THE WRITING JOURNEY
I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.
– Stephen King
Where do you get your story ideas?
Sometimes I can’t remember how a story started by the time I get to the end.
I’ve been fascinated by consciousness, identity and what this all means since I was young. I would read my grandfather’s science fiction books with elements of artificial intelligence and alternate realities and wonder what happened when they died? I suppose that’s why all of my writing deals with the big mysteries of life in one way or another. In a way, I write for my own exploration, in a sort of thought experiment approach, pulling apart our identities, exploring what makes us who we are. If I lost my memories, would I still be me? If I had my body parts replaced with synthetic replications, at what point would I not be me? Do I even need a body?
What am I?
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received as a writer?
Enjoy the ride, it’s the journey not the destination, be in the moment…all those clichés. They’re true, I think. Although someone once said “I like to have written than write.” It’s like that, too.
But if you don’t enjoy the process, what’s the point?
You’re not likely to make it rich as an author. Some very talented writers aren’t even making a living at it. But if you enjoy experiencing a story unfold in your head, watching characters grow, seeing them suffer, being with their joy…then you’re on your way.
Do you believe in Writer’s Block?
I’ve learned not to panic. Hitting a wall ignites thoughts that this whole writing thing is over, I’ll never be able to do it again. But if I step back, give it a day or two, week, month, usually the solution appears. Or at least a solution appears, one that will get me to the next solution or the one after that. Sometimes I just have to vomit words until get the garbage out. Then I have something to work with.
Sometimes the answer involves burning several thousand words and starting over. Even that doesn’t bother me, because I know, as an educator in creativity, all projects are a back and forth process. As long as I’m connected to the story and it’s moving in the right direction, I’m happy.
What is your writing process?
I’m not a pantser.
That’s someone who lets the story unfold on a blank page. I need to know where it’s going, to some extent. A lot of times, I’ll sit down and let a few chapters unfold in my imagination, like I’m watching a movie. I quickly write down keywords. This can be hours of outlining on a legal pad before I go to the computer. Then rinse and repeat.
My writing muscle is up to 2 or 3 chapters in one sitting, but that’s still only 3 of 4 hours of writing. Writing champs, like Stephen King or Brandon Sanderson, can go all day, uninterrupted. I don’t have that stamina. Sometimes I’ll get in the zone and time disappears.
What’s your favourite literary genre? Any guilty pleasures?
Science fiction, dystopia, technothriller and, to some extent, young adult. I do have a series of novellas in the vampire genre. Yeah, I know. Doesn’t fit. That character, Drayton, came out of nowhere when I was at a community theatre production of Dracula. I figured that an immortal vampire would more likely become compassionate and wise as he grew older. The technothriller is similar to vampires in that technology promises immortality and complete control of our bodies.
But then what?