Tag Archives: my writing

The ‘Meet My Character’ Meme

I’m borrowing this meme from Susan Lanigan, who – very cleverly – took one of the minor (but extremely memorable) characters in her recent novel and put him under scrutiny in a recent blog post. The good thing about Susan is, of course, that her work is published and readily available wherever good books are sold; sadly, I am not yet in that position.

I still thought it might be fun to take part in the meme, though. So, here goes:

Photo Credit: sanjayausta via Compfight cc  Pleased ta meet ya!

Photo Credit: sanjayausta via Compfight cc
Pleased ta meet ya!

1. What is the name of your character?

He goes by ‘Thing’, but he can’t remember his ‘real’ name, if he was ever given one. By the end of his story he has acquired a new one, which is… but of course, I’m not going to tell you that.

2. Is he/she fictional or a real person?

Entirely the creation of my fevered brain, though on some level I’m sure there are, and were, children like Thing all over the world – children who are forced to make their own way in life from an early age and to look out for themselves, with varying degrees of success.

3. When and where is the story set?

It’s set in a sort-of version of late nineteenth/early twentieth century Europe, in an alternate world which is like our own, but not quite. It imagines what might have happened if some of the problems our modern world is facing had happened a hundred years ago, and how people would have dealt with them using the technology at their disposal. It’s also a world where magic walks the earth hand in hand with science, and where myth is just as potent as belief.

4. What should we know about your character?

He’s a happy-go-lucky survivor who hasn’t lost his ability to trust; he is an excellent judge of character; he can spot an opportunity at a hundred paces; he’ll have the purse out of your pocket before you have a chance to blink. Despite all this, you’ll love him. He has talents and natural abilities he can’t explain, and he has memories that he keeps locked up tight in a sealed box in the basement of his brain – but they still manage to creep out and haunt him at unexpected moments. And for all his cleverness and quick wit, he doesn’t realise what he’s really looking for until he loses it.

5. What is the main conflict? What messes up his life?

When we meet him, Thing’s only real conflict is finding enough to eat on a daily basis – but he seems to be managing that quite well. He’s getting by, his life is uneventful, and he’s waiting to be caught and thrown off the fancy cruise liner in whose innards he has been stowing away. Then another person – a young girl who intrigues him because of her sticking-out-a-mile-weirdness (and that’s saying something) – crosses his path. He reaches out to her and they become fast friends. When she is taken from him he follows her without a second thought, and ends up in the most dangerous situation he’s ever faced. It starts out as one big adventure, but he soon gets out of his depth…

6. What is the personal goal of this character?

Mainly, to survive. To survive, and not to think too much about his past or his future. Thing is a ‘live in the moment’ devotee, not for any mindfulness reason, but simply as a survival tactic. He also has (or, perhaps, develops) a larger goal which doesn’t become clear to him until it’s nearly too late to grab it – but that’s enough about that.

7. Can we read more?

Not at the moment, sadly. I’m working very hard on the edits on Thing’s story at the moment and who knows, someday it will be in all good retailers. Let’s hope so, at least!

Like Susan, I tag anyone who wants to take part in this meme. If you don’t have any published work (like moi) you can use a character from a short story or (whisper it) even invent a character just for this exercise. Asking questions like this is a great way to develop a character. Happy meme-ing, everybody!


The Blog Tour Q&A

A hundred thousand welcomes!

This morning, I have the inestimable pleasure of taking part in a blog tour; the ever-wonderful and marvellously talented Susan Lanigan (whose novel, ‘White Feathers’, will be published later this year, book fans), has nominated me to carry on the Q&A torch. So, here I go.

Image: researchvoodoo.com

Image: researchvoodoo.com

Since I have nothing like as cool as an upcoming book to talk about, I’ll have to answer the questions based on my two most active WiPs; technically, I’m working on both of them at the moment. So, it’s not really breaking the rules. Right?

What am I working on?

The first of my current Works-in-Progress, ‘Eldritch’, is a book which I had thought was finished and done with several months ago. However, it would appear not. A very kind and generous agent-person, who shall remain nameless, gave me some wonderfully useful and constructive feedback on the book a while back which – unfortunately, in a way – necessitated the total deconstruction of the story and the story world, and its rebuilding almost from scratch. The characters stayed the same, and the basic plot, but everything else – narrative voice, motivation, stakes (i.e. what’s at risk if the heroes don’t succeed), structure and scope had to be reimagined.

Invigorating work.

Image: superstock.com

Image: superstock.com

‘Eldritch’ is about a boy named Jeff who, on the day he turns thirteen, receives a strange gift from an uncle he’s never heard of before. But the gift is no ordinary one: it is a deeply powerful object, designed (or so Jeff is told) to test whether or not he has inherited the magic that runs in his family – but does his uncle have a larger and more sinister motive? (Spoiler alert: yes.)

My other Work-in-Progress is one that should be familiar to anyone who’s been hanging around here for any length of time. It’s going under the name ‘Emmeline and the Ice-God’, but that’s only a holding title, so so speak. It grew out of my NaNoWriMo project in November 2013 and was completed in January 2014. I have edited, polished and buffed this one several times, and it’s lurking at the corners of my mind, giving me no peace whatsoever. It’s my intention to start submitting it in earnest in (probably) March, if my nerve holds until then.

‘Emmeline’ is the story of an odd little girl who, when her parents are kidnapped, is sent immediately to live with strangers. On the way to her new life she meets an odd little boy with no name, calling himself ‘Thing’, who doesn’t know his own age or anything about his past. They become sort-of friends, despite Emmeline’s misgivings, and he helps her to escape from a dangerous situation. Before they’ve even caught their breaths after this scary encounter, however, Emmeline is abducted by a gang of strange and frightening men. Thing, with the help of a group of people calling themselves ‘The White Flower’, who seem to know a lot about Emmeline and her family, sets off after her… But who has taken her, and why?

And what is the secret of Thing’s past?

*cue dramatic music*

So, yeah. That’s where I’m at. Besides trying to prepare stuff for competitions and magazine submissions, and stuff. Never a dull moment.

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

Well – it’s mine. Isn’t that enough? I write children’s books (or, at least, it’s my ambition to write children’s books, ones which are publishable and enjoyable and which will be read and loved), and they all have elements in common – a child protagonist in a world (usually) devoid of parental-figures, for whatever reason; an unsettling challenge or a frightening adventure; things are learned about oneself and the world along the way; friendship is put to the test; monsters are encountered and dealt with – and my books are no different from this tried-and-tested model.

I’d like to think my characters make my work different from other books in their genre, perhaps. I like to write dialogue, and I like to write with humour, and I hope that makes my work memorable. I’m interested in writing about children who are a bit strange, even eccentric, because those are the sort of books I loved to read as a kid.

In fact, I might as well come clean. Those are the sort of books I love to read now, too.

How does my writing process work?

Through panic, mainly. Panic, and my all-consuming fear of failure.

Things that work in my favour: I am good at imposing deadlines on myself, and meeting them, and I am a goal-oriented type. What that means in practice is I can’t let myself shut off of an evening unless I’ve made a particular word-count or hit a particular point in the text, or whatever. Not always a good thing, from a peace of mind point of view, but it’s good for the old self-motivation.

Usually, I plot things out to the nth degree – I didn’t with ‘Emmeline’, and it worked wonderfully, so I will try that again for my next project – and I like to have a sense of the characters before I begin, so I sometimes jot down biographies and motivations and the places in the plot where a certain character’s actions will intersect with another’s, and what effects that’s likely to have, and so on. I like to have an idea of how the book will end before I begin, but I don’t always manage that.

I tend to write careful, self-edited first drafts which are massively overlong. I then make at least two on-screen edits, looking for inconsistencies and errors and repetition (the ‘Find’ function in Word is my best friend), and when I’ve done this I let the work sit for a while. Then, it’s time to print and take the whole book apart with scribbled corrections, which I really enjoy. Then, after another period of percolation, I go over the book on the computer screen again, looking to cut words wherever possible; anything which isn’t utterly necessary is junked. Then it gets left to sit, again, and checked over once more (possibly in print) before the submission process begins.

So, that’s me.

I figure passing on the baton is part of this whole process, so – if she’s willing – I’d like to tag the fabulous E. R. Murray to answer these questions, too.

And finally – thank you, Susan, for considering me worthy of the Blog Tour Torch!

Image: friday-ad.co.uk

Image: friday-ad.co.uk