The calm and solitude of my hermitage was breached by the devilish duo Latimer and Ridley, wanting to know if I’d take part in a blog hop. Never one to say no to women who know too much about magic, I of course obliged.
You can read their previous blog here and you can find out all about their excellent Legend Unleashed novel here. I’d recommend it to all fans of things magical and imaginative, it was a really enjoyable read (and I can’t wait for book two!)
Now, on to the blog.
1. What Am I Working On?
I’m in the process of re-writing my first novel, Diary of the Wolf. I originally released the book in 2011 and in hindsight I rushed it out. My band broke-up in the spring of 2011 and my creative backlash was to release my first novel that August. A masters took up most of my time after that (along with an interactive novel app,) and I kind of forgot about the book. I had the second book written to first draft level, the third book was three quarters of the way there and the fourth book already had a solid chapter plan.
I had the realisation that everything I’ve done over the last few years was always something to do while writing and that even though I had plans to be a games developer, really I just wanted a way to get my ideas out to people who might enjoy them.
So, now I’m going through my first novel again, as I can’t build my series on a shaky foundation. I’ve found it pretty painful to read the original and spot all the flaws. Many people have told me about writing evolving with time and practice, but really it was more a case of me rushing something out there to fill the void left by the music.
At present, I’m on chapter eleven of a seventeen chapter novel. I imagine I may have to add one or two along the way, but I’m looking forward to it.
The book is about a twenty-something Dubliner named Ciaran Connolly
2. How does my writing differ from others of its genre?
Until I read Legend Unleashed (link up above,) I had never actually read another werewolf book, not that either books have that narrow a focus. So, I’m not really sure I can give an answer, but I’ll try.
Diary of the Wolf is set in the real world, with a few twists of course. Readers can drink in the same pubs and walk the same trails as the characters. I’ve tried to keep it all very believable while weaving magic and fantasy throughout.
There’s some pseudo-science to how everything works and I’ve tried my best to research every little aspect. A lie is more believable when it’s wrapped around a truth, so hopefully that work has paid off and made the Diary of the Wolf series a bit different.
The characters, especially the protagonist, are all aware of popular culture, so there are no moments of “What is this ‘vampire’ you speak of?”
Also, I’d like to think a lot of myself is in the book, in terms of the attitudes many of the characters have to the situations they’re confronted with.
3. Why do I write what I do?
I love the possibilities that fantasy offers. From a young age I had my head in fairytales and comics; imagination was king.
Before I started working on Diary of the Wolf, I had a number of half-finished fantasy novels (only two I’ll actually go back and finish at some point,) but I could never get around to finishing them.
I got into the habit of walking home from parties in the early hours of the morning, when there were no cars on the road and suburban Dublin was eerily quiet. Left alone with an overactive imagination, I kept visualising werewolves running across empty car-parks at dawn or creeping around suburban houses in the twilight. It kept happening and it stirred an idea in my head, what if there was a werewolf in the same Dublin I existed in. Simple, but plots developed as I walked.
These days Diary of the Wolf often feels like a millstone. It’s a five book series and something like that is daunting to think about, especially when the final book would definitely be split into two movies. I’ve two other novels in the pipes, but until I get at least two of the DOTW series done, they’ll have to be patient.
4. How does my writing process work?
Most of my ideas come to me when I’m walking. I’m actually a fiend for walking, I really don’t understand the type of people who wait twenty minutes for a bus to take them down the road. If the original idea doesn’t come while walking, then it usually strikes me in a dream.
On the topic of dreams, I’ll go through my notebooks. Stories that come from dreams go in to the Bunny Suicides notebook, always by my bed.
When I begin to develop the ideas, they go into the black book. While mostly dominated with Diary of the Wolf content, this is the notebook where all my novel ideas go to take root and grow. Quite often this is where chapter plans will form.
If a novel builds up steam, it’s moved to its own notebook. The white one is for the Bastion of Beleaguered Brothers and the unopened Hobbit notebook is to replace a missing one containing my Totems novel (once the loss is lessened I’ll open the plastic.)
Short stories go to the small blue notepad. Therein lies Lasimir & Loredo and many books on death.
The Red is for the Wolf of Raven’s Rock, an interactive novel based on the Diary of the Wolf series.
The chubby notebook is square lined and used to work out maths and positioning of things within novels.
Finally we have my iPad (with the inscription “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination”) and a bluetooth keyboard. There’s a Macbook Pro under it all, but I find there are too many distractions with a full laptop at my disposal.
I tend to develop the original idea to the stage where I have some core concepts and plot points to hang the story on. Then I’ll plot the chapters out and start writing.
I like to research my work, regardless of what I’m doing.
Diary of the Wolf was research intensive, from checking what bus number a character takes to researching pre-war Krakow, everything is informed. This approach worked grand for the early books set in Dublin, but when the story goes back to ancient Rome, well, quite a lot of work is required.
Action scenes are something I take pride in. Everything has to make sense. If I can’t visualise it, then how can the reader. I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve found myself away from the keyboard and choreographing fights with myself.
Once I’ve a rough draft done, I send it out to a few trusted friends. I get feedback on story, then do another draft. This then goes out to a smaller circle of friends who have the patience to correct my grammar and give me details notes.
I usually get into certain odd habits for each book. For example, the majority of the original Diary of the Wolf was written under moonlight. Whenever I’d forget about it, I’d see a full moon and be inspired.
I went back to writing in long hand and it was wonderful. That magic that comes from reading a notebook full of handwriting. There’s a life to it beyond cold words on a screen. I guess it’s why people prefer actual books to eReaders.
Alas, it all went wrong. I had a novel nicely stored in a lovely Hobbit moleskine and then it disappeared. Gone. I still haven’t given up hope that I left it somewhere in my parents’ house after a visit. Either way, I haven’t been able to bring myself to try and recreate what was lost, hence the new moleskine remaining in plastic. Also, why I’ve now gone back to the digital realm, where everything is backed up to the cloud and two hard drives.
So, I think I’ve rambled on long enough.
The next hop in this blog adventure takes us to Stephen Ward – his blog post here
Stephen is currently located somewhere in the hills of the midlands. It’s quite possible that he’s going to have to rent additional accommodation for his book collection, as it has now taken over the spare bedroom.
If you have any questions, let me know, either on Facebook or on Twitter.