Posts Tagged interview
The push-pull in a person’s soul – how to keep readers desperately hooked. Interview with Mary Kole @Kid_Lit
Mary Kole has long been a legend in my online writing life. I’ve followed her since I first ventured onto the internet of writing, when she was a literary agent and wrote one of the smartest blogs about storytelling. Now she has a podcast for writers – as well as a consultancy – and I was massively chuffed when she invited me to guest.
We had a huge, wide-ranging chat about storycraft which boiled down to this – what keeps the reader hooked? Could we identify any qualities that work for any kind of story – no matter what the genre, even in the absence of a clear genre?
Reader, we did. (See the headline to this post.)
We talk about identifying the core of a story – because most ideas start as an intriguing muddle. They lead us and frustrate us, and for a long time we might not know where we’re going – just that this idea is eating our brain, directing us to books we might not usually read, movies we might not usually choose to watch. We also talk about small but vital aspects of craft – pacing, word shapes, learning from other writers, change in a story and when to give the reader a breather.
We talk about coaching writers – the art of wriggling inside an author’s mind to help them create the book they really want, even if they’re not clear what that is. And about ghostwriting – another kind of mind-reading, with the added challenge of absorbing another person’s experience to write the book they’d write if they could. (Did you know I have a course for ghostwriters?)
We’re editors too, so we talk about switching hats from writer brain to editor brain – and the great big interzone where the two overlap.
You can listen to us talk about all this and more, or if you prefer to read, there’s a full transcript. Step this way.
There’s a lot more about writing in my Nail Your Novel books – find them here. If you’re curious about my own work, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, here’s my latest newsletter. You can subscribe to future updates here.
Do you write shortform? I have two opportunities for you.
If your forte is piercingly, wincingly, blazingly short, the 50 Give or Take series from Vine Leaves Press wants your work. The editor is my friend Elaina Battista-Parsons.
Does Elaina sound familiar? You’re right. She came to my blog to talk about her memoir Italian Bones In The Snow.
If 50 words is too tight and you like to be thoughtful at greater length, Elaina still wants your goodness. She’s also an editor at Cordelia Magazine.
Go here to her blog and follow the trails.
Elaina also invited me for a brief chat about my writing, my favourite music, my favourite decade and advice for new writers. In the same post she featured the work of pop musicologist Quentin Harrison, and that’s an inspired pairing – Quentin has a series of books (Record Redux) on pop icons, explored through their songs, and I mainlined books on bands when I wrote my novel Ever Rest. We were destined to meet.
Device addiction, how we treat ‘others’, and a love of horses – talking to @authorgreene about World Fantasy Award longlisted Lifeform Three
We talk about the authors who inspired me, the novel’s issues and questions. Actually, where do we start with that? I love novels that pose questions! Here are some of them – what makes us human, how we are persuaded to conform even though we have free will and rights, how our devices enable us but also program us, how nature and animals are an essential escape, how we treat people who aren’t like us, why Ray Bradbury is a genius, toxic capitalism and corporate bullying, climate change, visions of the future and places I would be sad to lose. Here’s more about Lifeform Three if you want to know about it.
Randal’s also a writer, so we also get into the practical stuff – how I develop a complex set of themes and ideas into a readable story, how I juggle creative writing with other work that uses those same faculties, and why writing is always a long game for me. Do come over.
If you’d like help with your writing, my Nail Your Novel books are here. If you’re curious about my own work, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk, here’s my latest newsletter. You can subscribe to future updates here.
What’s literary fiction? Today I’m on Mark Dawson and James Blatch’s Self-Publishing Show, wrangling this question.
We talk about definitions, of course. Where literary and genre overlap. What literary isn’t. We also talk about marketing strategies for literary, and about my work as an editor, ghostwriter and writing coach.
Find it here.
If you’d like help with your writing, my Nail Your Novel books are here. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s been going on on at my own writing desk, here’s my latest newsletter. You can subscribe to future updates here.
How do you become an author? I realised, while recording this interview, that for me it had two elements. There was an Outer Me, who didn’t know what I wanted to do in life, and an Inner Me who did. If only they could talk to each other, but they didn’t, and that was the problem.
Outer Me went to school, took advice about careers, wondered how on earth I’d earn a living. Inner Me spoke only in Yes and No, like an oracle. No, you don’t want to do marketing or accountancy or any of those graduate careers.
So what should I do? said Outer Me.
When you find the right thing, said Inner Me, I’ll let you know.
One day, after being fired from a job to which I was very unsuited, I saw an advert for a temporary proofreader at a local publisher. I arrived there, a place devoted to the making of books. Yes, said Inner Me. This will do nicely.
That’s one of the subjects we’re talking about on this podcast, Write-Hearted, hosted by book coach and author Stuart Wakefield. It was fun!
We also talked about –
Ghostwriting versus writing the books of your art and soul (BTW, I have a professional course for ghostwriters)
What I learned from working with the strictest editors in the business
How to solve plot holes and keep writing when the muse is AWOL
How to manage your writing and editing so you can make measurable and consistent progress, even if the book is taking you years (like mine do)
The rewards of mentoring
How to live with another writer (and not kill each other).
If you’re looking for detailed writing advice, my Nail Your Novel books are full of tips. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s been going on on at my own writing desk, here’s my latest newsletter. You can subscribe to future updates here.
How do you like to talk about books? Themes, juxtapositions and the complication of being human – an interview at Late Last Night Books @L8NiteBooks
I have a Bachelor’s degree in English literature, but if I’m honest, I didn’t enjoy the course. However, I loved studying English literature in the final two years of school, at A level. (Note for non-Brits: you probably call this high school, age 16-18.)
My degree disappointed me because it was too wideswept; it seemed chiefly to value an author for the way they represented a historical period, a concern of the age or a step in the evolution of a form. I was disappointed because it gave little priority to the literary work itself – the novel, poem or play as a creation of beauty and power, enduring resonance and relevance.
But A level was mainly about appreciating the work. While context wasn’t ignored, each novel, poem or play was examined in its own right, as an entity worth detailed attention. We learned to notice how the author might be playing with our hearts and minds. We discussed themes and juxtapositions and narrative devices. We might have found patterns the author did not intend; we might have overthought things. That did not matter; decoding this richness was part of the joy, a quest to discover why this work enspelled us so. We were discovering a wondrous thing – the author’s craft.
I still love this. It’s my favourite way to talk about a book.
If you like that too, you might enjoy my interview here at Late Last Night Books,
The subject is Ever Rest and my interrogator is Garry Craig Powell, a former creative writing professor and author of the prizewinning short story collection Stoning The Devil (which you might remember from his appearance on The Undercover Soundtrack).
We talk about juxtapositions. Why I put this with that. The man frozen in the ice, as young as the day he went in, and the people who remember that day and are now 20 years older.
We talk about themes and narrative aims. We talk about places where we can be gods (playing music to a crowd of 10,000) and places where we are too fragile to survive (the top of Everest). We talk about love and death and loss, the massive complication of being human. And things I wasn’t aware of until Garry asked. Do come over.
Do bring your own questions too if you’ve already read the novel – or you can drop them in the comments here.
If you’d like more concentrated writing advice, my Nail Your Novel books are full of tips. If you’re curious about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s been going on on at my own writing desk, here’s my latest newsletter. You can subscribe to future updates here.
A quick interview at the online home of book blogger Jo Barton, aka Jaffareadstoo. The questions are lighthearted, but they raise interesting issues about reading.
Writers and book bloggers have something in common – a TBR pile that’s neverending. We’re reading to keep up with recent releases. We’re reading as research. We’re reading to help our friends. And we’re reading a lot – an awful lot – to do our jobs. When do we read for ourselves?
Do you have a rule that if you start a book, you finish it? I used to. It was a habit instilled at school – abandoning a book was bad manners. I almost felt the author would know I’d sneaked out before they’d said their piece. I remember there was a moment when I decided I had to let go of that rule or I’d never get everything read that I had to. And I’m a slow reader. I like to appreciate a book, not bolt it. That raises another question – if reading is our job, do we still allow ourselves to read for pleasure? I know plenty of people in publishing who have lost their joy of the written word.
Anyway, tell me your thoughts, either here or at Jo’s blog. You’ll also see Jo and I discuss this, the oldest book on my shelves.
If you’re looking for writing advice, try my Nail Your Novel books. If you’d like to know more about my own creative writing, find novels here and my travel memoir here. And if you’re curious about what’s going on at my own writing desk (and my very exciting new novel), look here. You can subscribe to future updates here.