I was asked to join in with a blog-hop style thing by the brilliant Prue Batten. You can find her (like mine, Robin Hood-themed) books here, please take a look – they kick ass.
And here’s the blog she wrote for this little project:
Right, on with my part of the blog!
1 What am I working on?
By the time this is posted I will be in the process of promoting by second book, The Wolf and The Raven, which is the sequel to Amazon’s UK “War” chart number 1, Wolf’s Head. Both are based on the original Robin Hood ballads and form part of a planned series of four books (originally a trilogy, but the characters in the second book took over and led me down a path I’d never planned so an extra novel has been added).
Amazon have very kindly asked me to represent their Kindle Direct Publishing, Createspace and ACX/Audible platforms at the prestigious London Book Fair on April 8-10, where I will be officially releasing The Wolf and The Raven (along with the audiobook version of Wolf’s Head). It’s a huge opportunity – HUGE! – and hopefully I made the most of it!
2 How does my work differ from others of its genre
Lots of historical fiction authors are journalists, or professors or have been employed in some other middle-class profession that probably lends itself to writing in general. By contrast I’ve always been employed in menial jobs (and still am) so I think I bring an unusually “common” touch to the genre. I’ve also lived in some extremely rough parts of Scotland. So, when I’m writing about men – outlaws – on the lower rungs of the social ladder I’d like to think it’s realistic because I know what I’m talking about!
3 Why do I write what I do?
See last answer. Spending years working as a basic “foot-soldier”, and for a (thankfully) short period of time living in a place where even CCTV didn’t deter drunk women from chasing their men down the street with baseball bats has given me a strong desire to make the most of what talent I might have so I can make a decent future for myself and my family. Writing has given me an opportunity to do that.
Why I write historical fiction in particular is simple: I love to read it, so that’s what I chose to write myself. Bernard Cornwell, Douglas Jackson, Anthony Riches, Ben Kane, all these guys wrote books I enjoyed immensely and I wanted to try my hand at doing something similar. Hopefully my first two novels match up – somewhat – to those writers’ books.
4 How does my writing process work?
I start with a basic framework for an entire novel, and when I say “basic”, I mean exactly that. I have a starting point, a few ideas for the middle, and possibly something I’d like to happen at the end. I then sit down with some heavy metal in my earphones and lose myself in the world I’m trying to create. My first book, Wolf’s Head was fairly well planned, but The Wolf and The Raven rather wrote itself, and I love that. Still, I’m sure some reviewers will say it’s “predictable” even though I didn’t know where the hell it was going myself.
The most important thing for me is to have a fairly well-formed idea of how you’d like a particular scene to go, then sit down, music on, no distractions and let the characters act out your scene, pulling it in whatever direction is natural. From there, each scene leads to the next until you reach your goal.
I have no set schedule for writing – I don’t write for an hour every day or anything like that. I write when a) I can get a chance (I have a 6 month-old son and a 6 year-old daughter so time is very limited!) b) when I have an idea for a scene in my head and c) I’m in the right frame of mind. It’s a slower process than some people, but it works for me. Trying to conform to what other people do or say YOU should do is pointless – do what you feel is right for yourself, not just in writing, but in life!
Thanks again to Prue Batten for inviting me to take part in this.
I was supposed to tag three other guys to follow on from me, but the lads I asked were (rather like me!) too busy to do it, except for Glyn Iliffe, who writes about Odysseus. His fourth novel came out recently and I was lucky enough to read it before it was even published because I’m such a fanboy!
Find the blog he’s written as part of this here:
Check out Glyn’s books here:
Great post, Steven and thank you for the link and kind words. You’re rather like me – essentially only able to write when there is time or when the moment grabs you and won’t let go. The idea of pining away in some garret has never appealed – one can’t write in isolation and watching people is the best way to absorb nuance and turn it into something readable, no matter the genre. And both you and I are able to do that – me in the country, you in the city. Besides the common people make THE best characters, don’t you reckon? All that grit and determination, all that back story! Cheers and looking forward to a post on your experiences at the LBF.
You’re spot on Prue, although I don’t live in the city (I live on the outskirts of Glasgow in a small village). I do work in Glasgow a lot though! The idea of writing in a garret, like some Lovecraftian character is hugely appealing, although without any pining involved 😉
Blog about the LBF will be written over the weekend, I had a great time.
Thanks again for inviting me to this!