You couldn’t stop me if you tried.
Okay, before someone steps up with a big CHALLENGE ACCEPTED shirt and cuts off my fingers, there are probablyways you could stop me. Let’s not go down that road.
I have a current plan to release a new title about once a year. A lot depends on the title, and how much work’s needed. For example, Night’s Favour is about 108,000 words, give or take, and I know how long that took to write. Upgrade is looking to be more like 150,000 words.
The complexity ramps up. I look at books like REAMDE by Stephenson, and I’m not quite sure how he does it, to keep coherence throughout. I’m sure Stephenson has a brain the size of Mars, but still, the editing process must belegendary.
That aside, I have four more books to be released about one-a-year to make a five-for-five plan. I’ve got a few people asking for a sequel to Night’s Favour, and one of those books is that sequel — you’ll get your story, to find out where Val and Danny go, what John does with his life, where Carlisle ends up. One of them will be a sequel toUpgrade. I don’t want to say too much about that, as it’ll spoil the surprise, except to say that I plan to deliverUpgrade in a full complete story when it’s done. It’ll stand alone without a sequel: the tale will be complete, and you’ll be able to choose — as with Night’s Favour — whether you want to dip a toe into the sequel.
The fifth book is a new thing for me — it’ll be my first book with a female lead. This one is going to be the hardest one of them all to write, because (being a male human) I don’t easily understand what life’s like to be a woman. I hope the book doesn’t suck.
What else do you do to make money, other than write? It is rare today for writers to be full time…
I used to say that I played piano in a whorehouse, because it was more honourable than my actual job, until someone asked me to play a tune.
I can’t play the piano.
“Something in computers,” is my usual answer. I work for the government, with the usual bunch of Top Men*, trying to help make realistic investment planning advice in information systems, along with planning for disruptive innovation.
It’s a little less awesome than it sounds.
Totally, it pays the bills, and pays quite well. But the skills aren’t easily transferrable: it’s not like all that business writing maps to a page of character-driven storytelling. And the biggest challenge is keeping my head straight, my creativity on tap, to generate good stories.
Mostly what I want to do when I get home is drink. That’s not great for creativity.
I’d love a job where I could work part-time, a couple days a week. I only need so much money to survive, and I’d much rather write — even if it pays poorly — most of the time. It’s nice to dream.
What other jobs have you had in your life?
For a few years I worked as a consultant. That’s kind of interesting, if you don’t mind having your brain fried on a sort of hourly basis.
The way I pitch consulting is a bit like this: imagine you’re walking on a tightrope. You’ve got to get to the other end, and someone’s shooting at you. Along the way, someone sets fire to the rope, and it’s about to break. You, and only you, have the skills to repair that rope.
And you can’t walk a tightrope.
That’s kind of what it’s like. It’s exciting! But it’s not something I can handle for more than two or three years at a throw. I wouldn’t mind doing more of it, but again, in brief spurts.
If you could study any subject at university what would you pick?
I’ve thought about this a surprising amount. It’s one of the things I’d like to do: when I retire, spend the rest of my days at a university learning stuff because it’s cool, not because it’s something to monetise.
My early answer would have been Philosophy, but now I think it’d be Religion. Most of the things I find interesting are about people and how they work, and much of the way the world is today is about what people believe, and have believed, throughout history. Understanding how all that fits together — or at least getting a bit of insight into it, if not the whole thing — would be a lot of fun.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
It might be somewhere mediterranean. I loved Italy, the people, the food, the climate. There’s not much to not like about the place, except for serious things like the economy and the government.
Failing that, somewhere quiet. It’d be nice to have a house on the edge of a remote lake, a fridge of beer and a satellite uplink, to spend my days how I choose. I’d write, and probably fish a little. I never catch anything, but I don’t think that’s why people go fishing.
How do you write – lap top, pen, paper, in bed, at a desk?
When I was starting out in this gig, I spent some time working out what worked best for me. You know, there’s some people out there with strong views. I read a book once that said that anyone who didn’t use Word to write their work was some kind of imbecile.
I guess that’s a view.
Me, I’ve got nothing against Word, but I figure you’ve got to take your own steps to work this thing through. Where I ended up was a sort of amalgam: I do my primary production on a laptop, usually at my desk in my sanctum sanctorum, or at a local cafe. I always need some kind of network connection, which is easy at home, but I’ve got a good data plan on my phone so I can tether wherever I might find myself with an urge to scribe.
For example, I’m writing this in a cafe right now, using the Internet to make sure my use of “scribe” isn’t horrendous. Mirriam-Webster supports my use of the word as an intransitive verb! Take it home.
I don’t write in bed. Bed’s for … other stuff.
Tech aside, I also have a notebook — I use that for freeform ideas, scribbles, plot thoughts. I find that my mind is most nimble with a pen in my hand, and I have a strong desire to get one of the walls of my sanctum sanctorumconverted to a chalk board.
I take my phone everywhere, and take copious photos and notes of everything. Most of these make it straight to the trash, but I’ve grabbed quite a few useful quotes, lines, and photos of people and things for places and outlines. As a writer, much of what we do is creative, but I feel there’s a tremendous amount that is recording and observing the world and people around us. Our ability to mulch it, synthesise it, and then make it real again is what makes us better at our craft.
Software? I have a deep and long-standing love affair with Scrivener, and a newer hotbed romance with Scapple (both from the same company). I haven’t found anything that equals Scriveners’ ability to work with words yet, and if I could have it installed on my office computer I’d do it in a flash. I get that people like Word as well, and I can work within that, but really, anything works in a pinch. Chunks of Night’s Favour were written in Notepad.
Where do you get support from? Do you have friends in the industry?
There’s a posse, sure.
I’m not sure if I’d call them “the industry,” but one of my close friends works as an editor. She introduced me to a now mutual friend, who runs the speculative fiction publishing house Steam Press (who you should check out, because they’re doing things no one else is).
And there’s my writing homies — people I’ve met through writing, or have known for ages and discovered they’re closet writers too. I have a writing group, which is awesome, we meet monthly over coffee and cake and talk about aliens and brain viruses. Or, sometimes, their kids.
I find it hard to differentiate some of those categories.
Aside from the people who practice The Craft™, I have a group of friends who bend over backwards for me. They are always willing to talk about ideas and offer advice, even when I don’t take it — which astounds me, that they deal with that without reservation. It’d piss me off if I kept giving advice to someone and they didn’t take it, which probably makes my friends better people than me. Or just more patient.
How much sleep do you need to be your best?
Somewhere in the ballpark of six or seven hours, depending on the day before.
It’s an odd day when I’ll sleep for eight hours. That’d be a sign that I’ve been infected with some kind of parasite or soul worm, and putting me in a box and returning to sender would be the best policy.
Less than five hours, and The Beast comes out. The Beast isn’t very articulate, has trouble remembering nouns, and gets angry, but without the endearing qualities of The Hulk.
Is there anyone you’d like to acknowledge and thank for their support?
Easiest question by far. My fiancé, Rae. She’s amazing.
Yeah, I know we’re supposed to say that, but there’s a lot of ways you can measure this objectively. I don’t know — how many people do you know who will help you to the point of putting your life and dreams before theirs?
It’d be a short list, I can guarantee you that.
I don’t know if I’d be able to do this without her. There’s a lot of incidental things that go along in life, whether you’re a writer or not, and I can absolutely guarantee she’s got my back in all things. But from a writing perspective, she talks with me tirelessly about my work — even I get bored talking about it sometimes.
This is apparently weird. I’ve talked to some of my “writing friends” whose partners are antagonistic about this weird, time-wasting pursuit they do, or are ambivalent about it, treating it as some sort of cute fad.
Fuck that noise. Rae believes in me and my dreams, and helps them to become real.
Every writer has their own idea of what a successful career in writing is, what does success in writing look like to you?
It’d be nice to be financially successful, sure, and I’ll cover that one off first. To me, I’d be super happy making even a third of my current income so I could “retire” from a day job and work full time. That’s a firm metric, easily measurable. Am I making X dollars per year? Yes? Quit your job! No? Keep writing.
The real form of success that I hadn’t considered until it happened was this: that people thought what you wrote was good. That they liked it. They say they couldn’t put it down, and ask when the movie is coming out. That it reminded them of Dean Koontz, Jim Butcher, whoever — that it reminded them of someone’s work they loved.
That kind of success can’t be bought or paid for, and it blew my mind. That alone would keep me writing until the end of time. That something that I wrote made someone else out there happy? That’s what makes it worthwhile, and when I saw those comments start to come in, it was a measure of success I hadn’t expected or planned on.
It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?
My marketing campaign, such as it is, is about reviews. I think people attach well to reviews, and having quality reviews is vital.
By quality, I mean both good and bad. The truth of it is, Night’s Favour is not in the same genre as Anne of Green Gables, sad as that may sound. They are not the same by any measure, except that they are both written using the language commonly known as English.
Having a 2-star review from someone who’s read AoGG, but who explains why — that Night’s Favour was too violent for them, that they didn’t enjoy the fact that it’s got a werewolf in it — that’s valuable. I don’t want people to have a shitty time with the book because it’s not what they expected.
By the same token, a 4-star review from someone who says they read Koontz and that the style is very similar — that is gold. It helps people hone down: do they also like Koontz? Is it worth giving this a shot?
The challenge here is quality — quite a few people are willing to write a review, but the number of useful statements that help you understand what they’d normally go for can be low. As a reader shopping on Amazon or whatever, I find the best reviews give me context.
For example, doing a book tour is something I’m hoping will be highly useful — that a group of people with similar tastes will enjoy the work, and tell people about it.
Valentine’s an ordinary guy with ordinary problems. His boss is an asshole. He’s an alcoholic. And he’s getting that middle age spread just a bit too early. One night — the one night he can’t remember — changes everything. What happened at the popular downtown bar, The Elephant Blues? Why is Biomne, the largest pharmaceutical company in the world, so interested in him — and the virus he carries? How is he getting stronger, faster, and more fit? And what’s the connection between Valentine and the criminally insane Russian, Volk?
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Action, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Rating – R16
More details about the author