Q&A Birthday Edition
WHAT READERS ASKED ME...
1. I deeply admire your world-building skills and how you bring an imaginary setting to life. What’s your advice for writers who want to improve or develop their world-building skills?
Firstly, thank you. That means a lot to me because word-building is of utmost importance when writing books set in alternative universes.
My advice? Hmm. I have one main rule: whatever you do, try and avoid info dumps.
I know! Smuggling a few chunks of text that explain how *things work around here, peeps* is tempting. After all, you don’t want your readers to miss any important details! Or get the wrong end of the stick. However, as a reader, I find this method very annoying. And let’s not kid ourselves—it’s the easy way out. So one must resist.
Instead, I like my readers to be thrown into the midst of the story, totally submerged in the world from the word go. I let them figure stuff out themselves as they go along by feeding them little clues and allowing them to discover little intricacies and nuances. The aim is to have the set up unfold ‘organically’. That means weaving bits of essential information into the plot and showing things. It’s helpful to imagine that my story is a film and I’m the operator behind the camera.
I think explanations work well when conveyed through dialogue. That’s a technique I use a lot.
I keep info dumps for my glossaries, hahaha (the clever clogs that I am!)
2. If "The Order" becomes a TV show/movie who would play each character?
Sweet gods! Such a great question but also one that is so difficult for me to answer!
Why? Because I always think of my books in terms of manga, graphic novels or anime. Never a film or a show with actual people in it! Gah! And also, I don’t watch much TV nowadays. I usually binge anime or Chinese Wuxia dramas, so I have no idea about ‘hip’ actors currently dazzling the western world, so to speak, haha!!
So yes, you got me there.
Well, I’m just going to stick with my two flag characters and cast them as follows:
Ervyn: Wang Yibo
Lochan: Song Jiyang
3. Do you usually know the ending before you start to write or do you make it up along the way?
Yes!! I always know the ending!
Funnily enough, I often start writing the ending before I even get to the beginning. I never write linearly; I tend to go back and forth. I also change things quite a lot while I’m at it. So in my case, with all the altering going round, outlining only makes sense to a degree. The only elements usually set in stone are the opening and the ending.
4. Do you have a favourite character that you've written?
I do! It’s Lochan. The first character I ever dreamt up. A difficult one to write and perhaps also to like? He’s a complex and conflicted soul. A person full of contrasts. There’s love and violence. Grumpiness and humour. Power and the need to surrender the control to someone else. Scepticism and a huge need to trust.
Lochan was difficult to write for personal reasons and also because the damn bastard doesn’t open his mouth to talk all that much, LOL. But I’ll let you in on a secret: he’s going to get a tad better in The Scouts! Phew!
5. How did you come up with this? Did the world or the characters come first? I always assumed it was the characters and the world was created around them. Or did they come together? Is this something that’s developed slowly over the years or did it come to you all together?
Frankly, it’s kinda difficult to think back and explain exactly how it happened. It’s a bit of a blur now, I’m afraid. I’d say it all appeared in my head around the same time, but the characters were definitely the driving force behind the creative work. It took some time for it all to take shape as one concept, one that seemed coherent (well, at least to me, LOL).
What I like about the Order Universe is the flexibility it gives me. I can tailor its geography, politics and social systems the way I want to (or the way I need to). It allows me to accommodate different beings (races?), customs and cultures and a variety of places. Total freedom! Well… freedom to a point, anyway. Ultimately, it all has to be plausible and controlled by the rules I created. Otherwise it would be chaos.
6. Will there be any more books in the Order universe?
The next book in the Order Universe—which will release this autumn—is When I First Saw Red (Soldiers & Mercenaries #2). After that, I’ll focus solely on finishing The Scouts (The Order #3).
I wish I could devote more time to writing. *sigh* Alas, reality stinks. :-)
7. What is your favourite way to focus on writing? Do you have specific music you listen to? Or a ritual that sets you up for that sprint?
I like writing in my favourite rustic coffee shop, just round the corner from my house. When I go there, it’s with a specific purpose to accomplish, and that helps me to get in the right mind-set. No screwing around allowed! Just work. It’s amazing what one can achieve in two hours of heightened concentration!
And yes, I need music (and my headphones) to write. Funny thing: English lyrics distract me. So I usually listen to a complication of Japanese/Korean rock and Latin dance music in Spanish. I get safely hyped by the rhythm and the mood, but I don’t understand the words. It’s perfect.
8. There are many things I would love to know, but I guess I have to choose just one. So... where does your elf obsession come from? Mine comes from Tolkien, whom I discovered when I was fourteen (basically, my first love was in the Silmarillion). So was it Tolkien or was it any other thing?
No doubt. Tolkien—the bloody genius that he was—heavily influenced my writing and stirred up my interest in Elves.
Another important saga that added fuel to the fire was The Witcher by Andrzej Sapkowski. I know—most people only think of The Witcher in terms of the game. That, to me, is sacrilege. Haha! I consider The Witcher books the best piece of fantasy I’ve ever read, where the portrayal of the Elven race is both unique and particularly well done.
And finally, let us not forget Elfquest, a comic with a great take on Elves!!
9. Have you ever thought of doing some epistolary work between Ervyn and Lochan? Also—have you ever considered writing a short in your very own Elven language? Maybe in letters back and forth perhaps!?
Firstly—well, thank you. Haha. You’ve just given me a lovely little idea for a cute scene I might include in The Scouts. Yay! Watch this space!
And BTW, I greatly enjoy novels where the epistolary exchange drives the plot. That’s why one of my all times favourites is Les Liasons Dangereuses by de Laclos.
As to writing a short in my own language… That might be a bit too taxing. On, err, myself, the reader (all three of them, possibly LOL) and the poor narrator chosen to do the audio!
10. When are you going to give us a full-length book, linking up on your tantalising quickies, into one big Bacon-Bite-Extravanganza-Fest?
Hahaha! That question made me snort. However much I’d like you all to, well, fest-bite into my bacon, I won’t risk giving specifics. The minute I say I’ll have this and that done by such and such date, something horrendous hits me in the arse just to prove me wrong—Oh no, you won’t!
But since I get asked about this a lot… here goes. I do work on and plan to publish full-length novels in The Order Universe. I have a few outlined (or the closest thing to outlining that I do, anyway) and one almost completed, just sitting in my computer! Although it probably needs to be rewritten in parts now.
Producing longer novels might be a struggle for independent authors with real-life jobs (ugh) in terms of time and cost sometimes. But things *are* happening over here in the Bacons’ Den. Scout’s honour. Slower that I’d like, perhaps, but there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
However, I must stress that I enjoy writing shorts. It’s a really tricky thing to get right and the satisfaction is inversely proportionate to the length, haha! Such form suits my crude, to-the-point personality and limited attention span, LOL. Besides, I always write stories as they come to me. Some just want to be shorter. Forcing volume into them to stretch them would somehow feel dishonest.
BUT YES, FULL-LENGTH NOVELS ARE ON THE CARDS. :-)
11. What genre do you lean towards the most when reading? Who are some authors you like to read?
I mostly read fantasy, paranormal and historicals. I will reach for contemporaries only if they are also mysteries, thrillers or romantic suspense books, featuring law enforcement characters in particular.
In usual circumstances (although there are exceptions), regular contemporary romance doesn’t float my boat much. I get more than enough realism in my day job to be wanting to read about it in my free time. When reading, I want to escape. I want the unknown. I want the magical.
Some of my favourite authors within the genre include: Ginn Hale, Josh Lanyon, Nicole Kimberling, R.Cooper, Alessandra Hazard and Jordan Castillo Price.
Thanks for reading. Have a great week, everyone!
My fantasy stories can be found on Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.
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