I’m really glad Dave and I kept our DVD player. If you watch movies and boxsets on DVD you get something that isn’t usually available on streamed versions – the extras, with interviews about the making of the piece, or the casting, or the design, or the adaptation for the screen. Sometimes they’re a bit throwaway, sometimes they’re deep and insightful, but all have a sense of creative energy, a love of the project, a pride in the artform, and a sense of a lot of talents coming together.
Publishing a book is like that too. Perhaps there are fewer people involved than on a movie or a TV show, but there’s still a sense of great and noble effort. Well, I think it’s noble.
That’s one of the things I’m talking about in this interview, with satirical and speculative fiction author Andrew Verlaine on his show Publishing Talks.
Andrew is at the beginning of his publishing journey, with a novel scheduled for 2025. We talk about the surprises he might face in the production process, the different experts who contribute to the polish of a published book, like the different trades in a filmed work. We talk about the constructive nature of editing, how a good editor will help you discover your superpowers and also your blind spots – and then, with luck, open your eyes. And about the finicky and fine work of making something as complex and wondrous as a book, which a person will one day read and experience, will keep on their shelf, will buy for a friend as a gift, and might never forget.
Today I’m at Michelle Dunton’s Youtube channel, talking about ideas, where they come from and how they end up as books. Michelle’s been reading my novels and decided to pick my brains for her podcast. One question of hers I particularly liked: she asked how a first-time fiction author should start writing a book. Should it be the characters, the plot, what? My answer: ‘start with something you can’t stop thinking about’. And from there, everything flows – as it does in this discussion. Do hop over.
JW Hicks collects writers of quirky books, and I’m honoured she’s chosen me for her collection on the fab blog of the Triskele Books collective. (You might recognise Jane as a recent guest on The Undercover Soundtrack with her novel Rats.) She’s prised me out of my writing cage to answer questions on whether I start with characters or plot, what ghostwriting does to your writing style, how I keep track of ideas, and whether I worry the ideas will dry up. (In fact, I confess to acute separation anxiety when I finish a book. I don’t want to leave it. Does anyone else get that?)
You may recognise Helen Hollick as a recent guest on The Red Blog, where she stirred up a storm with raging seas and black-hearted doings, all devised with the music of Mike Oldfield, among others. She’s also a bestselling author who’s hit major charts with her pirate novels, so that’s probably a better reason why you might know her.
After she guested for me, she was curious to find out more about how I use music and how I developed the idea of The Undercover Soundtrack into a blog. Especially as it’s been going for more than two years now – and contributors are now lined up into July!
Some of you NYN old-timers might have heard this tale before, but in case you haven’t, or you want a brief intro to my fiction, or you want to see where Helen lives on line, head over to her blog …