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onceuponatime

Well this is embarrassing. When I took a little break from the blog last year, I expected to be away for a few weeks while the high tides of family and work life reached their peak. But things remained busy and my little break quickly turned into a sabbatical. Before I knew it, the frenzy of Christmas was upon us and the sabbatical had become a hiatus.

‘No problem,’ I thought. ‘I’ll start posting again in the new year. It’ll be my first resolution!’ And then my laptop died. And its replacement was faulty. And the replacement’s replacement was faulty. And, and, and…

And I’m sorry it’s been such a long time coming but here I am, at last.

So what have I actually been doing for the past seven months? I’m happy to report that I’ve spent a lot of the time writing which is, after all, what I still hope to do for a living one day. And what better way to tell you about it than via the Writer’s Blog Tour; a chain interview of four questions, passed from writer to writer on a weekly basis. Mark H. Williams, author of Sleepless Knights, has passed the torch to me this week. You can read his own answers at his blog.

What am I working on?

Almost all my efforts are going into my novel, An Unwanted Miracle. It’s a mystery-cum-thriller with a dark vein of supernatural horror running through it and I’m about four weeks from finishing the final draft. I’m really enjoying it but I’ve been working on it for a little over four years now, so it’ll be a huge relief to finally wrap it up and start on something fresh. With that in mind, I’m also finalising outlines for two other novels, as well as a couple of novellas. My hope is that, by the time An Unwanted Miracle finds an agent or publisher (fingers crossed!) I’ll have at least one other book ready to go.

How does my work differ from that of others in my genre?

I don’t think a writer is ever really qualified to answer this sort of question – it’s up to the readers to judge. That said, An Unwanted Miracle features corpses being raised from the dead, but I made a conscious decision right from the start to move it away from the popular modern zombie/vampire trope. I’ve gone right back to the pre-Romero roots of the zombie genre, coupling ancient African folklore with contemporary Western fears of solitude, intolerance, the surveillance state and institutional corruption. Hopefully that gives it an original twist!

Why do I write what I do?

Simple; because I want to read these stories but no one else has written them yet. I suspect that’s true of many writers – when you’ve read enough books, you start to anticipate the stories you want. When you find that they’re not out there yet, you’ve got no choice by to sit down and make them happen.

How does my writing process work?

When I figure that out, I’ll tell you. Seriously, my ‘process’ has been virtually non-existent thus far and could best be summed up as ‘throw everything at the story and see what sticks’. That’s definitely been the case with An Unwanted Miracle. I started with a clear idea of the tone, the central character and a few key scenes I wanted to include. I just made the rest up as I went along and have been restructuring and refining the story draft by draft ever since. It’s thrown up a lot of happy surprises but it’s a hopelessly inefficient way of writing a novel. Hence the extensive outlines for the next few things I’ll be working on.

In addition to that, I’ve recently started using the Magic Spreadsheet – a Google Doc that allows you to set yourself a daily word quota and displays your word count for other users to see. It sounds really simple but it’s made a huge difference to my writing. I’ve written 50,000 words in three months! That’s about half as much as I’d need to produce if I were a full time professional writer, but it’s already twice as much as I wrote in the whole of 2013.

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Part of the idea of the Writer’s Blog Tour is that I now pass the baton on to others, so they can post their answers at their own blogs next Monday (12th May). I’ll be handing over to the ebullient Claire Fayers 0 author of comic YA fantasy swashbuckler The Voyage of the Onion, which was one of the winners of this year’s Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ‘Undiscovered Voices’ competition. You can find her blog here. And I’m willing to share the love even further; if you’re writing something at the moment, in any format or genre, drop me a note in the comments section or send me an e-mail at bellbookandcandleblog_at_gmail_dot_com. I’ll add a note to the foot of this post linking to your blog.

As for me, well, I’m still not entirely up to speed and my blogging schedule is likely to be patchy over the next few months. But Bell, Book & Candle is definitely back in business!

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