Monday, June 9, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour Tag

Frances Pauli is a wonderful writer and a great lady and I feel privileged to call her my friend. She's the one who got my into this "Writing Process" blog tour tag thing.  The author of the Princes of the Shroud series, her blog is at

So the first step in this blog tour tag is for me to answer the following questions:

What am I working on?

I am finishing up a novel entitled Treasure of the Black Hole.  It is a science fiction novel where I have taken the hard-boiled, film-noir detective movies of the 1940s and ‘50s and updated that theme to about 4,000 years in the future. When private detective Rick Bailey is hired by the exotically beautiful and outrageously wealthy Princess Nora, he thinks it'll be easy money.  But when the case turns deadly, Bailey realizes the roots of evil run deep.  What is in the Treasure of the Black Hole and why is it worth killing for?

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In most of my work I try to take conventional notions of science fiction or fantasy and twist them just a bit.  My fantasy novels are not set in some feudal made up world, but in the 20th Century with characters interacting with real-world events and historical figures.  In Treasure of the Black Hole I have a science fiction novel with spaceships and aliens and high technology, but told in the style of a Dashiell Hammett novel.

Why do I write what I do?

At first I thought I wrote what I do because I'm lazy and like to make up my own rules.  But with my fantasy novels set in recent history I have to do a lot of research to get the history correct (and the technology, fashions, language, thought processes).  But I do love playing with worlds, even if I don't "build" them. I love taking an idea, twisting it a bit, and running with it.  The notion of magical people in the real world is what my four fantasy novels of the "Adept Series" is all about.  In my most conventional novel, Rock Killer, which is science fiction about mining asteroids, I take future trends and extend them out to what I see as their logical (and frightening) conclusions.

How does your writing process work?

Of course first comes the idea.  Then I spend some time just thinking, fleshing it out, maybe doing some research or calculations to see if the idea is viable.  I might write a scene or two. But then at some point I decide to write the novel.  I don't outline or plot out every scene first.  I liken it to a road trip: I know where to start, I know where I want to go and I have some way points along the route planned out. But if I come to an interesting detour or another destination looks more interesting, I'm not locked into my original plan.  I can't tell you the number of times I've thought "this will be how this novel ends" and it never came close to that ending.  Then I just sit down and type.  I don't listen to music because it interferes with hearing my characters.  I'll try to hammer out the entire first draft, realizing it will be far from perfect and need a lot of work.  Then I'll let it sit for a while (at least a week) in a process I call "festering."  Then I'll read/edit it.  Then let it sit.  Then read/edit. Repeat.  Then I have someone read it to me.  I find this lets me hear things, such as word repetitions, that I didn't catch reading it.  Then I'll have friends proofread and beta it.  This takes a while.  For instance, I'm just finishing up Treasure of the Black Hole which was a NaNoWriMo 2014 project.  So I've been working on it six months since finishing the first draft.

Now, here are the three writers I am tagging and will be posting their writing process next Monday:

Lori Schafer:

Lori Schafer is a writer of serious prose and humorous erotica and romance. More than thirty of her short stories, flash fiction, and essays have appeared in a variety of print and online publications, and her first novel, a work of women's fiction entitled My Life with Michael: A Story of Sex and Beer for the Middle-Aged, will be released in 2015. Also forthcoming in 2015 is her second novel Just the Three of Us: An Erotic Romantic Comedy for the Commitment-Challenged. On the more serious side, her memoir, On Hearing of My Mother's Death Six Years After It Happened: A Daughter's Memoir of Mental Illness, will be published in October 2014. When she isn't writing (which isn't often), Lori enjoys playing hockey, attending beer festivals, and spending long afternoons at the beach reading. 

Robin Jeffrey was born in Cheyenne, Wyoming to a psychologist and a librarian, giving her a love of literature and a consuming interest in the inner workings of people’s minds. Several of her creative pieces have been featured in college publications from the University of Washington, where she graduated with a BA in English. Robin has since earned a MS in Library and Information Science, giving her the authority to shush whomever she likes, whenever she likes. Currently living in Seattle, she enjoys the offerings of the vibrant literary community, as well as the technology culture for which the city is so famous. A passionate fan of science fiction and fantasy, she will watch or read pretty much anything.

David J. Rodger:

David J. Rodger is a British author of science fiction dark fantasy with eight novels under his belt. Themes include thrillers, horror and action adventure. He is also the creator of Yellow Dawn - The Age of Hastur, an RPG that blends Cthulhu Mythos and Cyberpunk themes into a post-apocalyptic setting. His books cross many boundaries to deliver a new and exciting fusion of ideas and genres. All his books have received critical acclaim. He is known for crafting tightly-wound plots and deep characters that draw you in. All the books are stand-alone and can be read in any order, but occupy a shared universe allowing you to build a deeper knowledge with every story. Supported by Bristol Fantasy & Science Fiction Society. Represented by Floyd Hayes.

Currently working on three novels - with Oakfield due for release autumn this year - launch party to be announced. 
<> Oakfield
<> Broken Fury
<> Sunder Gloom

I've also been commissioned to write a piece of original fiction for Achtung! Cthulhu, so World War II horror with an H.P.Lovecraft vibe. Editor chased me for a pitch last week, which was accepted this weekend - aiming to nail it end of the month.  Quick turnaround.

I've been told my work is different because I write hard-boiled thrillers wrapped in the gloss and grit of science-fiction cyberpunk, with dark fantasy horror injected into the meat as way of bringing new flavours to the reader's pallet.

I write to satisfy the need to do so - a way of exorcising the characters and plots in my head. I also do it for the money.

My process of writing tends to be fairly logical after an initial stage of creative conjuring.  Come up with an idea (character name, type, scene, anything really) and allow that to form some further tendrils. Leave it, come back to it, wait for the moment when it has some weight and grows into a thread of a plot line. Once I have that, I tend to flesh out the story in bullet points - makes it easy to edit and make changes without moving massive blocks of narrative about.  Then I do the first proper draft, converting the bullet points into way points and really working the story up.  I'm known for a pretty gruelling work ethic, which can include 4 A.M. starts and using polyphasic sleep to stay sharp. 

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