Blog Chain: All the Things You Are

Thanks to Chris Beckett – Arthur C Clarke aware winning author of Dark Eden and too many excellent short stories – I’m a link in a chain. The idea is that writers answer four questions on their blog and then nominate one or two other writers to do the same thing. You can see Chris’s answers here.

And here are mine:

What am I working on?

I’m just completing Cosmompolitan Predators! for Aethernet Magazine, after which I’ll begin Dream Paris, the followup to Dream London. I’m also working on a series of stories set in the Recursion universe, the first of which will be appearing in print soon. And lastly, Penrose 3 continues its slow progress towards completion

How does my work differ from others in its genre?

How does it differ? I must admit, I’m more fascinated by the similarities. What is it about a genre that means you can take two very different works like, for example, the Foundation Trilogy and The Handmaid’s Tale and say that yes, these are both SF (even if one of the authors may claim otherwise… ).

As for differences? I don’t write heroes, I tend not to write competent people. I’ve always been struck by a line in a Pulp song “Do you want to see how common people fail?”. Golden age SF featured competent scientists and engineers solving problems. Those were great stories, but the protagonists never struck me as being particularly authentic or representative.

There are problems to be solved in my stories, there is (I hope) fascinating technology, but the protagonists don’t understand how things work, there are no easy answers. I don’t write about sewer operators saving the Earth, I write about how groups of people make a difference, sometimes better, sometimes worse.

Why do I write what I do?

Because that’s the way my mind works. I get ideas all the time and I write them down to be used later, but every so often one idea collides with another and I suddenly get really excited and I just have to begin writing.

How much of the path of a book is made up, and how much is fixed by my experience and personality? I feel as if I’m creating when I write, but often when I rewrite I think of a good idea and I include it, only to find a few pages later that I’d already done that on the first draft.

I think that a lot of writing is just improvising around a well established series of chords. To take a Jazz metaphor, we’re all just blowing to “All The Things You Are”.

How does my writing process work?

Basically, I write something every day. I write down ideas, I write down scenes, I write down conversations I’ve overheard on the tram and then I keep redrafting. I’m always writing in time snatched between other responsibilities, but I still need to book in longer stretches when I can draw things together undisturbed.

If you’re interested, there’s lots more on my writing process here on my blog.

And so that’s me done. Here are the next links in the chain, two excellent but very different writers at two very different stages in their careers:

Philip Palmer is a screenwriter, radio dramatist, novelist and producer. His screen credits include THE MANY LIVES OF ALBERT WALKER and THE BILL. For radio his plays include THE KING’S COINER, BLAME, and THE FAERIE QUEENE. As a writer of SF novels he is responsible for considerable galactic carnage; his five published books are DEBATABLE SPACE, RED CLAW, VERSION 43, HELLSHIP and ARTEMIS. Philip is the founder of Afan Films.

He has a part time role as a lecturer at the London Film School, on the MA Screenwriting course.

Fletcher Moss was an Alderman of Manchester who upon his death over a century ago, bequeathed a beautiful botanical gardens to the people of the city; a noble and generous gesture. This Fletcher Moss has significantly less to recommend him – he’s an Assistant Headteacher at a school in Greater Manchester who needed a pseudonym for the writing he fits in between lesson planning, marking and rattling around the M60 in his second-hand Citroen. The Poison Boy (2013) is his debut novel. The Night Wardens (2015, fingers crossed…) is on the way