A little late to the game I know. It’s almost four years since my first book was released. That was Lost Christmas. Since then The League of Sharks (part one of the Room of Doors trilogy) has come out. Then, the audiobook version of Lost Christmas, read by Eddie Izzard. Then The Nine Emperors (part two of the Room of Doors trilogy). And now the third and final part, The Nightmare Clock, is due to be released on October 1st in the U.K. Shortly followed by the U.S. version of Lost Christmas (October 6th).
This time last week, I was in Corfu along with my family and our friends (Dave, Alex, Ellie, Jay, Coco and Monty) and, inspired by that holiday, I have started work on my fifth book. This one is a thriller aimed at a more adult audience than my previous family-friendly offerings but as I have been working as a screenwriter for about seventeen years now and the majority of that time has been spent writing thrillers I felt it was about time to do something a little different.
I love writing in all its forms and I count myself very lucky that I get to write novels and screenplays. My working weeks are rarely the same. I have and probably always will jump between projects. Usually I have an A project, which takes pole position, and a B and C project which I will be working on to a lesser extent. Maybe throwing some notes together on project B and thinking about project C as I drift off to sleep. Letting those ideas percolate slowly until they start to become something.
Occasionally I have projects D, E and F as well. Then my head gets a little full and I tend to bump into the furniture and try to put clothes on the dogs instead of the children. Fortunately I have a very patient wife.
This blog will be home to anything and everything. Sometimes I will share lists of my favourite books, films, TV shows, characters, dogs in literature, favourite opening lines, favourite closing lines, authors who inspire, books for a rainy day, best audiobooks, books for a road trip across the USA, which types of cheese to eat with which books.
Other times I will share some writing tips. Probably more focused on screenwriting than novel writing but only because screenwriting has more rules. I learnt all the rules when I was starting out and I’m a firm believer in the notion that one must know the rules in order to break them and breaking the rules is what makes for exciting and innovative TV shows and movies.
A lot of what I’ll write about will be just as relevant to novel writing. I’ll touch on structure, characters, dialogue, pacing, writing treatments, coming up with the perfect title and rewriting rather than writing. I’ll recommend the screenplays every budding film writer should read. Anyone who wants to be a screenwriter should be reading as many screenplays as they can get their hands on and, seeing how there are dozens of websites out there devoted to collecting real life film scripts, there’s no excuse for not reading them. When I was starting out those websites didn’t exist and I spent a small fortune buying photocopied scripts from a company I found advertising in the back of some magazine. They weren’t even very well photocopied. I feel like a bit of a chump now.
I also plan on starting a new story here that I will write as I go in instalments. Right now I have no idea what it’s going to be about and I’m not going to plan it in too much detail. It may well change as it develops. Like I said, writing is really rewriting but I think it’s crucial to get through to the end of a first draft before embarking on a second draft. So you may well see a first draft and how it becomes a second draft.
Everything I write about here will be merely my opinion or the way I do things. There is no right way or wrong way just your way or my way. You need to find what works for you. I’ve found what works for me but it evolves all the time.
I also have a few passages that were cut from earlier drafts of my books, which, if the mood takes me, I might post here, and explain why they didn’t make it to the final draft. It’ll be like the deleted scenes in the Special Features section on a DVD.
There will probably be other things that I’ll think of as I go and it’d be great to hear some feedback from anyone who takes the time to read. So to start here is the aforementioned Matching the Cheese to the Book…
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is probably a Davidstow cheddar.
- Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights is a fine Stinking Bishop (Hopefully that doesn’t sound like I’m insulting Pullman. His Dark Materials is regularly in my Top 3 of all time).
- Fantastic Mr Fox is a cheeky Port Salut.
- Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book is a nutty Comté.
- Ian Fleming’s Moonraker (which, you will discover in The Nightmare Clock, is Junk’s favourite of the Bond books but least favourite of the Bond films) is a British Camembert with a glass of port.