I felt so guilty. I had to put my notebook down and stop writing because I couldn’t believe I had killed him.
Such deep emotional attachment to my characters is another reason why I write. Some of the scenes I write put me on edge even when I know what’s going to happen and I shock myself many times when I think of something to write. Knowing – or hoping – the reader will feel the same is a great feeling. Sometimes when I write I can hear myself thinking ‘ooohooo’ after a character has made a discovery and sometimes I think ‘you evil git’ when I’m writing about a cruel plan a character has planned. Writing to the point where your characters aren’t just you any more is the best.
How does your writing process work?
I don’t have a writing process. Most of my writing career has been haunted by GCSE and A level exams so homework and revision takes up a lot of time, as well as actually going to school and college.
I’ve made myself loads of targets to give myself a writing structure, from writing every day and when that failed I made myself a timetable of when to write each week. That also failed so I set myself a certain amount of words to write each week, that failed as not all of a writers work is writing … unbelievable I know.
Currently I have set a target to do 4 hours of author work each week and I’m sticking to it. That may not sound like much at all but I have exams in less than two months so let me off, please. I am going to write a novel this Summer so four hours at the moment is fine, trust me.
I don’t have a specific time of day to write. I write whenever I have the time to be honest. My favourite place to write is my summer house, but it’s too cold to be in there in the winter … quite obviously. I write in my bedroom mostly but a significant amount of Veil of Anonymity was wrote in boring classes at school which I transferred to my laptop at home. Moonlight Possession was wrote in the back of maths in Year 11 as I sat my GCSE a year early and I didn’t want to do further maths. I can write when it’s noisy and I can plan anywhere but I can’t write if a TV is on, even if the programme is rubbish, it still distracts me. And I definitely cannot write if I’m hungry haha.
I’ve had a different writing process for every novel I’ve written. Some authors plan, write and edit a book all in one go before starting a new novel. After I wrote Living a Nightmare I got my mum to proofread it, a family friend, Keith Pringle, who wrote Rest in Peace of Mind then edited Living a Nightmare. During that time I had started writing Moonlight Possession and then thought of Veil of Anonymity and wrote that instead. I didn’t edit Veil of Anonymity until a year after I wrote it as Living a Nightmare was being further edited and published. I then went back to Moonlight Possession and started writing Sleeping Reality. I’m now editing Moonlight Possession but only after I edited and published Veil of Anonymity. Confusing I know, maybe I will write and edit a whole book in the future without starting another, I probably should.
I am quite a perfectionist so I want my first draft to be good. It never is but some authors write a very rough first draft very quickly then change everything in about 10 future drafts. I take care in writing my first draft which means you don’t have to re-write every sentence. I can spend an hour writing one paragraph and I sometimes use a thesaurus for every-other word as I want it to sound perfect. But then other times I can write a couple of thousand words in a couple of hours. My first draft is pretty much what my story will be, apart from some scenes which I add in or edit out. My first draft is far from perfect and far from publishable quality but it’s not as rough as many author’s first drafts. Excluding proofreading which I don’t do and minor edits, I only do about two further drafts of the book.
That is quite a lengthy description of my writing process seen as though I didn’t think I had one.
That is me done, now it’s time for me to pass this on to a very special author that I know, Kevin Thomas. I have recently read his debut novel, Forgotten Truths, it is a fantastic read, especially when considering that this author is only 15 years old. I cannot wait to read his future books, he truly is a new literacy talent. Please check his book out on amazon.
Kevin Thomas will be posting his blog on Monday 4th May, please keep an eye out on http://bookmania1234.blogspot.co.uk/