Monday, 26 November 2012

Starting, Growing and Mo'ing

I really enjoyed Word of Mouth: Journeys last week - as did a lot of other people who were kind enough to listen to my story 'Four Minute Warning'.  I was still editing the story as our excellent host Megan Taylor was calling me up to read - just a few words taken out or changed can make a world of difference to something you're reading aloud.  I felt a little bit like a preacher when I stood up on the lectern, then my story's character pushed down on his Raleigh Tomahawk's pedals.  The lectern became chopper-style handlebars and we were away on our race against time.  If you couldn't make it, Oliver Clarke's written a great review of the evening here.

It's a mo' for sho' - if you like, donate!
I got a lot of interest in my facial hair, too - I'm growing a mo' for Movember, and I've finally got my page up and running after my marathon edits.  It's raising awareness (and a little bit of money) for Men's health issues, particularly prostrate and testicular cancer) - it's been fun to see how I would look with a Victorian-esque mo', but it's not sticking around - although it is good to stroke when I'm thinking up new plotlines...

Now the YA novel's current draft is complete, it's time to start on something new.  I wrote three hundred words on one of the stories during a fit of editor's block about a month ago - rather than looking to the past, it's set in the here and now, in a city where green comes through the cracks in the pavement, and our unlikely hero makes a discovery, and a decision that changes his life forever...

Here's to growing things (and shaving some things off) in December.

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Journeys and The Next Big Thing

Busy doing final copy checks and A5 printouts of 'Four Minute Warning'; the short story I'm reading tonight as part of Word of Mouth: Journeys.  

It's been a while since I looked at the story because I've been working through the newest edit of my YA novel.  It's been a brilliant and all-consuming journey of discovery as I follow Cole on his journey of revenge for the death of his father.

And it's not what Cole, or I, expected when I first wrote about the accident all those months ago.  If you want to know what it is, watch this space.  

In the meantime, the scriptwriting powerhouse that is Adrian Reynolds very kindly included me in his 'Next Big Thing' blogpost a couple of weeks ago - now I've completed rewrites and edits on my YA story, it's the perfect time for me to answer the same questions he did, and pass the blog baton on to another great writer.

So if we're all ready, here we go...

What is the working title of your book?
It started life as Coalface, but now I’ve finished rewrites and editing, a new title has come up...

Where did the idea come from for the book?
Lots of different places – I’m a bit of a magpie, constantly jotting stuff down wherever I go.  I’m usually looking at stuff like door handles in a stately home while everyone else is looking at the pictures on the wall.

What genre does your book fall under?
It’s YA fiction, in a historical setting, with a whoosh of the fantastic.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I’d be more interested to see who my readers would pick.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A boy seeks revenge for the death of his father after a train accident, because he secretly saw what happened, and knows it was sabotage…

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I’m working with someone at the moment, and I’m looking forward to seeing where that takes us.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
About eight months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Chris Wooding’s ‘The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray’ – it’s a completely different story world, but mixes up the past and his own take on urban fantasy really well.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?
The characters inside the book. And the world they live in.  Because their story needs to be told.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
It’s Victorian England, but faster.  A lot faster.

Right, that's enough about me, here's someone else with a story to tell about the story they're telling:

Ian writes for both children and adults. His first non-fiction book, A Children’s History of Nottinghamshire, was launched at Waterstones and sold over 1500 copies in the first month. The book proved popular with local schools and libraries and Ian now visits schools with his History Roadshow, a lively mix of pictures, quizzes, storytelling, and classroom activities. 
Ian recently won second place in the Meridian writing competition and his work is currently to be seen at the Museum of Childhood. Click here to read more about Ian’s journey through the centuries and here for an interview with the Nottingham Evening Post.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Morning After Mayhem

Nottingham, Festival of Words team prepare to launch
@wordsnovel as part of Word of Mouth at Mayhem

What a great night!
I met a load of really interesting people at Mayhem last night - a great combination of Mayhem fans (including a chap whose horror make up was eye-wateringly good) and Broadway cinemagoers who had just come out of seeing Skyfall (all very impressed with Mr Bond).

The lineup was great - classic takes on old stories, archive chillers from the seventies and early eighties projected on the wall, and me.

It's my second time I've had work showcased in Word of Mouth at Mayhem, but my first where I did the reading.  I wrote The Good Books specifically for Mayhem - taking all my memories of watching Hammer House of Horror behind a cushion on a Friday night, and rolls them up into a tale that creeps up on you like an odd smell...
Two (A5) pages in to The Good Books at
Mayhem (pic: Robin Vaughan-Williams)
It's a nerve racking thing, standing up in front of an audience and reading your work, but when you don't have Tom Baker's telephone number, you've got to do it.  It's part of being a writer, talking through your work, and getting immediate feedback from people during and after the performance.  It was lovely to chat about how I wrote the story, what parts people enjoyed, and watch other writers perform their work.

If you're thinking about doing it yourself, there's loads of advice on the interweb telling you how to do it, but here's my one tip-top tip:

A5 printouts.  No, really.

When you've finished writing, change the document page size to A5 on your word processor, and print it two pages at a time on your A4 printer.  Cut in half, staple into paperpack-sized notes, and never worry about your story wilting over half way through - you've got enough to concentrate on when you're presenting a chunk of your soul.

Hope that makes sense:  if it doesn't, I'll show you what I mean when I perform at the next Word of Mouth in November - more details later...

If you're still in need of a chill, Mayhem runs until the 4th November - for more info, take a look here.