Pictures of the Princesses

By Allan | Wednesday, 30 September 2009 at 10:21
Category: Fan Club | Tags: ,

Ever since I posted some of my artwork on the Fan Club site, I’ve had requests to draw pictures of what I think the princesses of Faerie look like. Well, I have just posted some quick sketches of Tania’s sisters on the Fan Club website - go to Picture Gallery, and you’ll find them.

But here’s the thing: this is only what I think they look like - if you have them looking completely different in your imagination, then your version is as valid as mine.

The great thing about books is that they allow the individual reader to imagine what everyone and everything looks like. Sure, I’ll describe places like the Royal Palace and Crystalhenge and the sinister fortress of Dorcha Tur (oops - sorry…that’s in book five…), or people like the princesses or Lord Aldritch or whoever - but ultimately, you the reader will decide inside your head what they really look like. And that is why I prefer books to movies - in a book every reader is in charge of how things look, not some casting director, set designer or CGI computer freak.

So, what I’m trying to say, is that if you disagree with how I see Tania’s siters, that’s fine with me - in fact, that’s great. Don’t let my idea of how the girls’ look change the way you see them.

Warrior Princess Book Four

By Allan | Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 08:25
Category: Writing | Tags:

Hello there.

Now, I know most of you come here because you are enjoying The Faerie Path series, but there are also some of you who enjoy Warrior Princess - and I’m kind of hoping that my Faerie Path fans like my stuff enough to give Warrior Princess a try, especially as the first book is now out in paperback

As you probably already know, the 2nd book in the Warrior Princess series is due out at the end of October - and for me, its with this book that the series really takes off. It introduces one of my very favourite characters - Blodwedd the owl-girl. Acdtually she isn’t really an “owl-girl” - she’s an owl who happens to have been magically put inside a girl’s shape - but everything else about her is pure, 100% owl!

Anyway, I wasn’t writing this to tell you about book two, but to let fans know that on Friday I visited with my UK editor friend and colleague James, and (by phone) with the New York based editor Clare, to discuss the plotlines for Warrior Princess book four.

We call these “brainstorm” meetings. I had already given James and Clare a six page document of ideas and thoughts and “wish-lists” for the book, and this was where we’d work out what we liked and what we didn’t like, what made sense and what didn’t make sense and so on.

James is a really great guy to bounce ideas off - and in only a few hours we had split the book into four parts and had more or less worked out a story-arc for each part. The first three books take place in summer, but for this book we’re skipping ahead six months and setting it in the coldest and snowiest and blizzardiest winter ever.

I’ve been looking forward to writing about a snowy landscape ever since I started this series - I think this is probably because I like The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe so much - and that’s set in midwinter. Also, the book that got me hooked on fantasy in the first place - The Weirdstone of Brisingamen by Alan Garner - has a climax in the snow after a ferocious blizzard.

Anyhow, James wrote up the notes of the meeting (I’m way to lazy to do that kind of thing) and has mailed them to me and Clare to make sure we’re all happy with what was agreed. Then James and I are going to have a few smaller meetings over the next month or two (probably over a beer or two…) to iron out more details. It’s so much easier to plot stuff if you can bounce your ideas off another person. (That’s a tip to all you aspiring authors out there!) I actually find that the process of speaking my ideas out loud helps me to come up with new stuff, and the great thing with James is that one of us can say “remember that scene in Buffy The Vampire Slayer where…?” and the other will say “Yes! And what about that bit in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom…”  and we put the two ideas together and come up with a whole new idea.

Anyway, I just thought I’d let you know what I was doing last Friday. And for those of you who are more interested in the Faerie Path, I’m expecting the UK editors’ comments back some time early in October. Watch this space!

The Charmed Return - First Draft

By Allan | Monday, 21 September 2009 at 08:53
Category: Writing | Tags:

Well, at half past ten on Saturday night I typed the words THE END on page 300 of the first draft of The Charmed Return and sent it off to the UK editors.

Now, as most of you know by now - this is not the end of the line for the book. For a start, don’t make too much of the 300 page thing - at this stage the book is typed up double-spaced. I’m not quite sure why this is still the case. It used to be so that editors could write their comments between the lines when the books were sent off on paper, but I think these computerised days, when the book is an email attachment, it’s just tradition.

Anyway, the book will now be read and commented on by two UK editors - Karen and Rosie, with whom I have been working since The Immortal Realm. They’ll be getting back to me in a few weeks, at which point I will check through what they have suggested and make all the changes that I think help make the book better. These changes can range from places where I haven’t explained things very well (places where I know what’s going on, but I kind of forget the reader doesn’t…), and places where I’ve repeated words too often - and places where things might work better if they are put in a slightly different order. It can also include some “strikeout” - which is where the editors put a line through words, phrases, sentances or paragraphs that they think are not necessary - you know, where I repeat myself or tell readers things that the editors don’t think are relevant. Editors are also really keen on pace and action - and they’ll always be looking to keep the story moving at speed, so I sometimes have to be careful they don’t want interesting stuff edited out just to keep the plot moving fast. Descriptions of places are always being edited down in this way - they think people get bored by long descriptions of places.

Something else they do is to ask me to put some dialogue in among long action scenes - and to put some action in among conversations - they also think readers get bored by action without conversation and conversation without action.

Very occasionally, they will ask me to take out entire scenes because they think they are not relevant to the plot. Sometimes I will agree to this, sometimes not.

But among all this editing, I can tell you one thing - they have never tried to edit the songs or poems.

Anyway, I’ll let you know when the book comes back from Rosie and Karen, and how much work they want me to do on it, and whether I agree with it all.

Artwork & Photo

By Allan | Wednesday, 9 September 2009 at 21:21
Category: Fan Club | Tags:

I just thought I’d let you know I’ve posted three more pieces of my artwork on the Fan Site - plus a photo of my cat taking over the office!

The Charmed Return - latest news

By Allan | Wednesday, 9 September 2009 at 09:05
Category: Writing | Tags:

Hello there.

Well, I’m now over three quarters of the way through The Charmed Return and heading towards the final showdown between good and evil. My plan is to finish by the end of the third week in September.

What happens then is I send it off to the UK editors.

In case any of you are not sure what editors do, here’s the low-down. They are people who work for the Publishers. Their job is to read every manuscript really carefully and critically and make suggestions for changes that they think will make the book better.

They will suggest cuts in the text to make the plot flow more quickly - they will suggest moving scenes around to make the story easier to follow - they will suggest additional scenes - or removing scenes - or shortening descriptions - or adding action - or just tweaking sentances and paragraphs. It is quite unusual, when I get the book back from the Editors, to find a single page where they have not made some suggestions. Dealing with this is all part of being a professional writer, in case any of you would like to be published authors.

To give you the full picture, those of you who have taken a look at the “special features” in the Lord of the Rings DVDs will maybe remember Peter Jackson talking about the New Line Producers constantly looking over his shoulder while he was shooting the movies, and making suggestions about how the movies should be changed. Editors are a little like producers, in that they are always coming up with ways of improving books - some of which are quite good ideas, and some of which are not!

The other similarity between Book Editors and Movie Producers is that they provide the money, so they have quite a big say, and I have to fight my corner if they want changes I don’t like.

So, the “finished” manuscript I will send to the UK editors is known as the “first draft”. They will work on it for a few weeks then send it back to me to make the changes they suggest.

I plan on letting you know in real time how this all works, so I’ll post a blog here when I send it off, and another when I get it back, and so on. I’m afraid this is all a bit technical and not very exciting - but it is all part of the process of getting an idea out of my head and into bookstores.

Meanwhile - I was wondering, you’ve been discussing actors for the “movie” for a while now - but in a perfect world, if you could be in the movie, which character would you like to be? (No, not Tania - someone else). I’d be Lord Brython - I’m quite fond of Hopie and I’d love to live in their castle by the sea.


By Allan | Tuesday, 1 September 2009 at 08:06
Category: Writing | Tags:

Hello there. Nothing particular to report - except that I’m now getting fan mail from Germany and Austria - which is exciting, and fortunately as Claudia is German, I don’t have problems knowing what fans who write to me in German are saying. Oh - and the Germans publishers have put out Audio CD versions of the early Faerie Path books, which is very cool!

All I was really going to say is that September is my favourite month of the year. Where I live in London UK, this is the time of year when the trees begin to go brown and golden and yellow - and the Virginia Creeper in the garden turns red. The light changes as well, it gets more golden and the twilight is thick and deeply-coloured so that some evenings the whole sky goes flame-pink. And I love the huge clouds that go sailing across the sky at this time of year - makes me think that the Cloud Scudder could be hiding behind one of them.

This is also the time of year when I feel the need to get into The Lord of the Rings again - I think maybe it’s partly because Frodo left the Shire in September. Claudia and I have just watched the Movie Trilogy back to back - and I’m listening to The Hobbit on audio tape…and as soon as I finish that, I’m going to be listening to the complete unabridged Audio Tapes of The Lord of The Rings. I’m a bit of a Lord of the Rings fan, in case you hadn’t noticed! I first read it when I was at school - and I think I’ve probably re-read it every year since. I think it was because of The Lord of the Rings that I always dreamed of writing my own Fantasy trilogy. Of course, you never expect those kind of dreams to come true! But thanks to all of you guys buying my books and enjoying them, I’ve been able to write not just ONE Fantasy trilogy but two! And with any luck…maybe even more…

Anyway, I guess all I’m really saying is, this is my very Favourite Time Of Year, and it’s early morning in London and the sky is a windswept blue and the birds are singing in my garden, and Siouxsie is asleep on the couch, and things are going great with The Charmed Return and I’d like to thank all you guys for writing to me and posting comments and joining Marisa’s Fan Club.

bye for now!