Tell us about your book (what’s the sales pitch?)
A tsunami on a space station.
An explosion with no trace of the bomber.
Cyber-security expert Sebastian knows evidence doesn’t magically disappear, yet when he and his colleague Aryx, a disabled ex-marine, travel the galaxy to find the cause, there seems to be no other explanation.
Can they unravel the mystery before his family, home, and an entire race succumbs to an ancient foe?
Synthesis:Weave is the first book in a trilogy with an unusual blend of science fiction, space opera and magic realism.
If you could be a character in the book who would you be and why?
I’d want to be Sebastian, one of the main characters – his life follows the pattern many people dream of, with their work suddenly taking them on a new and exciting path. He escapes the restrictions of a fixed work schedule for something more dynamic, and gets to explore exotic new places. He also uncovers a mystery that turns his world upside-down, but in a positive way, and while disruptive to them, gets to take his closest friends along for the ride. Those are all things that I really want to do (maybe not by leaving the planet!)
What did you learn about writing by writing this book?
Virtually everything I know about writing! One of the most important things was not to overdo it and not to show off what you know, no matter how clever you think it is. Story comes first.
Do you have a set writing process, if so what is it?
I take a lot of random notes as I have ideas for a story. Once I’ve got enough notes for scenes and events, I try to cluster them together (quite often on strips of paper) and arrange them into threads. It can be a struggle to get them to fit the three act story structure at times, but I find it’s the best way. After that, I start inserting things between plot points where I think they might cause the character problems (and conflict), then I start my first draft.
I tend to write the first draft in one go and then go back over editing it three or four times. Recently, I’ve started pausing after an act, going back over for an edit, then continuing the first draft’s next act – it helps to keep the story fresher than it would going through the entire book in one go.
I write in plain text files, not using Word or other ‘heavy’ software, so I can write on any device. It’s formatted with LaTeX markup, too, so testing what it’s going to look like in a novel is as simple as pressing ‘build’ in the software I use, and it spits out a nice print-formatted pdf. When I’m happy with it, my editor gets it and we collaborate with tracked changes to get it up to scratch before I finalise it ready for publishing.
What’s one question you think would be really fun to answer, but has never been asked of you?
Where do you get the ideas for your locations? I’d then drag them all over the countryside, pointing out the weird signs and strange bits of terrain I’d come across.
What made you choose to write your book as SciFi?
From the previous answer, a weird road sign for a place called Sollers Hope. It sounded like a far-off mining colony. That coupled with having recently re-watched Babylon 5 and thinking, “I’d like to write a book, something like Babylon 5.” So I was pretty much locked into it from that point.
How much research did you do before writing the book and how did you go about it?
On the topics I wrote about, almost none, since I was drawing from experience and knowledge I’d picked up from years of being interested in science. The only thing I researched was how to write a novel – a slow process to do while writing. Every draft improved a different facet as I studied books on the craft.
Do you remember the first story you told? What was it?
I think I wrote something based on a computer game, around age 11. I seemed to be quite drawn to fleshing out the worlds in old computer games at the time, but never really had a clue how to write.
What are you reading? Who do you think we should be reading (apart from you!)?
I started reading Pratchett’s Discworld novels – yes, I’m so late to the party everyone got drunk and already went home. If you haven’t read any of his novels, you must, especially if you think writing has to be incredibly serious and strict.
In one sentence what’s your best piece of advice for writers?
If you ever feel like you’re getting writer’s block, make a change – change writing medium; write a flow chart of what could happen next with wildly varying options and pick the path with most conflict; change what you think you know about the story.