What’s Your First Draft Like? – Cally Taylor

Today I’m really pleased to welcome Cally Taylor onto the blog.

CL Taylor author photoCally lives in Bristol with her partner and young son. Born in Worcester, she studied for a degree in Psychology at the University of Northumbria, Newcastle.

Her debut psychological thriller THE ACCIDENT was published in the UK by Avon HarperCollins in April 2014 and has been sold to nine other countries. To date it has sold 150,000 copies in the UK alone and was listed as one of the top ten bestselling debuts of 2014 by The Bookseller magazine.

When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

I start a new notebook and begin mind-mapping. My novels normally begin with a ‘what if…’ scenario and I work out the story from there. I’ll write down everything that occurs to me – characters, backstory, scenes etc – and then I give myself a bit of time away from the notebook to see if the idea crystallises in my head. Once it does I begin scribbling again, to flesh out the idea and get to know my characters.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

I always start with a notebook and scribbles. I find I can’t get an idea clear in my head just by thinking about it, I have to put pen to paper.

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Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?

It varies. When I wrote my first psychological thriller, THE ACCIDENT, my son was only a few months old and I wrote the first twenty chapters directly into a notebook, writing in 45 minute snatches of time whenever he napped.

With my second psychological thriller THE LIE my son was old enough to go to nursery so I wrote straight onto the computer. It’s easier to correct your work if you type straight to the computer and typing up handwritten drafts can be very time consuming (although you do get to correct the text as you transcribe).

How important is research to you?

Very. With THE ACCIDENT I didn’t have to do a huge amount of research, other than into Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and sociopaths, but I did loads for THE LIE. I read about toxic friendships and why women kill and I watched documentaries about cults and Charles Manson. I also visited an animal sanctuary in Devon.

The novel I’m plotting now, THE FORGETTING, has involved even more research and, for the first time, I’ve interviewed several people, including an ex-policeman, a psychologist, an ex-drugs rep and a mobile phone expert to ensure my story is accurate.

How do you go about researching?

I read a lot, mostly books, but also credible articles online. I watch documentaries, I google for images, I visit places and I interview people (mostly via email but a few I’ve spoken to over the phone).

How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?

Most of it goes into my notepad – particularly notes I’ve made from documentaries and non-fiction books and print outs of the interviews I’ve conducted. For THE LIE I made a Pinterest board to store all the images of Nepal I’d sourced online. It’s open to the public but you can make Pinterest boards private too. Some of my research ends up on the wall in front of my desk. For THE LIE I sketched a map of Ekanta Yatra, the fictional retreat/cult on the Anna Purna range in Nepal where my four characters spend the majority of the novel.

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

Once I’ve mind-mapped my story to death I start plotting it. I usually use the 3 Act Structure and plot my scenes against it, ensuring I’ve got an inciting incident, climax etc, then I start writing.

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

I normally walk around my house barefoot but, when I sit down for writing, I need warm feet so put on the warmest socks I can find (normally the ski socks from my one and only skiing trip). I also like to have a drink at hand and some chewing gum to chew on. Sometimes I’ll listen to music and find instrumental soundtracks particularly good as they’re very atmospheric and can get me in the mood for the scene I’m writing. I wrote THE LIE to the soundtrack of the film ‘In Time’ on repeat.

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?

If I’m completely lost in the scene I’m writing I lose track of time. If I’m struggling I’m easily distracted by the outside world.

What does your workspace look like?

I’m very lucky to have my own office in our house but it’s a multifunctional room – one third desk and books, one third gym (well…a treadmill) and one third guest sofa/bed. If someone comes to stay I have to wrestle the treadmill up and angle it out of the way so I can pull out the bed which pretty much butts against my desk. It’s a snug room!

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Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

Edit at the end.

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?

It depends how close I am to my deadline! If I’m getting close to my deadline I like to work out how many full days I have to write (I write full time four days a week) and how many words I have left to write, approximately, then I try and hit that word count each day.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

Anywhere from four months to seven months. The shape it’s in very much depends on how detailed my plotting was before I started writing. When I finished the first draft of THE ACCIDENT I only had to give it a relatively minor edit afterwards (I plotted it in detail in my head during the many, many broken nights I spent breastfeeding my son!). THE LIE was more of an experiment – I started writing it with only the bare bones of a plot and, as a result, had to spend three months afterwards rewriting it to get it into shape.

In what format do you like to read it through, e-reader, paper or the computer screen?

I like reading my first draft through on an e-reader as it gives me a sense of distance. The aim is to read it all the way through and make notes on parts that aren’t working particularly well. I’m reading for plot, structure and characterisation in that first read through – an overall impression of the story.

What happens now that the first draft is done?

Once I’ve completed the first draft and read it through I cut and paste the chapters and scenes into YWriter. They’re much easier to see at a glance that way, and you can drag chapters and scenes around and delete them at the click of a button. It makes re-structuring the novel much easier. Once I have the structure sorted I’ll go through the novel scene by scene and edit it until I’m happy with it. If there’s time before my deadline I’ll then print the whole thing out and read it again – out loud this time – and tweak areas that still need a bit of work.

Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.

You can find Cally on her Website, Twitter and Facebook.

The Lie.

The Lie high resI know your name’s not really Jane Hughes…

Jane Hughes has a loving partner, a job in an animal sanctuary and a tiny cottage in rural Wales. She’s happier than she’s ever been but her life is a lie. Jane Hughes does not really exist.

Five years earlier Jane and her then best friends went on holiday but what should have been the trip of a lifetime rapidly descended into a nightmare that claimed the lives of two of the women.

Jane has tried to put her past behind her but someone knows the truth about what happened. Someone who won’t stop until they’ve destroyed Jane and everything she loves…

“The Lie felt to me like a Black Narcissus for the Facebook generation, a clever exploration of how petty jealousies and misunderstandings can unravel even the tightest of friendships. Claustrophobic, tense and thrilling, a thrill-ride of a novel that keeps you guessing.” – Elizabeth Haynes

“The Lie is absolutely brilliant – The Beach, only darker, more thrilling and more tense. It’s the story of a twisted, distorted friendship. It’s a compelling, addictive and wonderfully written tale. Can’t recommend it enough.” – Louise Douglas

Emma Kavanagh – Hidden Blog Tour

Emma Kavanagh 2014 © Matthew JonesToday I hand the blog over to Emma Kavanagh as she stops off on her hectic, Falling, blog tour….

 

My Inspirations…

I often get asked where my ideas come from. It’s fair to say that those who ask this often do so with an air of wariness, as they wait for me to spill the secrets of my deeply dark mind. The truth is that I am not in fact a frustrated criminal (honest!).

That said, I do have a fascination with crime. I think it is a distinctly human property, to be so interested in the very things that can do us the most harm. I have always been interested in learning about the criminal mind, in exploring past crimes. What I tend to find is that within those true events will often lie the idea for a story.

Now, let me be clear – I have never, nor would I ever, lifted an incident from real life and turned it into a novel. That idea makes me distinctly uncomfortable. True crimes are not stories. They are events that have affected and, in all likelihood, traumatised the real people involved in them.

That said, my characters will often take inspiration from the dark deeds of others. What fascinates me is the why – taking a crime and looking beneath the surface of it to examine its impact on the people involved.

I read voraciously (or as voraciously as my 3 year old and 7 month old will allow). I know that some writers struggle to read when they are writing themselves, but for me it is critical. There is something about following the flow of another’s words that soothes me, pushes me to drive my writing on to another level.

There is something else about crime that serves as an eternal inspiration – that is the puzzle element. I think that is why police thrillers remain so popular. They have within them all the elements of a puzzle, testing your abilities to twist the pieces and figure out where they lie. For me as a writer, that is endlessly appealing – telling a story, but laying it out just so, so that the reader is taken on a journey of discovery.

Hidden

23346669HE’S WATCHING

A gunman is stalking the wards of a local hospital. He’s unidentified and dangerous, and has to be located. Urgently.

Police Firearms Officer Aden McCarthy is tasked with tracking him down. Still troubled by the shooting of a schoolboy, Aden is determined to make amends by finding the gunman—before it’s too late.

SHE’S WAITING

To psychologist Imogen, hospital should be a place of healing and safety—both for her, and her young niece who’s been recently admitted. She’s heard about the gunman, but he has little to do with her. Or has he?

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks…

As time ticks down, no one knows who the gunman’s next target will be. But he’s there. Hiding in plain sight. Far closer than anyone thinks…

Hidden Blog Tour

 

Monday Catch-Up

0007354492N-849x565I’m sorry I missed a few posts last week. I missed putting up Friday’s First Draft post and then at the weekend I missed Saturday’s #WeekendCoffeeshare where I’d tell you about my past week and also Sunday’s post where I’ve been posting the chapters of Shallow Waters.

I’ve actually got quite a lot to catch you up on and Saturday would have been a good place to have done most of it, so you’re going to have to bear with me today. Unfortunately, I was in A&E on Thursday evening and that threw everything out. The breakthrough pain I had was unbearable and the medications I had at home weren’t touching it. I had overdone it on Wednesday, though what you class as over-doing it and I now class as over-doing it, are two completely different things and I was severely paying for it. The hospital sorted me out but I needed to see my GP for a prescription on Saturday and it took some recovering from overall. All weekend in fact. So that was that.

Anyway, moaning over.

The Bite-sized interviews I started for the YouTube channel (you can find the first 4 here) are starting again. In fact, I did another one last Wednesday. Only when I played it back my audio wasn’t working – yet it was ok when we were talking live. So that has to be re-done. I also have others lined up. I’m getting a new laptop in a couple of weeks so what I think I’m going to do is put them all off until I’ve got that and start again then. So, if you enjoyed those interviews, don’t worry, they are returning.

I did another library talk last week which was great fun. It was with a book club and they were a pleasure to talk to, really engaging and enthusiastic as you’d expect from a book group meeting in a library. Lots of questions asked and one person had already read Shallow Waters, a couple of others ordered it through the library system and a couple were going to go home and order it from Amazon.

And speaking of Amazon, I took the decision last week to withdraw Shallow Waters from all the other platforms and leave it solely on Amazon and on Amazon Select because I wasn’t selling on the other platforms so I thought I would see what Select does for me. I’m only tied into it for 90 days. If I’m not happy with the decision I can always turn it around again.

That then leads us to Sunday’s post, which I also missed as I was ill, but where I have usually been posting chapters of Shallow Waters. I’m a little concerned that the content might not be suitable for a blog. Yes, for a crime novel where the reader can read the blurb before they pick it up and buy it and can put it down anytime they want, but to just throw it out into someone’s face when they might not be expecting it – if they come across the blog by accident that day for example – it could be a bit much. So I’m taking the decision to stop that particular series on a Sunday. I hope what I have posted so far has given you a taster of the novel.

And I think I’ve caught you up on everything!

Well, nearly, but we’ll leave the rest for another day :)

How has your week been?

 

 

Are You Periscoping?!

periscope-logo-1920-800x450Are you looking all blank-faced at your screen right now? Or are you aware of this new social app that has hit the iOS software via Twitter?

If not, let me explain it because I’ve only recently become aware due to the #whereIwrite hashtag on Twitter and I’m now a fully fledged fan of the app and I’m using it so I’d love you to join me.

The #whereIwrite hashtag is

“a global project started by the publisher Hachette, working with our friends at Twitter and Periscope, to celebrate writing and the places where the alchemy of creating a book happens.”

You can watch the videos of the authors who have taken part in this so far, Here.

Periscope is a live-streaming video app, and as you will have seen if you have looked at any of the above videos is it’s very versatile and social. It’s made by Twitter so if you download the app you get a list of your twitter friends and you can choose who you want to follow on the app. If you have alerts set up, your phone beeps at you when someone is streaming, you can look and see if you’re interested just by the title and watch or not. The video is left to view for 24 hours so if you’re busy, it is still there for you to watch later. If you’re the broadcaster there is an option to save it to your camera roll, so if you do want to upload it to YouTube as the #WhereIWrite authors are doing, you can.

There is also an option to privately stream to your followers or stream live publicly – as though you were tweeting. This morning I did my first Periscope with Alfie and his morning walk meeting his two dog friends and playing. It wasn’t a long stream. And that’s the thing, you can stream for as long or as short a time as you want.

I have watched a couple of good ones. One of my Twitter friends is Lauren, a journalist in London and she took a walk through China Town. As I’ve never been there, I found it really interesting. Another one I watched, which was fascinating was Phillip Schofield. Yes, I’m a fan! And yes he Periscopes! Yesterday he was showing Amanda Holden it just before the show This Morning started so we got to see the studio, behind the scenes, and the producer counting him down to get on set to start. He handed his phone to his producer to carry on and the producer held it up and filmed Phillip introducing the show and then gave it him back as it cut. It was brilliant. One thing Amanda said which Britain’s Got Talent fans will like is that she will now use it for behind the scenes stuff of the BGT show. So, there you go.

So now, who’s going to join me on Periscope?! :)

 

There’s a good post Here on Social Media Examiner which explain a lot of technical stuff on how to actually use it.

 

#IndieReCon The Place For Writers To Be!

A short time ago I joined the Alliance of Independent Authors having self-published Shallow Waters at the end of December last year. In that short time, I have found the community of people within the group to be friendly, open and incredibly helpful. Generous and giving of their time. No question too small or silly. (There’s a very active Facebook page.)

As well as having that place for its members to get together and talk about problems with uploading to platforms or whatever else they want to ask or say, ALLi, as they are known, work hard to make the independent author as regular a part of the publishing world as any other author.

One of the things they are doing this year is running IndieReCon. It is “three packed days of advice and education about self-publishing and reaching readers. PLUS this year: a live-streamed Indie Author Fringe Festival, from the London Book Fair (Book & Screen Week).

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The best news? IndieReCon is run by authors for authors, so it’s all free!”

So, not going to London Book Fair? Listening in to all the excitement on social media about it and wishing you were there? Well, this is something you can be a part of.

And from where I see it, is with the line-up they have, you don’t need to be an indie author to get something out of this, if you are a writer, there will be something you can glean. Just look at this line-up HERE and remember it’s easily available online and it’s free! I can’t copy and paste the whole line-up, it’s huge, but that link covers it all.

It does include;

  • Content Marketing 101: How Authors Can Be Smart and Strategic With Their Most Important Asset : JANE FRIEDMAN
  • 10 Million Sold and Counting: A No Holds Barred Q&A with BARBARA FREETHY and BELLA ANDRE
  • How to Make a Living with your Writing: JOANNA PENN
  • Literary Values in the Digital Age: REBECCA SWIFT
  • The Age of the Serial : SAMANTHA WARREN
  • Pinterest for Authors: Build your Brand with Pins & Boards : JAY ARTALE

Now I’ve only picked a few events to give you a flavour of the range of topics covered from the huge online line-up that can be found HERE with the times of events given in US and UK time-zones. There is something for everyone, no matter how you write and who you publish with or for. If you can’t make it to the London Book Fair, then why not join in with this and register HERE. It will be great! The hashtag is #IndieReCon if you’re on a Twitter event.

I’ll hopefully see you there! I’m really looking forward to the next three days!

 

(And if you’re on Twitter and this really isn’t your thing, you might want to mute that hashtag….)

 

Recently Read – Black Wood by SJI Holliday

Black Wood by SJI Holliday

Genre: Crime (Psychological)

23589025Something happened to Claire and Jo in Black Wood: something that left Claire paralysed and Jo with deep mental scars. But with Claire suffering memory loss and no evidence to be found, nobody believes Jo’s story. Twenty-three years later, a familiar face walks into the bookshop where Jo works, dredging up painful memories and rekindling her desire for vengeance. And at the same time, Sergeant Davie Gray is investigating a balaclava-clad man who is attacking women on a disused railway, shocking the sleepy village of Banktoun. But what is the connection between Jo’s visitor and the masked man? To catch the assailant, and to give Jo her long-awaited justice, Gray must unravel a tangled web of past secrets, broken friendship and tainted love. But can he crack the case before Jo finds herself with blood on her hands?

My thoughts:

As I mentioned last month when I was reading my way through as many of my NetGalley shelved books as I could, this month I am going to read as many friends, and books by people I know. This is the first of those such books. So take this review as slightly biased and I will try and just give it as factually as I can.

This is SJI Holliday’s debut novel and it’s a great start. It’s set in a fictional village in Scotland and between today’s current day chapters are interspersed chapters of the past where you catch glimpses of something dark and sinister from the woods many years past.

The current chapters are from the point of view of Jo as well as the third person point of view of other characters.

Jo…. she’s a strange one. Because it’s quite a dark story and it gets going straight away, you see the effects of past events and how the current situation affects her immediately and it isn’t a great picture, but what do you expect if you think about what she went through? It’s a novel with an already broken protagonist and that’s not an easy task to write, but Black Wood pulls it off. And to balance Jo out there was Sergeant Gray whose calm manner and easy going outlook I really enjoyed.

We watch as the already broken Jo reacts to the new arrival in the village pretty badly and are left guessing about the motives of everyone we meet as the novel progresses.

A dark novel of how events affect lives, with a new threat thrown in, and a great twist of the knife at the end.

With thanks to the author and publisher for my copy of the book.

Shallow Waters – Chapter 4

You can find the previous chapters Here. (This will never be completed on the blog.)

4

Phones were ringing off the hook and talk of a sandwich collection was at an almost raucous volume. My defrosting brain cells struggled to break through the noise.

The incident room was busy and space was tight. Coats were thrown over the backs of chairs. As well as the assigned investigating detectives, some uniformed officers had been drafted in to help with the immediate workload that faced us. I clung to the steaming mug of green tea in my hands trying to warm my fingers.

Along with my team, the investigation had the attention of the top brass. Detective Superintendent Catherine Walker, head of the Nottingham City division Major Crimes Unit, had been raised from her bed. She wore her hair in a sleek dark bob, immaculate, no matter what time of day it was. She stood tall and assured and she commanded respect. Next to Walker was my Chief Inspector Anthony Grey. He was a weasel-looking man with a narrow face, balding head and a tall frame. He was so slim any girl would be envious. As far as supervisors go he was amenable and he didn’t interfere with investigations. Grey was more of a paper shuffler.

A media strategy was required, so Claire Betts from the press office was also here. I liked Claire; she was a straight talker and great at getting what she needed from the media without selling her soul. Her talkative and amiable manner hid a shrewd brain that often ran rings around the press who took her at face value. She looked up from the paperwork she was reading and caught my eye. She gave an easy smile. I pushed the corners of my mouth up in response, envious of her energy and enthusiasm.

I felt cramped and rubbed my temples with one hand whilst inhaling the rising tea vapours in an attempt to ease the tension rampaging through my head and neck.

Grey moved to the front of the room and stood quietly. His silence demanded attention. He was about to give his pep talk. Make a show of support for the officers who would work this with little to no sleep for the first few days when evidence grabbing was at its most viable. He would say the usual comments about working hard, having the support of the command team and the jolly “get on with it troops!” pat on the back.

My phone vibrated in my jeans pocket, I pulled it up enough to see the screen. Dad. Conversations with him often went in the same familiar circles and those circles were often about my sister Zoe. Now wasn’t the time for this. I rejected the call and pushed the phone back down.

When the sandwich rumblings died down Grey spoke. “We have a dead child. We need to identify her and return her to her parents. Press attention will be high because of her age. They will be harsh and they will be critical. Keep yourselves sharp.”

No one moved.

“I’ve spoken with Jack Kidner who will hopefully conduct the post-mortem at eleven a.m. this morning. I believe Hannah is to attend that with Sally?” He looked at me. I nodded. Sally, one of the brightest and most dependable detectives on my team, blanched. Difficult to spot with her fair complexion, but I saw it. It was unusual. “Forensics still have the scene and will be there, I imagine, for some time. What do you have, Hannah?”

I put my cup on the desk. I was up.

“We have a lot to do. We need to check our missing persons database and liaise with the National Missing Persons Bureau in case this child is from another county. I want a team to canvas the area for CCTV in local establishments. Take it wide. Detailed house to house inquiries are needed. If people aren’t in when you knock, go back. I saw a lot of people peeping out of windows last night, so it’s possible someone could have seen her being dumped. I want a tip line set up and for Claire to prepare press releases to include the number. Someone knows who this girl is and someone holds information that relates to her death.” I had all ears.

“We need to check what time the restaurant closed and identify and locate all customers who ate there in the run up to closing. Most people pay by card in some way, shape or form nowadays, it’s rare anyone pays with cash, so that should make it an easier task. Someone may have seen something but not realised its importance.” My head throbbed. “The PM this morning will give us more and could help identify her. CSIs will hopefully give us something we can work with.” I looked at my team, Aaron and Sally along with Martin and Ross. It was grim. It always is with a child, but I knew them and they would work their arses off. “Make sure you get some food and hot drinks down you.”

The throbbing from my head hit my stomach with a nauseating roar. My next stop would be the mortuary.

Amazon UK   Amazon US

If We Were Having Coffee – A Week Of Highs For Being An Author

The #weekendcoffeeshare is the brainchild of PartTimeMonster. We sit down every weekend and share our week in a more informal, personal way than maybe the rest of our blog posts are written. Feel free to join in.

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If we were having coffee I’d say it’s been a few weeks since we sat down together and did this. The past couple of weekends has been a bit off, health-wise and I just couldn’t get a post together. I’d ask you how you are and what you’ve been up to over these missed weeks?

If were having coffee, I’d be drinking tea as usual and I’d tell you it’s been a mixed bag of news over these past couple of weeks, some of which I’ll leave for other posts, but this week, well this week, it’s all ended on quite the positive note and it’s all about being an author.

As a self-publishing author, I was absolutely thrilled at my mention in the publishing industries trade magazine The Bookseller, in the Independent Author Preview: March 2015. Shallow Waters was listed under Crime and Thrillers Here. I had no previous indication it was going to be listed. It’s not a review, just a listing. I have no idea how indie books are picked up on their radar for this feature, but I’m thrilled nonetheless.

I was then contacted by the Nottingham Post we set up a telephone interview. It was quite funny because I didn’t know what to expect and didn’t prepare in any way and in turn felt I rambled a bit too much, but the finished article is now in the Saturday paper and online HERE. The article’s author, Lynette Pinchess asked for a photograph to put with it. One where I was holding Shallow Waters. I didn’t have one. Start photographic session with 11-year-old son! Not a bad job to say he was itching to go back out to play and I hated posing.

Ebook cover

On a last note, due to a lovely sunny week here in the UK, I’ve dropped the price of Shallow Waters in a Spring sale. It’s 99p in the UK Amazon store and $1.47 in the US one. And as I’ve just looked, it has also now managed to hit one of the charts in the US Amazon store which I haven’t seen before. It’s number 69 in Murder! What a great end to my week.

 

 

So, another drink? Tell me more about your week….

What’s Your First Draft Like? – Graeme Cameron

I’m really excited to welcome today’s first draft author to the blog, especially as I reviewed his book, Normal, in February and have already classed it as one of my top reads of the year. Yes, today we have Graeme Cameron talking about his writing process. I also have a small exclusive at the end of this post, so keep reading!

IMG_6697In his email Graeme told me I could write what I wanted for his bio as he was rubbish at them, so I’ve simply lifted what he did write for his bio on his own website which is as follows:

Graeme Cameron is the author of almost three short stories, two country songs and literally dozens of angry emails, including such classics as This Doesn’t Taste Like Chicken, The Car You Sold Me Is On Fire, and the hilarious and moving Re: Restraining Order (I’m in your house LOL).

Graeme lives in Norfolk and has never worked as a police detective, ER doctor, crime reporter or forensic anthropologist.

 
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?

Talk, think, talk talk talk, think, think, talk. The inception of Normal was a fairly well-documented accident, but the plan for my second novel has very much evolved through a process of talking and listening and occasionally being snarled at by someone with a vast understanding of the themes I’m tackling and whom I can trust entirely to assess my innermost thoughts and tell me whether I’m being an idiot.

Do you have a set routine approaching it?

Yes. I have a deadline, and I casually pretend I’m going to meet it until it becomes glaringly obvious that I’m not, and then I panic.

 Pen and paper or straight to the  keyboard?

Straight to keyboard. If I’ve started  writing, it’s either because I know exactly  what I need to write, or I have no idea and  am just winging it. Either way, scribbled  notes don’t really work for me.

 

The first page of the first draft of the next book!
The first page of the first draft of the next book!

How important is research to you?

I write within real-world locations and settings, so for me it’s important to be accurate with details. Not to throw every single one of them into the manuscript, but to understand them thoroughly enough not to undermine the story with silly errors that render scenes unrealistic or even impossible. I think if a setting or situation is recognisably true to life, and the characters’ interactions with it are authentic, then whatever else they get up to will be that much more believable too.

How do you go about researching?

The internet makes simple fact-checking easy, which sounds very lazy, but what I mean is it makes it easy to track down the things and places and people you need to hold and visit and talk to in order to better understand the story.

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How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?

In my head. Which means I forget most of it.

 

Tell us how that first draft takes shape?

Slowly, from the beginning, as accurately as possible. I find it hard to press Save on anything unless I think I’ve done a good job of it, so I proceed as though I’ve only got one shot at getting it right. That way hopefully I don’t have to write it another six times, because God knows I haven’t got the patience for that!

Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?

No, just peace and quiet. I’m far too easily distracted to be able to listen to music or sit by a window or Oooh look, a button!

Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?

I’m inclined to say I need to be left alone and not have any internet access or ringing phones or concept of a world outside these three square feet, but actually I need those distractions in order to keep my brain from overheating. If I come to a full stop and have no idea of the following capital letter, it’s time to look at something else!

What does your work space look like?

Currently it’s a small corner of my bedroom, with a desk and a laptop and a couple of toys to fiddle with. And a bed onto which I regularly tip out of my chair and sleep in my clothes.

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Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?

As I go, as above.

I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?

I write chapters separately, aim to average about 2500 words each, and whilst I do have a daily word count target, today is another day on which it’s gone up, so I tend to just write as much as I can, when I can.

So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?

Well, Normal took about a year, but it was verging on submittable when I typed ‘The End.’

In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?

Computer screen works for me. That way, I can correct anything on the spot, rather than scribbling notes on it that I won’t understand in an hour. Which, trust me, happens.

What happens now that first draft is done?

Well, if all’s gone to plan, I send it off to my editor and hope she doesn’t make me do it all again!

Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.

You can find Graeme on his website, Twitter and Facebook.

Normal

23214378“The truth is I hurt people. It’s what I do. It’s all I do. It’s all I’ve ever done.”

He lives in your community, in a nice house with a well-tended garden. He shops in your grocery store, bumping shoulders with you and apologizing with a smile. He drives beside you on the highway, politely waving you into the lane ahead of him.

What you don’t know is that he has an elaborate cage built into a secret basement under his garage. And the food that he’s carefully shopping for is to feed a young woman he’s holding there against her will—one in a string of many, unaware of the fate that awaits her.

This is how it’s been for a long time. It’s normal… and it works. Perfectly.

Then he meets the checkout girl from the 24-hour grocery. And now the plan, the hunts, the room… the others. He doesn’t need any of them anymore. He needs only her. But just as he decides to go straight, the police start to close in. He might be able to cover his tracks, except for one small problem—he still has someone trapped in his garage.

Discovering his humanity couldn’t have come at a worse time.


This post has been a part of the Normal blog tour and you can find Graeme on the following blogs listed below. Yesterday he was on Raven Crime Reads and today he is also on Shotsmag.

Normal_BlogTourBanner

 

And now the exclusive? Graeme Cameron has agreed to do a bite-sized interview with me! So keep a look out for that. I can’t wait!

Clean Reader – Clean Crime?

Screenshots - Clean Reader.clipularThere’s been a lot of furore recently about the new app that is about – Clean Reader. It gives the reader of an electronic book the ability to change words they don’t like, into less “offensive” words. There are three levels to Clean Reader. Clean, Really clean and Squeaky clean. Clean basically blocks out the F word and you move on up from there depending on your level of word offence or who you are giving the book to read – children is the example.

The furore has mostly been about the fact that this app has changed the words written by the author. That the author intended that specific word to be in the text and meaning could be changed. The makers of Clean Reader have this to say on the matter of copyright.

Is Clean Reader legal or does it break copyright law?

We’ve discussed this with several lawyers and they have all agreed that Clean Reader does not violate copyright law because it doesn’t make changes to the file containing the book.  All Clean Reader does is change the way the content is displayed on the screen.  The user has the option of turning off the profanity filtering tool if desired.  No changes are made to the original book the user downloads when they buy a book.

So there’s no issue for them there. Though obviously a lot of authors are still upset. Their books are being changed in the reading.

The reason for this post is something came into my head today and it’s something I haven’t heard mentioned about the app or the reasons for its making. The app owners created it because one of their children came home from school upset because they were enjoying a book but it had had a swear word in it, so they created Clean Reader.

But…

the funny thing is, on the Clean Reader site is a screenshot for users and potential users to see how it works and this is the shot.

Screenshots - Clean Reader.clipular (1)

See anything funny about it?

That nasty awful word has disappeared and the readers sensibilities are all nicely intact.

Sensibilities intact? But they’re blood thirsty, murder loving, crime genre reading fans. “The man carried about him an air of violence like a volcano about to erupt”   “I’ll gut you like a fish-”  It sounds like it could be a violently graphic book.

Shallow Waters only has the F word in it a handful of times. But it’s not always easy reading and there’s nothing Clean Reader is going to help you out with. I lay the ground work and the reader gets to picture the rest.

It was just a thought I had this morning….

What do you think of the new app?