Q: Do You Have Any Tips For Aspiring Writers?
Yes, I do have a few thoughts about this. Always carry a notebook with you to jot down any interesting things you might see or hear, or to make a note of any ideas that might pop into your head – there’s nothing more annoying than having a great idea and then losing it again before you can write it down.
Sleep with a notebook beside your bed – dreams and random sleepy thoughts can sometimes be springboards to a great storyline – but if you don’t write them down immediately on waking, they will often get lost.
It can be tricky to make dialogue sound realistic. You can check whether the words you put into your characters’ mouths sound like things people might really say by speaking them out loud. Record them if you can, and listen to them. Do they sound realistic? If not, try and figure out why not and keep re-writing till you nail it.
Always have your “ideas antennae” up – and when you listen to friends or family talking, or read magazines or books, or watch movies or TV, always be on the lookout for things that spark your creative interest. (Did your gran tell an anecdote that you could turn into a story? Go ahead and write it! In the book Jane Eyre, there is a mysterious mad woman locked in a tower – one writer took this character and wrote a book about her life and how and why she went crazy. Maybe you could take a minor or unexplored character from a favourite book or movie or TV show and tell their story?)
If an idea you’ve been working on runs out of steam, don’t be afraid to abandon it. You’ll find that the best parts of the idea will resurface later on in a different story. Nothing good is ever wasted!
Never write when you don’t feel like it. Forcing yourself to write on a schedule is a waste of time, and you’ll find yourself having to throw away or totally re-write stuff written under those circumstances; far better to go and do something else and come back to your story later.
To find out if an idea has “legs” (meaning: it can be turned from an idea into an actual story) – plot out the whole story before you start writing. If you find the thought of this rather boring and constricting, at least plot out where you want your characters and your story to be by the end of scene one/chapter one. Stories are like journeys – you really do need to know where you are going before you set out, even if you find that you change your mind halfway. Writers of thrillers or mysteries will start a story, knowing the beginning and the end – then their job is to fill out the middle. Try coming up with the end of your story before you start writing – then you will always have something to aim for – even if a better ending occurs to you while writing.
Q: How Hard Is It To Get A Book Published?
A: I’m told it gets harder all the time, but on the bright side, I’m reliably informed that approximately 130,000 books get published every year in the United Kingdom, and about 190,000 in the USA - so someone is getting their books out there! The best way forward for a new writer is probably first to approach a Literary Agent rather than a publisher. Find one who works within the genre that interests you, and write them a polite introductory letter.
Q: Who decides what goes on the cover of a book?
A: That is usually the publisher, or the publisher’s marketing department. Writers get to give their opinion, and sometimes even to influence the look of the covers, but on the whole, this is handled by the professionals within the Publishing House - people who spend their working lives figuring out what will appeal to potential customers.
Q: Which is your favourite of the books you have written?
A: I honestly don’t have one. Can I just say “the one I’m working on right now” and leave it at that?
Q: How did you get started writing fantasy books?
A: My interest in and love of the fantasy genre was ignited when I was about 10 years old, and a teacher read aloud to the class from a book called “The Weirdstone of Brisingamen” by an English writer called Alan Garner. Pretty soon, I started searching out other fantasy books and then writing my own. However, at the time I was trying to get published, fantasy was out of favour, so I moved on to topics without a supernatural element. But as soon as fantasy came back into favour again, I was right in there!
Q: Do you read similar books to your own to keep your finger on the pulse of the “teen scene”?
A: Actually, no, I don’t. It’s probably not a great idea to try and appeal to whatever the “teen scene” is. By the time you plot out a book and write it and get a publisher to take it, a couple of years can have gone past - and the “teen scene” you were appealing to will have gone, too! Nothing dates quicker than the “teen scene”!!
Q: How do you remember stuff for your writing?
A: I make plenty of notes along the way - sometimes in files and documents in my computer, and sometimes in small note-books that I carry around with me. My best advice is to always carry a pen and some paper - you never know when inspiration may strike!
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring young writers?
A: That’s a huge question. To be honest, the best advice I can give is to take a look on Amazon or some similar on-line bookseller, and see if you can pick up a copy of a book I co-wrote, called: Teach Yourself Writing For Children & Getting Published. (By Lesley Pollinger & Allan Frewin Jones.) There are several editions, so make sure you buy the most up to date one!
Q: What Are “Lamia’s Revenge” and “The Serpent Awakes”?
A: These are the first two of a Manga trilogy inspired by The Faerie Path series. I did not write them, nor was I involved in the plotting, but the writer and artist used The Faerie Path books as source material. Chronologically in the “Faerie” world, I think they take place about 6 months after “The Sorcerer King”/”The Seventh Daughter” ends, possibly a few months later. The 2nd Faerie Path Trilogy, which begins with “The Immortal Realm” (due out May 2009), follows on directly from the first three books - The Immortal Realm kicks off about two weeks after The Sorcerer King/The Seventh Daughter ends.
Q: How Many Books are Planned for The Faerie Path series?
A: At the moment, six, not including the Manga trilogy. I have no plans for any more after that, but you never know.