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12 Books in 12 Months

writing books and blogging about it

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victormcglynn

A Shocking Confession

The Rogue Verbumancer strikes again!  To find out more about what he’s doing when he isn’t asking me questions, follow him on Twitter @Glempy or read his blog.

Since you’ve been writing for so long there must no be one character you’ve created who now stands atop a mountain made from the corpses of his fellows screaming “Look at me! I am the best! I have conquered you lesser creations and made you unto nought but dust and memories!”. That is to say: of all the characters you’ve written about over the years which one holds that special place in your heart as “the favorite”? And what is it about them that makes them so special?

Is it really bad to admit I can’t remember that many of my characters?!  9 out of 10 times I write a story I put in on my blog (or in a little newsletter for my friends at school before that was an option… I was a cool kid) and then I forget most of the details.  I didn’t even print out copies of those older ones for myself, which was clearly an oversight.  They’ll be worth money some day!

To add insult to injury, I think at the moment my favourite characters might be some I haven’t technically written yet, unless you count a few pages scrawled out on loose paper that have since been lost!  They are going to be in July’s book, which is for kids, and they’ve been growing in my brain for a few years now.  Their names are Amelia Trousers and Snooky Jim – what’s not to love?!

I suspect that the more time you spend with a character, whether they’re loitering in the back of your mind or there on the page, the more you get to like them. That would explain why a lot of the ones I’ve come up with in the past have been banished to the misty watercolour corners of my mind – I didn’t start writing full novels, requiring large amounts of concentrated attention, till last year.  I mean, I started a couple (as you do), but never really got very far.

The first novel I began (she said, tangentially) was based around an essay I had to do for Religious Education when I was about 13.  We were asked to write creation myths for different countries from the perspective of the deity and I quite liked that notion.  The exercise stayed with me and a few years later a book started to grow out of the idea.

It was a fantasy thing that began with what I thought at the time was a pure dead original creation story, although now I have reservations on that score…  There were four gods – well, two gods and two goddesses, I think – and they represented the elements.  I think the plot was that one of them wanted to be mortal and the others weren’t happy about it, so she ran away.

I know I named a couple of them after classical names for the winds – googling it I’m thinking maybe it was the male gods I did that for because Boreas rings a bell… that tells you everything about how much they stayed with me, doesn’t it?!  But actually I still think there might be something in that story.  There’s a lot to be said for creating your own world to play with.

I don’t just forget characters out of hand – that would be churlish in the extreme.  I don’t have one favourite, though!  I still have a lot of time for the cast of Torchwood:Dundee, which was a spoof (fairly obvious of what) that myself and a couple of other people came up with in uni around 2007.  I had particular fondness for Shaktar, who was our Tosh character, and Teuchter, who was our Ianto equivalent.  I wrote one of the stories that decided their characterisation and both of them were quite tragically funny but generally useless people.

In terms of 12 Books, I’m quite fond of Victor McGlynn, my Western protagonist.  Overall this year I’ve spent more time thinking about him than some of the others, partly because the western was one of the genres I was less confident about, and I think he’s perhaps a more considered character as a result.  The downside to that was that he was much slower to write, as I felt I owed it to him to get down things he would definitely say and do – there’s a lot less stream of consciousness blethering in that book (with the result that it’s the smallest word count so far).  I’ve no idea whether he’ll appeal to anyone else, but I like him!

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Which One Will You Choose..?

It’s the third day of questions courtesy of Elaine from the Dreams and Whispers Blog, and she asks something I’ve never really thought about before… to choose which of my children I love the most!

Today’s question is about the characters in your books. For me as a reader, I find that interesting characters can really make a book brilliant. With you being on your fifth book now, you must have invented and thought about a fair few people, so which of them stand out the most – which two have been your favourite and least favourite so far?

I agree with you that characterisation can make or break a book.  Good characters stay with you and you want to find out more about them – this is presumably why so many authors write in series.  Whereas bad ones can make it difficult to carry on reading (although I’m pretty tenacious – it’s rare that I don’t drag my way kicking and screaming to the end of a book).

So far my favourite character is probably Caligula, if I can legitimately claim him as a character!  I enjoyed trying to get into his mind and second guessing why he did the crazy things that he was meant to have done – that’s the revisionist historian in me trying to come out, I think.  The sources on Caligula are fantastically biased but it makes for interesting reading.

I have a lot of affection for Victor McGlynn as well – he was the main character in the Western and I gave him quite a rough time of it with a pretty sad back story and a not amazing here and now, but he coped with dignity!  I am also really looking forward to writing the main characters in my kids’ book in July, because I’ve been developing them in my head for about two years.

There aren’t any characters I haven’t enjoyed writing at all, but I suppose my least favourite is Jennifer, the protagonist of the last book.  This is partly because I swithered an awful lot over how to write her – this has been the most difficult book so far.

I was trying to write her as a stroppy teenager but I think I may have gone a bit overboard with her lack of empathy and self involvement, so I’ll have to sort that out when I go back to edit it!  Think I should make her a bit more likeable!  Although having said that, Stephanie Meyer didn’t bother making Bella likeable and she did alright.  Maybe I’ll just leave it….

A Link and a #WIP

Here is a piece of flash fiction you should read, particularly if you are a fan of fine literature.

And here is a snippet of what I have written today:

We sat like that for what seemed like hours – although I suspect it was only twenty minutes – before Cookie bounded in from his bath completely starkers.

“COOK,” I bellowed, mortified, “pit some claithes on!”

Baffled, he looked down at himself, but even then the realisation of what was wrong took a while to dawn on him.

Then he registered Mhairi, and all at once he seemed to understand.

“Good day,” he said to her with a polite bow. “You must be Mhairi.  Will you excuse me for a moment?  I appear to have forgotten my clothes.”

In case this needs explaining: Cookie is an old pal of Victor’s who is losing it a bit, and has run away from the nursing home his daughter stuck him in.

#WIP – Tandy

I looked around for a phone, but couldn’t see one anywhere.  It looked like I’d have to go all the way back down to the concierge’s office and call for help from there… but I didn’t fancy waiting around and having to admit that I’d lied to him in order to get up here.  Equally I didn’t want to keep up the pretense to the authorities, and wind up organizing a stranger’s funeral.

I turned away from Mrs Kerr and moved towards the doorway, when I thought I heard a door close.

“Wayne?” I said, “that you, son?”

“Wayne’s gone,” came a voice, as the door opposite this one creaked open.  “Mum kicked him out weeks ago and we’ve never seen him since.”

The voice belonged to a small girl, very skinny, who was clad in a ballerina tutu, pyjama bottoms, and a denim jacket.  Her hair hung lank about her shoulders and her face wore the remains of her last meal – which looked like it might’ve been chocolate and baked beans.

“And how long’s your mum been like that?”  I asked.

“Three days,” the girl replied.  “She gets like this, sometimes.  She’ll wake up soon though.”

#WIP – The Highrises

With no idea of how far up flat 159 would be, I pressed the button for the top floor and waited.  It took a few moments for the lift to creak into life, and when it did there was a horrible crunching of gears before it juddered asthmatically upwards.  I’d never been more grateful to live in a bungalow.

#WIP – Mhairi Mclennan

“It’s they kids,” she stated flatly.

I wondered whether Mhairi Mclennan could read minds.  It wouldn’t surprise me if she could.  Folk from up north are always more magical, I’ve noticed.

“I’ve seen them outside your house, throwing things,” she explained when I didn’t respond.  “They target me, too.  Ring the doorbell and run away.  Put things through my letterbox.”

She paused.

“Nasty things.”

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