The Writer’s Blog Tour is a set of four ‘chain questions’ passed from writer to writer. Everyone who receives the sacred baton (it is sacred, I checked) chooses another three or so writers in turn. A few weeks back, Mike Carey asked if I’d like to take part – Mike’s answers, and links to several other writers in the chain, are on his blog here. My own answers are below, followed by the writers I’ve asked. Please do check out their answers in about a week’s time (these things usually happen on Mondays, for reasons which are undoubtedly also sacred).
What am I working on?
I’m in the final stages of my first TV drama commission, a hugely enjoyable experience, and I feel I’ve learnt a lot from it. It’s some time away from transmission, so I’ve started a treatment and pilot episode for a new spec TV script – a drama series for a family audience, drawing on British mythology.
I’m also writing the first draft of my next novel. It sort-of leads on from Sleepless Knights, but is also the start of something new. It’s the story of the men and women left out of Camelot, and what happens when they get the chance to create a legend of their own. It’s inspired by the Taliesin and Merlin myths, and lots of fragments of Celtic tales about monsters, bards and magic. And Tenby. There’s lots of Tenby in it.
How does my work differ from others in my genre?
I don’t feel even remotely qualified to talk about any genre as a whole! On a practical level, I’ve always enjoyed writing in different mediums, rather than working in one particular area. Some of this has been out of choice – it keeps things fresh, and helps to develop new skills. And some of it is out of necessity, and guided by where the work is coming from. I started in radio and moved into theatre, and now combine theatre with TV scripts and books.
Why do I write what I do?
Whatever I’m working on, I’m trying to recreate the effect that inspiring works of fiction have on me – and to convey that enthusiasm in my own way. I love stories with elements of enchantment, that bring a sense of wonder and mystery to the world, or to a way of seeing the world. I like characters that give you unusual and different ways in to stories. And I love mixing tones and genres. Things that make you laugh and cry, that take stories in unexpected directions, and keep you wondering what’s going to happen next.
How does my writing process work?
I usually start with a fragment of an idea – part of a character, or a ‘what if’. When something starts to take shape, I’ll draw on lots of research and inspiration, as wide a range of sources as possible – from life, history, books, TV, comics, paintings, poems – anything that strikes a chord. Characters and story emerge more fully out of this, and when they do I’ll start working on the structure.
I normally don’t start on a full draft until I have a loose structure in place, and I try to keep bigger story questions at the heart of every stage of this – whose story it is, what do they want, how can that create conflict and move things on. At a certain point, if I’m on the right track, it becomes a really enjoyable mix of creative, imaginative flow and mechanical plot-based tinkering.
After the relief of getting a first draft done, ideally I put it aside for a bit, before pulling it apart as much as it needs, for as many drafts as it takes. Good and trusted feedback is invaluable in the drafting process, and my work always feels better for it.
Next week the baton goes to…
Sarah Dollard is a TV screenwriter. Her writing credits include Being Human (UK), upcoming BBC1 Cold War spy drama The Game, and untold episodes of the Australian soap opera Neighbours. A former script editor, she has also worked on Merlin and Primeval. You can find her on twitter here, and she fangirls on tumblr here, where you’ll also find her Blog Tour answers next week.
Peter Bell is a writer, reader and sometime reviewer of fantastic fiction, with a passion for sci-fi, fantasy and horror. He divides his time between his day job (which pays), fiction writing (which doesn’t pay anywhere near as much) and family life (which pays in a whole lot of non-financial ways).
His short fiction has been published by Morrigan Books and Pseudopod (you can listen to his dark fantasy tale, The Trinket here) and he’s currently putting the finishing touches to his first novel; a horror mystery called An Unwanted Miracle.
Peter’s blog is here.
…plus a third and final Blog Tourist, to be announced shortly!