This is my first step on the first rung of the ladder of authorship! My publisher, Greyhart Press, has arranged for this to happen at FantasyCon 2012 (firstname.lastname@example.org) at the Royal Albion Hotel in Brighton (UK).
The book is Badger’s Waddle, a collection of loosely interlinked tales from an English village. The artwork isn’t ready yet, so I can’t show you the cover.
Do visit Greyhart Press as they are looking for Beta readers, asking only that you write an Amazon revue after reading – a great way to get free books!
This small success got me wondering how I actually got around to writing Badger’s Waddle. I thought it might be useful to other budding authors, so here it is:
How do you begin to write a story? There’s no single or simple answer. For me, the incentive begins when I notice a peculiarity in a television program or film, hear an odd turn of phrase on the radio, read a phrase in a book, or see something in the street that sparks a chain of thought.
Take Badger’s Waddle, for instance. My wife and I were on holiday in Cornwall several years ago. We visited the Seal Sanctuary there, and one of the countryside walks around the site was named Badgers Waddle.
The name was perfect, being simultaneously mundane and twee, yet unusual and evocative. I was immediately struck by how ideal it was for the name of a rural village lost in the heart of England, the sort of idyll that the great Agatha Christie might have chosen as a setting for one of her mysteries.
So, now I had the initial impetus for the book – but what about plot? After all, a book title isn’t enough on its own – most people tend not to buy books just to read the title! There also has to be a story.
I think I’m quite lucky in that when I sit down at the keyboard and type out a word – any word – another one quickly follows without my having to give it much thought. I never plan anything I’m going to write – I like the surprise of finding out what’s happening by instalment.
Oddly, when I write I don’t feel like I’m creating something. Rather, it’s more akin to a sculptor with a block of stone. He or she chisels away all the bits of unwanted stone in order to expose the shape within, the shape that already exists in the block, but was previously hidden. That’s how it works for me. The story is already written, somewhere, and all I have to do is reveal it by getting rid of the empty spaces and nonsense that surround the real words in the tale.
Most books have a beginning, middle and end, but in the case of Badger’s Waddle, the plot isn’t entirely linear. Instead, there is a series of events and happenings that are chained together by the commonality of locale, concepts, and relationships. For instance, characters or ideas introduced in one chapter then provide a link to a subsequent chapter. Additionally there is a running theme, the inventions of Crippin and Hare, that also lends continuity within the scope of the village (or hampton – a lovely term suggested by my good friend Ian Watson, who also helped out with the Latin!)
Equally, most books confine themselves to a single genre. Badger’s Waddle doesn’t. Fantasy, science-fiction, horror, and the supernatural all have a place within these pages. This wasn’t initially by intent, but as the book progressed so did my realisation that I wanted to write something that would have appeal to a cosmopolitan audience that might have diverse tastes. Whether I have succeeded in that, I can’t say. That is entirely up to you, and I’d be delighted if you’d let my publisher know your thoughts. They may influence what and how I write in the future…
Happy Reading AND Writing!