Tuesday, January 22, 2008

That Doesn't Mean It Didn't Happen

It's rare, as I said in a previous post, that I get to impress the teenage Rebel. I take whatever fleeting moment I can. So when I was told that ZENITH was No.2 in the bebo fiction charts, I couldn't wait for Rebel and friends to come in from school, and for the Almost Legendary Guitar Hero to come in from work, so that I could announce that I was higher in the charts than Slash, the Actual Legendary Guitar Hero from Guns n Roses and latterly Velvet Revolver (we saw VR last autumn and my ears buzzed for a week).

Of course by the time you read this the moment might have passed. I might have crashed and Slash might be rising again. But in the words of the man himself, That Doesn't Mean It Didn't Happen.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Happy New Year

A very happy New Year!

CLICK onto my EARTHSPACE blog (http://earth-rise.blogspot.com/) to see how to win £100 of iTunes. It's a bebo competition to celebrate the launch of the paperback release of my eco-epic ZENITH. Or go straight to www.bebo.com/zenithbook to post your green resolution for 2008 and see if you win. Good luck!

2008 has begun with a very nice bundle of mail. It's fantastic to read it all - but quite hard to reply to everyone quickly as I'm trying to write the next book. So I've come up with a few solutions. One is that in the new paperback of ZENITH, out on 1st February, there is an extra feature at the end of the book. It's an interview made up of all the questions that readers mail to me most often. They are really good questions and I enjoyed you 'interviewing' me!

The other solution is to post some of your emails (anonymously) and reply here as best I can.....

"I'm 12yrs old and I've only read Exodus and Zenith. I think they're both really really good books!! Once I started reading I couldn't stop, I was in a totally different world! But your books have also made me think. About the world and global warming. i think it's really cool that you wrote two really good books and still had that important message of global warming. I've learnt so much from reading those two books and i can't wait to read more of your books!
I myself would like to be an author when i am older, and you have really inspired me as a role model. I read through your whole website and learnt a lot! I love to write stories and I'm quite a bookworm. My biggest ambition is to actually write a proper children's book and have it published. But i can never actually finish one story. How do you keep going, do you ever get boerd, halfway throught?
How do you make your characters come to life, so that they are basically real people?
Do you already know how your stpry is going to end once you start writing?
What is the best top tip for you for story writing?
I look forward to reading more of your books!!!!!!
love, a huge fan!
P.S, what's the best thing about being an author?
P.P.S, please, please write back??!!!!!"

My reply:

Thanks for such a lovely message and such good questions. Let's see if I can answer them!

I know exactly what you mean about being in a different world. That's how I feel when the writing is going well and my biggest hope is that people reading the books feel that too. I also wanted you to think - I didn't want to tell you what to think though; that's up to you. Stories are spoiled when the writer tries to put a stark message across to the reader. But if you closed the book and it left you thinking - that's wonderful.

You are already doing some of the very best things you can do if you want to be an author - being a bookworm and imagining up stories. It's the best apprenticeship there is! Read lots and dream lots. Read books you might not normally try, try to work out what makes a book good - or bad. Everything grows and sparks your imagination. And really live your life - then you'll have more to write about.

It can be very hard to keep going with a story. Every author finds this. We get stuck, get bored, want to give up, do anything else....just like you. Sometimes, it's best to move onto a new story. Not every story works. But don't give up too easily. Put the story away for a while - a few weeks or even months - but keep reading and dreaming and living with your eyes and mind open. It's amazing how, when you come back to something with fresh eyes and ideas, the next part of the story pops up out of your imagination. Or you think of a new character, or a new and better way to write it.

Have you ever tried putting the ideas in two unfinished stories together to see if you can make a completely different new one? The trick is to keep playing around, keep making it interesting for yourself, keep having fun with writing, make it a challenge, a game. That's harder than it sounds, as you are finding out, but it's a big part of being a writer. You have to find your own inspiration.

MY characters seem to grow out of a place. I keep finding out things about them as the story grows so it's only by the end of a book that I feel I really know them inside out -it can take half a book for me to 'see' them in my mind, because I'm seeing them from the inside. You don't have to know everything at once. Keep a small notebook or computer page on them and add notes to 'grow' your character a bit at a time - their friends, memories, likes and dislikes, traits. Steal faces from people you see on the street or people that you know - or parts of people that you know - and use them in a story. Soon, they will stop being the real people and will grow, in your imagination, into 3-D characters in your story.

All my stories are journeys of discovery and I hardly ever know exactly what's going to happen - which is very scary. So I get stuck a lot. But there comes a point, usually half way through, when I have a very clear vision of the ending - as clear as a dream (sometimes I really do dream it). That's when I let out the breath that I seem to have been holding for months, my shoulders relax (a bit) and I stop finding every excuse I can think of to leave my desk. Because now I see the end of the journey and I know I can make it.

I just have to work out how to get there....(but that's what keeps me writing. I have to find out).

Exercise your imagination like an athlete exercises their body. Let your imagination go exploring and see where it takes you. Learn to trust it and it will take you on all kinds of journeys. (I think this is the best thing about being an author.)