Ho Ho Homework
I have spent this last weekend binge-watching Christmas movies instead of writing diligently as a good author should. Sigh. Alas, it's that time of year when I get to sip egg-nog on the couch and pretend that I am not in the middle of an Australian summer. I like to pretend I'm tucked up in a corner of a far-away homestead with snow on the roof, and a roaring fireplace. Instead, it's roaring hot outside and the closest I have to snow is the ice sitting in my freezer. But, it does give me time to get some of my writing homework done. Theoretically. So this week I have set the goal to focus on my writing and ignore those pesky Santa stories. Perhaps I should write myself a Dear Writer letter instead of Dear Santa this year? I already know what I would ask for - more time! So how do other authors focus? Let's have a chat with Jesse and Mark and see what they do.
This month's authors:
Jesse has a self-confessed tonne of books he has written, so I was keen to find out how he manages:
What appeals to you about writing YA books?
They have a freshness and an immediacy to them. Teens tend to think in the now. I try to capture that “now” moment. As well, with fantasy, I can make up whatever world(s) I want, whatever powers or rules or laws I want, and all I have to do is to be consistent. No deus ex machina for me! Also, with YA, certain issues such as racism, fat-shaming, war, inequality, sexual orientation, and so on, can be addressed. A lot of adult novels slough those issues off. I won’t. If I feel that something needs to be examined, I’ll say so.
As a traveler and moving from Canada to Japan, do you think that this experience has helped you with your writing?
It really hasn’t affected me one way or the other. I suppose, as a foreigner here, people ignore the middle-aged white dude scribbling notes on napkins in coffee shops and muttering to himself (okay, I don’t mutter). That gives me the freedom to do what I want, but if I were living in Canada, I’d be doing the same thing: writing and keeping on!
With your future books, do you plan these out? What method do you like to use?
I originally started as a pantser, writing stuff on the fly, but that didn’t work out very well. Nowadays, I make a basic outline for each chapter, write out what’s going to happen or may happen, put in some dialogue if I can, and I always—ALWAYS—try to leave the chapter on a mini-cliffhanger at the end…that makes the reader think, “What happens next?” Everything is subject to change, though. I simply follow the basics and then build the base from there.
You have authored many books, do you set yourself goals for writing so many or do you just write what appeals at the time?
I don’t set goals about writing X number of books. When I get an idea, I run with it. I do, however, set myself a goal to write every day (unless I’m sick) and get a certain number of words down. If I don’t get that goal—usually, it’s about five or six thousand words a day—I don’t stress over it. I just keep writing. Also, people tend to freak out when I say “five or six thousand”—and that’s what I mean. It isn’t perfect prose; it’s not meant to be. It’s simply me getting my thoughts down. Editing comes later, but you can’t edit an empty page! Jesse loves to interact with his readers via Facebook. You can find him on : https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100007640056961 I hope you can take a moment to support him, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
Mark loves to write comedy, and I love to read it and it seems to be in every movie I watch lately, so I asked him to talk with me about his work:
What is the hardest part of writing comedy or humor into your work?
Trying to make it accessible to as many people as possible. I write what’s funny to me, but it’s not going to be funny to everyone, plus you have to try to appeal to American humor as well as British. Being a Brit, I have to make sure that I keep ‘English centric’ references to an absolute minimum. I mean, people can Google stuff these days, but you don’t want to be doing that every five seconds. Writing comedy books, I try to make sure there ‘s a big laugh on every page and I’m confident my debut Swiped Out has achieved that!
When did you start writing and what inspired you to?
I started writing little comedy sketches about 20 years ago and managed to get a few on TV. I’ve always loved stand up, so finally got around to giving it a go in 2007 and trod the boards on the UK stand up circuit for about 10 years, becoming a finalist in major competitions, which spurred me on until I just got too old to be traveling the country 5 nights a week, plus the money was getting worse and worse and I started to do way more voiceover work. I had done a show in Edinburgh about online dating and decided to write a book about it, which I pitched to Unbound, who loved it, but sadly just couldn’t crowdfund the money, so put it on the back burner for a while.
Then I started a podcast called Best in Galaxy in 2016, which turned into a full-on sitcom. My career before was sound design, so was able to really go to town on the sound effects. After the 3rd season, I decided to turn it into a trilogy of novels and audiobooks and the first one is out on December 8th this year. I pitched it to many a literary agent and got some amazing feedback, but they all said the same thing, that nobody wants to take a risk on sci-fi comedy, so I set up PP3 Publishing and off I went to do it all myself!
If you had one piece of advice for other authors, what would it be?
Always write what you want to and don’t listen to anyone else that tries to steer you into writing things that you’re not comfortable with. People have a sixth sense that it’s not coming from the heart and as cheesy as it sounds, you just won’t connect with readers. I’ve chosen to go it alone, as opposed to traditional publishing, but it’s not for everyone. I thought ‘why should I be at the mercy of a literary agent making me wait for 3 months for a reply when I can just do it myself?’ I learned how to market a book, publish a book and am still working it out as I’m fairly new, but it feels so good to be in control of your own destiny. I managed to find an incredible editor and some amazing cover designers and I cannot stress how important that is. If you’re self-publishing and can only afford 2 things – make sure it’s those!
Where is your favorite place to write and why?
I like to be out and about when I write, so I like a coffee shop where I can park up and have the odd people-watching break for a bit of inspiration. I used to live in Chiswick in West London and wrote the whole of the first incarnation of Swiped Out in a beautiful coffee shop with amazing leather sofas. I just stayed there from 9-5 and got stuff done. I can’t write at home, there are just too many distractions.
Mark has an Instagram account for his little boutique publishing outlet called PP3 Publishing (@pp3publishing), plus he has a separate one for Best in Galaxy (@bestingalaxy). Best in Galaxy is going to be a fully interactive novel, where you can email the characters and even apply for a job at the baddies’ base! He's set up a website for that at www.galaxykillergalaxybase42.org which is fully functional already and ready for the big release in December!
I hope you can take a moment to support him by checking out his page, and I extend my thanks for being interviewed!
I wish to thank you for taking the time to read and engage with me! Happy reading everyone! VK Tritschler