Monday, 29 June 2015

Somewhere Over The Rainbow

As a writer of dystopian fiction I guess it's kind of easy to just focus on the things that threaten our society and will ultimately lead to our downfall. Sometimes you just look at world events and feel that this is the beginning of the end. Then you get that sinking feeling in your gut when you realise that this is just a prelude to what your kids are going to have to deal with when they grow up. This is the legacy you leave for them.

I had this sinking moment earlier last week when I was catching up on the proposed threats to our welfare system in the UK and I saw this:

These wheelchair bound protesters are being evicted from the House of Commons lobby last week while the fat cats that make decisions about our country are lining their own pockets with the scraps our disabled population have been surviving off. What we do to our disabled people in the UK is absolutely disgusting, but these are people that aren't able to bang and protest like others in our country and until last week their voices have barely been heard.

It's always the same with governments and welfare - the rich get richer and everyone else has to fight to survive. This is Great Britain - well done us.

Working on my Reacher series it's moments like these that just send a glaring light of inspiration to me and I feel sometimes that I'm not just writing stories, but writing down predictions for the state of society. I guess I'm drawn to this type of writing because it helps me deal with the unsettling feeling I'm left with every time our government makes another bold decision in an attempt to ruin humanity. You know decisions like combating the UK child poverty issue, which is pretty serious, by redefining what child poverty is. God it's great to be British.

But then the USA did something amazing. They made a stand for equality and, amid all this pessimistic blackness, there was a little ray of sunshine - a rainbow on the horizon. We already have gay marriage in the UK, but the news was so globally celebrated that I really got to appreciate what this means for so many people who have been living like second rate citizens because of their sexuality. But it's more than just a breakthrough for today, it suddenly occurred to me that my 6 year old son and his generation will grow up in a western world that recognises sexual equality. We may get a lot of things wrong but this is right. And with every bad thing that has happened and that will continue to happen, it's so important to remember that above all else #LoveWins.

Thursday, 25 June 2015

My Running Game?

I've taken up running.

That's actually a lie, I've taken up thinking about taking up running. The thought is in its early stages but it might go somewhere. It occurred to me that being a writer of a high paced thriller it would be an idea if I had some experience of being in a high paced thrilling chase. Unfortunately, when experimenting with this particular role play I realised very quickly that I am most definitely a soon-to-be-dead character in any type of adventure novel.

My biggest hurdle - pun most definitely intended - is that exercise and me have never been on very good terms. Exercise seems to resent me for my inability to run or jump very well and I resent exercise for giving me stitch and making me sweat. But it was pointed out to me that, for all my extremely sensible planning for the zombie apocalypse, I haven't really made any efforts to sort myself out for the inevitable.

FYI: Sensible planning for the zombie apocalypse includes but is not limited to: armory, food stores, fortified house, fresh water supply, and the all important reserved apocalypse toothbrush.

I also figured that since I put my characters through massive amounts of physical activity it was about time I showed a little bit of solidarity and moved a few muscles myself - if only for the purposes of research.
The first step was to buy an exercise bike. Buying things comes very naturally to me. Unpacking and building less so. But after I left the country for a weekend I found the husband fairies had put the bike together in an attempt to encourage my sudden interest in healthy living.

Now the exercise bike is brilliant. I discovered after day two that if you stick a bit of tape to the screen you can stick your Kindle in place and I can read about a chapter ever 2k. Pretty impressive right? I mean my heart rate was racing and so what if that was down to the latest John Connolly novel - who needs to break a sweat?

Okay the exercise bike couldn't fight this get fit battle alone and that's where running comes in. The plan is to train to run 5k by May. Sounds easy right I mean that's two and a bit chapters!

Unfortunately I'm not built for running. I'm built more for being a bouncy castle. Although I'm trying to get inspiration from a quick sprint down the local lane, trying to put my mind into focus and understand what my characters are thinking, in reality I am more like the Stay Puff Marshmallow Man on the verge of a massive cardiac arrest. 

I think it's hard being a writer and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Every free hour I have is spent at a computer living in a fantasy world, surviving off a diet of coffee and jelly beans. I sit until the early hours of the morning crafting a world where people can climb down buildings and leap off trains (spoiler!). There's so much action to write it's pretty exhausting. But wait a minute. They say that just thinking about exercise burns calories so that must mean each one of my books is like doing an action packed 5k run right? Maybe?

Yeah, even I'm not buying that one. So I guess that means that next week I'll be embarking on my own Running Game. Less guns and gangsters and more cow shit spattered roads and sunburn. Wish me luck. Break a leg.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Getting It Together

You know the first thing they tell you when you get signed by a publisher - "don't give up your day job yet..." The trouble for me is I never listen to good advice. Don't eat that - it's really spicy, do a tester before you spray it all over your body, don't mix your drinks. Yup, I'm more of a "learn from experience" kind of girl with the emphasis on bad experiences. So I've packed in my day job... only kidding, the paying the bills aspect of my life is still plodding along, what I have done is cut my normal office down by half so I can concentrate on being an author.

Sorry, I have to take a second to calm down the excitement here. Every time I think about it I get a little bit giddy. This has been an ambition for so long I had pretty much resigned myself to never achieving it. And what's more is I actually need to do this, I have so much to do I can't afford to not clear my diary - sorry Tom Hardy our date will have to wait.

I guess a lot of people think that once you get the book deal then the world of writing just opens up. Well it does, but it's not a blissful place that an author can just float into - instead it's more like hurtling through a wormhole after eating your body weight in cake. There is so much to do and that's not even thinking about the next book.
Positive attitude the Jelly Beans are half full... but not for long.

Social media is the big thing at the moment and in my case the big scary that looms over me like an expectant gym teacher just waiting for me to fall flat on my face - which will happen.

I have two issues with social media, the first is that it's constantly evolving meaning I get my head around one thing just as it becomes outdated. The second is that I've worked long and hard at reigning in my crazy that actually spewing forth all the nonsense from my head doesn't come naturally (or at least not without a thorough editing process tacked on at the end). I have thoughts and opinions but do I really want to share them? There are some hornets nests that shouldn't be poked and yet if you read my work you read the core of my inner self...

Okay we're getting a bit deep aren't we? The main thing is that in order to be accessible I need to be accessible. What does that even mean? I guess it means that the crazy is going to come out and the posts are going to get more interesting, maybe even a little more controversial. Writing is my life, but there's more to my life than writing. And I'm under strict orders to start talking about it. I may not listen to advice but I do take orders (especially from my Book Manager General).

So today marks the start of the new regime. Two hours of proofreading are in the bag and now it's time to work on my bios for all the social networking sites that demand I make a statement about myself. So far I've got "I like Jelly Beans," which is actually and understatement. God, this exposure thing is tough. Okay "I love Jelly Beans and I have to ration them so I can have some every day," there, now we're getting beneath the surface. Maybe this exposure business won't be so tough after all.

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Almost There

I don't know, maybe it's because I'm getting older (hitting the big 30 this year - eek) and everything just takes a lot longer, but I'm still working on the first draft - that's right still the first - of book 3 of my Reacher series. Back at the start of the year this baby was supposed to take three months to complete, two to polish and off we go to publish. But the best laid plans right?

Of course Booktrope got in the way - damn those pesky publishers thinking they can just sign me up - and then I had to assemble my team and go back to nurturing The Running Game. In the middle there was this thing called life, which always happens and yet still catches me off guard. But to be honest there was no hurdle that should have really held me up like I have been.

No hurdle except a mammoth plot which occasionally got a bit to big to handle. Book 3 is going to be none stop action, first I have to get Charlie back (remind me not to end on a cliffhanger again). Then there's the trouble with the serial killer, the evil Reachers, the Institute. After they're all taken care of - bang, bang, bang - it's time to bring on the big evil (oh yeah I spring that on you now). Phew! I'm feeling breathless.

Okay so that's my excuse. Book 3 is going to be huge so it will take a while. Get off my back. What do you mean I brought it up? Oh yeah I did. Well there was a reason for that. Three months over due I am finally tying up the last bit of the first draft. It's happening now (well not this instant because I'm talking to you - but you know what I mean).

After this things will snowball. The chapters will grow, the characters will develop (those that survive that is) and this book will soon be ready for beta reading. I can't wait. This is my favourite part of writing - the part when it all comes together and it's been so long in the making I can't wait to start.

First drafts for me are the hardest to write. All the ideas in my head are undeveloped and unconnected. They need to be bashed out in the right order, in the right way and for me this doesn't happen overnight (as you can see it doesn't even happen over three months).To write a tense thriller you need to have a plot that's strong, but also that will weave around an unpredictable journey. None of my Reacher series ends the way it's originally planned - it needs to be better, needs to be more interesting, needs to keep you guessing. And book 3 is covering a lot of ground too. This book needs to tie up everything in the previous books so we can move on to the bigger arch, because we are not even close to finishing.

So it has taken time - it's still taking time. Maybe like a fine a wine this book just needed to mature, but I can tell you one thing - I can't wait to fill up my first glass.