#73 – Kristy Childs – Write Through The Roof podcast

Interview with debut steampunk author, Kristy Childs

“How to make Sleeping Beauty an active protagonist.”

Episode 73 – Kristy Childs – Show Notes

  • Writes seasonally – starts in November with Nanowrimo until April
  • Light plot outline but generally pantsing
  • Fuelled by green tea
  • Themes are usually concepts to be included in the work – e.g. airship heist
  • Start with character or concept first?
  • Steampunk or gas lamp – genre definition
  • Editing
  • Changing British English into American English and difference in grammar rules
  • Passive voice cut-out and strengthening word use
  • Microsoft Word extra grammar features
  • “I before e except after c” – exceptions
  • Favourite genres to read – urban fantasy and YA – N.K. Jemisin, Tamora Pierce, Ben Aaronovitch, Warlock Holmes
  • The Nightmare Detective inspired by The Maltese Falcon but set between the Wars and Sleeping Beauty retelling.
  • Sleep disorders
  • Current project is a Chinese fantasy for Nanowrimo. Inspired by ‘cultivation novels’ – Dragonball Z

“I want dinosaurs and I want explosions”

Links

The Flower and The Serpent – launch!!!

My latest novel The Flower and The Serpent is now available in ebook on Amazon or Kindle Unlimited/Prime.

Madeleine D’Este definitely does creepy well.

reviewer

The book has elements of Stranger Things with fine character development and kids that feel like real kids. 

reviewer

the novel is genuinely frightening at times, but the characters are never overshadowed by the horror.

reviewer

Mysterious disappearances, a battle for the spotlight and terrifying nightmares. It’s just another day at Beacon Hill High School. 



Auditions for Macbeth are over, and on the bus ride home, a mysterious driver gives sixteen-year-old Violet and her friends’ three strange predictions:

One of the girls will shine like a star.
One will invite darkness into her breast.
One will depart forever.



Please, how cliché. Besides, Violet clearly knows that she’s the star. 

But when she isn’t cast as Lady Macbeth and strange things begin to unfold, and the eerie predictions begin to come true, Violet can’t help to wonder which one will apply to her.
Determined to be the one that will shine like a star, Violet will do whatever it takes to get the leading role – no matter the horrifying consequence. 



Modern-day Shakespeare meets supernatural mystery with this nail-biting young adult horror by Madeleine D’Este.

#72 – Violeta M. Bagia – Write Through The Roof

Interview with paranormal author, Violeta M. Bagia

“Whatever you do, you’re only going to get better by repeating it.”

Episode 72 – Violeta M. Bagia – Show Notes

  • Writes every day without fail
  • Early morning writing time is the best
  • Nice pair of shoes are required to write
  • Poetic and “prose-y” style. PTSD, new identity, personal transformation
  • The problems with defining a genre – paranormal or urban fantasy or war fiction
  • Routine is all-important to build a writing habit
  • Learning to plot to meet the publisher’s expectations
  • Whiteboard wall
  • Stephen King, Jennifer L Armentrout
  • Jack of Hart – the book came after “finishing” the series. Quick to write but then expanded to double the size.
  • Taking back the rights of the Hart of Darkness series from the original publisher and republished

Links

The Flower and The Serpent – Chapter 1

The Flower and The Serpent will be released on 4th December 2019 and it’s currently available for pre-order.

Galley readers have described The Flower and The Serpent as…

“Creepy and wonderful”

L.A

“Elements of #StrangerThings

Pete

“Darkly seductive tale of revenge, regret & ultimately redemption”

Jon black

To whet your appetite, here is an extract of Chapter 1 of The Flower and The Serpent.

I hope you enjoy.

————————–

Chapter 1

Monday 18th June 1992

VIOLET

Violet’s whole body hummed with leftover audition nerves.

‘I’m a dead cert,’ she said.

She was the first to climb aboard the empty number 458 bus but Holly and Lila were close behind. They followed the muddy footprints past the chubby lady bus driver as the wipers shrieked across the windshield and the rain slapped the windows. Violet wrinkled her nose. The bus reeked of soggy wool.

‘I can’t wait until tomorrow,’ Violet said as she slid into her regular seat halfway up the aisle. ‘When my name is on top of the list.’

‘You’re a shoo-in.’ Lila flopped into the seat in front of her. She turned and draped her skinny arm over the metal bar. ‘He’d be stupid not to cast you.’

The doors wheezed shut and the bus pulled out of the school and onto Beacon Hill Road. The midwinter sun had already disappeared behind Mount Wellington.

‘Angelika was alright, too.’ Holly squashed in next to Lila and sat backwards. ‘And the one with the curls. Rowan?’

Violet snorted and tossed her mousy hair. ‘Out. Out. Damned spot,’ she groaned in a monotone and snatched the last chip from the packet in Holly’s hand.

Holly pressed her lips together.

Lila giggled. ‘Maybe we’ll be cast as the witches. There’s three of them and three of us.’ She bounced in her seat. ‘We could get some props from your aunty, hey, Holly? Real witch supplies?’

Holly crushed the empty chip packet in her fist and turned away. But the late Hobart afternoon was as black as night and Violet could see Holly’s square-jawed scowl reflected in the window. Holly seemed to sulk a lot these days.

‘Witches? No way,’ Violet scoffed. ‘It’s Lady Macbeth or nothing.’

‘Of course, I’m an idiot. You’ll get the part for sure.’ Lila chewed her cuticles and shrugged. ‘I just thought it’d be fun. Us three. Together.’

Violet said nothing and neither did Holly.

‘Sorry.’ Lila playfully nudged Holly’s arm. ‘I didn’t mean it. The witch thing.’

Holly turned back to them with a sigh. ‘It’s not you.’ She squeezed the bridge of her nose. ‘This headache—’

‘What were you girls doing at the school?’ the curly-headed bus driver hollered.

Violet and her friends flinched. A pair of murky green eyes looked back at them through the rear vision mirror.

‘Holiday program,’ Lila called back.

‘All alone in that place during holidays?’ The bus driver raised an eyebrow. ‘They should never have built a school on that land. Or anything for that matter. Should have left it be.’

Violet rolled her eyes. ‘Everyone knows they purified it first, lady.’

‘The surety of youth,’ the bus driver chuckled. ‘I was once like you.’ Her voice was strange and lilting, she spoke with a musical accent Violet couldn’t place. ‘Life is not as it seems.’

Violet rotated a finger next to her temple and Lila stifled a giggle. Holly dipped her head to hide her eyes under her fringe.

‘You three are best friends?’

‘Totally.’ Lila grinned. ‘Ever since Grade Seven.’

Violet stared at her black eight-hole Doc Martens and chewed her lip. She noticed Holly didn’t say anything, either.

‘Women need to band together. Especially you three. You must look out for each other.’

‘What do you mean?’ Lila said. ‘Especially us?’

‘You three have challenges up ahead,’ the driver said.

Lila glanced at Holly and then Violet. ‘What does she mean?’

‘She probably means life stuff.’ Holly twirled a strand of dark brown hair around her finger. ‘Exams. Finishing school. Getting off this stupid island. I can’t wait.’

The bus driver went quiet. The tyres squelched on the wet road as the bus veered around the infamous hairpin bend and damp grey-green eucalyptus slapped on either side.

The three girls slid across the seats around the bend.

A few years ago in the late 1980s, a bus exactly like this one misjudged the turn and six lives were wiped out in a single mistake. Violet’s stomach clenched twice a day, five times a week, every time she passed the stone memorial on the way to school. The black and white photo of the bent wreckage was still vivid in her mind.

‘What challenges?’ asked Lila. She clutched at the metal bar until her knuckles were white.

The bus driver said nothing.

Violet rubbed her duffle coat sleeve against the fogged-up window and peered outside as the bus passed the small strip of local shops. First was The Three Torches, a cafe-bookshop run by Holly’s aunt. Then Terri’s Bakehouse where Violet worked Saturdays selling congealed yellow vanilla slices and the whitest of white bread. Then the dry cleaners and the shaman hairdressers with his multi-coloured Tibetan prayer flags and incense fluttering in the breeze, and finally the milk bar takeaway. Even through the glass, Violet could smell the old chip oil, the spicy Nag Champa and the astringent dry-cleaning fumes.

A figure in a raincoat with the hood pulled up stood at the kerb in the rain. Beside them, a muscular pointy-eared black dog strained at his leash. The person lifted a finger and pointed directly at the bus, directly through the window, directly at Violet. The face was a black shadow, no real face at all but somehow the hidden eyes bored straight into her, the gaze like an apple-corer.

With a gasp, she tore her gaze away from the window, her heart thumping.

‘What?’ said Lila.

‘Nothing,’ Violet muttered but when she turned back, the person was still there on the kerb, and still pointing. She shuddered. ‘Another loony.’

They travelled a few more blocks in silence, then the Beacon Hill Road straightened out after the weatherboard Scout Hall, the place for senior aerobics and Morris dancing. Her heartbeat settled as the man in the raincoat disappeared from view.

‘Three challenges for three friends,’ the bus driver continued. ‘I can see it clearly.’

The girls leaned forward in their seats.

‘What are you? Some kind of fortune teller?’ Lila said. ‘A psychic?’

Violet shoved Holly. ‘You know about all that stuff. Witchy poo.’

Holly poked out her tongue.

‘One of you will shine like a star,’ the bus driver proclaimed.

Violet shimmied in her seat. It was obviously her.

The driver went on. ‘One of you will invite darkness into her breast.’

‘Breast? That’d be you.’ Holly raised a dark eyebrow and prodded Violet in the boob. Violet swiped away her finger with a glare.

‘Darkness?’ Lila grimaced. ‘What do you mean? What does she mean?’

‘One of you will depart forever,’ the driver concluded.

‘Depart forever?’ Lila clawed at the metal bar between the seats. ‘That’s not good. That can’t be good.’

‘Excuse me, Miss.’ Holly raised her hand. ‘I don’t think this is appropriate—’

‘Death? Is she saying one of us is going to die?’ Lila wheezed.

‘What are you saying, lady?’ Violet squinted, projecting her voice up the empty bus. She loved how the power rippled up from her diaphragm when she used her breath in the right way. ‘Are you trying to scare us? Cos it’s not working.’

‘Ignore me if you like, girls,’ the bus driver said. ’It is your choice to listen. But you have been warned.’

‘One of us is going to die?’ Lila said with a crack in her voice. ‘How? When?’

‘There are powers in this world we cannot comprehend. You must beware.’

‘Today? Do we need to be careful today?’

The bus driver shifted her focus back to the road. Her face closed like a shutter.

‘You have to give us more information than that. You can’t just —’

But the woman behind the wheel didn’t respond. She didn’t even look their way. It was as though she’d never said a word.

‘Excuse me,’ Lila said and waved her arm. ‘Tell us more. Please.’

The bus driver kept her eyes on the road.

‘Why won’t she tell us?’ Lila chewed her finger, her eyes glazed.

‘Forget it,’ Violet snorted. ‘She’s just another nutbag.’

Violet wondered why Lila was so fazed, she’d lived around Beacon Hill her whole life and knew all the weird stories off by heart. She should be used to strange people by now.

The bus moaned to a stop. The back doors hissed open and a sharp slap of cold wind blew inside.

‘You have to tell us more.’ Lila scrambled up the aisle towards the driver’s seat, her canvas school bag clutched to her chest. ‘Who? Which one of us?’

‘Last stop.’

‘Please,’ Lila whined.

Holly grabbed her by the elbow. ‘Leave it.’

‘She can’t just tell us someone is going to die and then say nothing else. She said beware. But what of?’ Lila raked her fingers through her home-dyed burgundy hair. ‘Do you think she cursed us?’

‘Come on. Let’s go.’ Violet headed towards the door.

Holly tugged at Lila’s sleeve. ‘Don’t get worked up about it. You know what you’re like. We’ll call the bus company tomorrow. Make a complaint.’

Lila sighed and followed Holly out into the wet air. Misty droplets dribbled down the graffiti-etched bus shelter.

‘Weirdo!’ Violet yelled out as the bus driver closed the concertina doors and the bus rumbled away. Violet pulled up her duffle coat hood as the red tail lights bled onto the wet road.

‘What if she’s right? One of us could die,’ Lila said. Raindrops brimmed on her eyelashes and she didn’t wipe them away.

‘Forget about it,’ Violet said. ‘Right, Holly?’

‘Well, I think we should tell someone,’ Holly said. ‘But maybe you’re right. Don’t think about it, Lila. It’s just some stupid joke. Nothing’s going to happen.’

‘It’s not very funny,’ Lila huffed. ‘And I have this strange —’

‘Well, I’m off. Lines to learn,’ Violet said with a smirk. ‘Lady Macbeth lines. See you tomorrow.’

‘With bells on,’ Lila said but her smile didn’t reach her eyes.

‘To witness the grand unveiling of my name up on the board tomorrow,’ Violet said. ‘Violet Black as Lady Macbeth.’

With a wave, the three friends went their separate ways into the gloom. Violet wrapped her arms around herself as she trudged down Melaleuca Avenue, through the shadows and puddles, past the rows of empty brown brick-and-tile houses with double garages. There wasn’t another soul around.

Violet couldn’t wait until Friday night when she stepped out onto her stage and shone like a star.

Maybe there was some truth to the crazy bus driver’s words.

#71 – Debbie Young – Write Through The Roof

Interview with cosy mystery writer Debbie Young

“Cosy mysteries are an antidote to the strains of modern life”

Episode 71 – Debbie Young – Show Notes

  • Short novels are her favourite form
  • Journalistic background but mainly a pantser
  • Writes a chapter a day in the writing phase
  • Doesn’t always write every day. Needs to recharge the batteries and think
  • Themes of celebrating community and nurturing understanding between people
  • The mystery provides the framework to flesh out with characters and comedy
  • Based on her real village life and her community
  • Closed communities in a mystery; village and classic English boarding school
  • Cosy mystery popularity – an antidote to modern life, resolution and happy ever after
  • Writing without stopping – experiment with the next novel with a little light editing to begin each writing session
  • Different technologies for writing – Word, using Scrivener for plotting, writing by hand with a fountain pen
  • Touch typing
  • Agatha Christie, Dorothy L Sayers
  • Sophie Sayers mysteries are not always murder stories and veer more to romantic and situational comedy.
  • Experimenting with crossing over between the Sayers and St.Brides series and writing more novellas

I’m an organised pantser.”

“Sometimes I feel I’m writing situation comedy sketches.”

Links

The Flower and The Serpent – new release alert!

My latest novel The Flower and The Serpent will be released on 4th December 2019.

A supernatural young adult novel set during a school production of Macbeth, The Flower and The Serpent is my most autobiographical book yet.

The Flower and The Serpent is available now for pre-order.

—————-

Mysterious disappearances, a battle for the spotlight and nightmares. It’s just another day at Beacon Hill High School.

Auditions for Macbeth are over, and on the bus ride home, a mysterious driver gives sixteen-year-old Violet and her friends’ three strange predictions:

One of the girls will shine like a star.

One will invite darkness into her breast.

One will depart forever.

Please, how cliché. Besides, Violet clearly knows that she’s the star.
But when she isn’t cast as Lady Macbeth and strange things begin to unfold, and the predictions begin to come true, Violet can’t help to wonder which one will apply to her.

Determined to be the one that will shine like a star, Violet will do whatever it takes to get the leading role – no matter the consequence.

Modern-day Shakespeare meets supernatural mystery with this nail-biting young adult horror by Madeleine D’Este.

‘An Awfully Evangeline Christmas’ in a new Anthology

My story “An Awfully Evangeline Christmas” is part of a new Australian Christmas themed speculative fiction anthology – Christmas Australis: A Frighteningly Festive Anthology of Spine Jingling Tales.

An Antipodean Christmas feels awfully topsy-turvy to Evangeline and when she goes to buy gingerbread for her father, she finds that the weather is not the only odd thing about this festive season.

As well as Evangeline, Christmas Australis contains seven other tales – a novella, two novelettes and four short stories – something for everyone this Festive Season.

The release date is 11 November but you can pre-order now on Amazon.

#70 – R.R. Campbell – Write Through The Roof

Episode 70 – interview with sci-fi author, podcaster and writing coach, RR Campbell.

“There’s no Twitter, no email. The coffee is here. The time has come.”

Episode 70 – Show Notes

  • Meticulous planner rather than pantser – with scene by scene outlines. This means every morning he wakes up and knows exactly what he’s going to write
  • Analytical approach to writing – informed by linguistics background
  • Daily writing ritual – coffee pot on a timer and ready to go
  • Re-reading a favourite author as writing fuel
  • Empathy between characters. Epistolary novel form.
  • Five core components to any scene: setting, goal, conflict, resolution, cliffhanger/pivot/change
  • Margaret Atwood. David Mitchell
  • Empathy series – internet access brain implants inspired by smartphones
  • Taking time away from a manuscript to get perspective before retooling
  • Multiple points of view, dimensions and shout-outs

“Finding the best way to create empathy between the character and the reader.”

“There are five core components to any scene.”

Links

#69 – Alan Baxter – Write Through The Roof

Interview with Alan Baxter, writer of dark weird shit

‘Write caffeinated and edit drunk’

Episode 69 – Alan Baxter – Show Notes

  • Baxter believes plotting and pantsing is a sliding scale.
  • Vomit drafter but often edits a little before starting each day’s writing session
  • Has a target of 5000 words per week when writing first drafts but doesn’t try to write every day
  • Coffee in the day, whiskey in the evening
  • Genre is ‘dark weird shit’ – soup of urban fantasy, horror and the weird plus crime and noir
  • Themes of justice and consequences
  • Time is the most important thing
  • Martial arts mindset – time and commitment – developing a practice and striving for improvement
  • Stepping away from the manuscript to let the brain to work out the problems
  • Short stories can shake up the process, like cross-training
  • Clive Barker, Stephen King, Lovecraft, Poe, Kaaron Warren, Margo Lanegan and comics
  • Short story collection Served Cold leans more into horror and explores Australian identity

Links

#68 – Lee Kofman – Write Through The Roof

Interview with Lee Kofman – author and writing teacher

‘In each draft I try to get one or two things right rather than everything.’

Episode 68 – Lee Kofman – Show Notes

  • Creative non-fiction is her current favourite medium. Closer to poetry than non-fiction. It is a fresher and younger experimental genre.
  • Multi-tasking with children
  • Prepare for writing session by thinking about the current project before sitting down at the desk.
  • Gerald Murnane – three types of writers: curious, preachy and possessed/obsessed.
  • Themes – doomed loves.
  • Memoir-writing and Russian poets
  • All writing is rewriting.
  • Working on plotting skills but not plotting too much. Needs a sense of tension to keep the writing process interesting
  • Tolstoy, Chekhov, Gogol, Helen Garner, Robert Dessaix, Zadie Smith, Geoff Dyer, Joan Didion, Karl Ove Knausgaard
  • Imperfect – scars and haunted by shame. Inspired by her child’s diagnosis of albinism

‘Writing is layering.’

‘What it’s like to have a body which deviates from the so-called norm.’

Links

#67 – Agnes Gomillion – Write Through The Roof

Interview with Afro-futurist writer Agnes Gomillion

“I wanted people to reflect on their relative state of freedom.”

Episode 67 – Agnes Gomillion – Show Notes

  • Writes something every day – maybe poetry or notes but not necessarily her ‘work-in-progress’
  • Poetry, songs and lyrical writing
  • Sleep is writing fuel of choice
  • Afrofuturism – lift the audience from reality for the purpose of looking back and better understanding African-American culture.
  • Humanity with an African-American lens.
  • Writing about the underlying person brings different people together.
  • Perseverance
  • ‘Story’ by Robert McKee – how to create a character and how to use structure to ‘show, don’t tell’.
  • Having to incorporate more structure in the writing day with children
  • Jesmyn Ward – Salvage the Bones, Stephen King
  • Frederick Douglass inspired The Record Keeper with his spirit of freedom. The story of how someone overcomes their fear set in a dystopia after World War 3.
  • Octavia Butler comparisons
  • Working on the sequel – The Seed of Cain.

“Humanity with an afro-futurist bent.”

“Slavery is more than physical chains.”

Links

#66 – Alison Morton – Write Through The Roof

Interview with alternative history novelist Alison Morton

‘Exercise your writing muscle in different ways on different days.’

Episode 66 – Alison Morton – Show Notes

  • 30% plotter and 70% pantser
  • Black moments: when it all falls apart for the main character
  • Writing versus marketing
  • Tea imported in from England – sergeant major’s tea
  • Wanted to explore female-led action stories with a Roman flavour. But needed to create an alternative history world to feature strong female leaders. Values, betrayal, rebellion, resilience
  • Alternative history research: taking history and twisting it but anchoring back to the facts.
  • Using historical logic – what would have happened if?
  • Collaborating with other writers, exchanging ideas, being accepting and giving
  • A team effort to produce a book
  • Robert Harris’ Fatherland, William Boyd’s Restless, Sebastian Faulks, Lindsay Davis, Georgette Heyer
  • Aurelia: going back to write the backstory of the grandmother of the main character of the Carina Mitela series
  • Writing short stories and novellas

‘30% plotter and 70% pantser.’

‘You do need other people to get a successful book out.’

Links

#65 – Clare Flynn – Write Through The Roof

Podcast interview with historical novelist, Clare Flynn

‘Read everything I could get my little hands on.’

Episode 65 – Clare Flynn – Show Notes

  • Instinctive pantser who occasionally tries to plot
  • The first book took 15 years to write but now tries to be more disciplined
  • Writes most days
  • Two solutions if the words are hard – walk away or force herself to write
  • ‘Edit as you go’ person
  • Once a week writing group to share work-in-progress
  • Nanowrimo – to kick start a book or finish a book off
  • Tea, coffee and water and wine o’clock
  • Displacement: theme comes from childhood experiences, relationship problems, PTSD and impact of war, self discovery, religious bigotry
  • Reading: taught to read by her father
  • Learnt from editor; tough but also positive
  • Read aloud
  • Writing two books at once; keeps the writing fresh
  • Classics: Hardy, Brontes, Anya Seton, Jean Plaidy, Agatha Christie, Mary Stewart, Tolstoy, Zola, Kate Atkinson, Amor Towles, historical research
  • Hybrid publishing
  • Storms Gather Between Us

‘A competitive person, even if the competition is myself.’

‘It’s got to have highs & lows and lights & darks.’

Links

Women of Wasps and War – Chapter One extract

Chapter One

‘Wasp Woman.’

A glob of spit thwacked her cheek. Her eyes flashed but she clamped her jaw shut as the guards dragged her into the Great Hall of the Eel, past the throng of townsmen.

‘Sinner.’

They hacked and snarled at her, their disgust striking her face like rain. She held her chin high but with her hands secured behind her back, she couldn’t wipe her face clean.

‘Murderess.’

Foul-smelling fishermen, goat-herders in hessian, callous-handed blacksmiths and even merchants dressed in silk shoved and jostled her as she struggled through the crowd.

‘Filth.’

Hands grabbed her hair. Strange fingers tore at her grubby clothes and groped her breasts. She gasped through clenched teeth, her heartbeat pounding in her ears.

But she said nothing.

Soon she would speak and they would be forced to listen.

‘Traitor.’

The guards shoved her into a chair in the centre of the room beside the others. She grunted as her elbow struck the hard wood. The Masters of the Shield and the Scion sat in front of her. Behind them was the low dais where the High Table sat and the forest green, gold and terracotta tapestry woven with the eel sigil of Ambrovna covered the wall.

The side door opened, hushing the mob and the Duke entered, his golden brooch glinting against his terracotta-red surcoat. The guards thumped their swords against their shields to announce his arrival, a deafening metallic din rising up to the vaulted ceiling. The pushing stopped and the townsmen bowed their heads.

Her belly clenched like a fist.

As he sat on the carved wooden throne, the blank-faced Duke nodded to the Master of the Shield. Lord Kalin lifted a dark eyebrow and began.

‘Men of Ambrovna. According to the laws of the Kingdom of the Four Rivers and the Duchy of Ambrovna, Gerthorn Nyvard, the thirty-fourth Duke of Ambrovna is present in this Great Hall to hear the accusations made against these women. In this realm, the Duke’s decision is final and justice will be served today.’

She rolled back her shoulders and lifted her chin. She was ready.

Women of Wasps and War – available now through Amazon or Kindle Unlimited.

#64 – Christopher Ruz – Write Through The Roof

Interview with horror and fantasy writer Christopher Ruz

‘Look for people who are one or two stages ahead of where you’re at.’

Episode 64 – Christopher Ruz – Show Notes

  • Doesn’t know how to write short stories any more.
  • Tries to write every day – most productive when writing every day
  • Rituals – encasing in a bubble, getting rid of visual distraction and white noise.
  • Pomodoro method – 100 words every 5 minutes.
  • Themes – horror-based but fantasy and sci-fi. But also spy fiction
  • A narrow focus on character – even with epic fantasy using a single narrator.
  • Using a single narrator to create tension with a timeline
  • Finding a group of writers who were better than him
  • Penny Arcade, Discord, Reddit, Twitter
  • Dictation in the car with a lapel mic
  • Cormac McCarthy, Emma Osborne, NK Jemesin, James SA Corey
  • China Mieville and Joe Hill – horror short stories
  • The Ragged Blade – epic fantasy – inspired by a vivid dream – started as a short story
  • All These Shiny Worlds
  • Working on The Ragged Blade 2 (yet unnamed)
  • Originally self-published the first two parts of The Ragged Blade
  • The journey from self-published to traditionally published

‘The novel is the lazy form’


‘Every change they recommended made it a better story’

Links

Women of Wasps and War

My new novel is available now as an ebook on Amazon

Women of Wasps and War

The Sting of Justice

Agata, the Duchess of Ambrovna, was never meant to take the throne. 

In a land where men rule, her sole purpose was to smile and curtsey.

However, when war left her land leaderless, the Fatherhood religion begrudgingly allowed a first; a woman to rule. 

Now the war is over the men have returned more arrogant and cruel than ever, and the Duchess is shoved back into a life of needlework and silence.

But with her new thirst for justice, Agata is reluctant to allow her country to return to its old ways.

Without her position of power, Agata and her circle of women look to the taboo wisdom of the Wasp Women for answers. But this ancient knowledge comes with consequences, and with death and treachery on the horizon, Agata must decide whether it is worth the risk. 

Women of Wasps and War is a grim, gripping tale of power and politics, and the heart-breaking struggle between love and honour.

#63 – Toby Neal – Write Through The Roof

Interview with best-selling romance & mystery writer Toby Neal

‘People are preoccupied by crime because we want to recognise the wolves in our midst’

Episode 63 – Toby Neal – Show Notes

  • Writing is like a muscle – needs regular workouts
  • 2000 words a day target
  • Both a plotter and a pantser. More pantser for romance and plotter for mysteries
  • Recording affirmations and listening prior to writing session
  • Themes of good versus evil and the shades of grey in everyone and how love can overcome a multitude of problems
  • Dark themes but with hope – fascinated with the duality between dark and light
  • Mastering your craft – Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell – the 10,000 hour rule
  • Take off your pants – Libbie Hawker – the hero needs to find a cure for their flaw
  • Unconventional childhood – Memoir – Freckles
  • Putting off writing goals for security – started with an anonymous blog – using real life experience as a school counsellor
  • Speeding up the writing process
  • Dictation, health and accessing creative brain by writing longhand
  • Where the Crawdads Sing – Delia Owens, The Outlander series – Diana Gabaldon
  • Wired Truth: multi-cultural kick-ass female main character. Pushing the envelope for what’s acceptable with female behaviour. Experimenting with different kinds of love.

‘Nothing but writing is going to make you a better writer’

‘I tried to do literary fiction and I bored myself by page 40’

Links

Music for writing – atmospheric synths

Today’s music recommendations are all about the synths. Instrumental of course, because this is music for writing.

These artists aren’t necessarily soundtrack composers (although sometimes they are) but their electronic music creates a special dark atmospheric mood.

S U R V I V E

S U R V I V E is a dark synth group from Texas and two of the members are well known for creating the ‘Stranger Things’ TV series soundtrack. Their music reminds me of 80s horror films with a touch of early Depeche Mode.

Pentagram Home Video

I know very little about this band but their music and soundtracks create a sombre yet eerie backdrop for my writing.

Cryo Chamber

Now Cryo Chamber is not an artist but a record label focusing on dark ambient music. Their YouTube channel features a whole bunch of curated playlists, releases and mixes for atmospheric writing or sleep.

If you’d like to listen to all my recommendations in one place, head to the Spotify playlist.

Happy writing.

#62 – Suzanne J Willis – Write Through The Roof

Episode 62 with Suzanne J Willis – fantasy short story & flash-fiction writer

‘The best kind of fairies, you know, the nasty ones’

Episode 62 – Suzanne J Willis – Show Notes

  • A natural pantser but learning to plot and outline. A structure helps to hit the right beats
  • Making notes every day but not writing every day
  • Tea and chocolate – freckles
  • Connection between music and writing: lyrical and poetic.
  • Themes of lack of belonging, search for self or a home, life and music
  • Learning that the language is secondary to the story and the interaction between characters gives rise to the plot
  • Writing novellas: taking up an opportunity
  • Jeanette Winterson, Patricia McKillip, Margaret Atwood, Neil Gaiman, Angela Slater
  • Importance of word of mouth for recommendations
  • Portals and evil fairies in ‘Silver String in between worlds’
  • Novella for Broken Cities shared world for Falstaff Books.
  • Upcoming stories in Syntax & Salt Magazine

‘The language is inseparable from the story itself’

‘It’s a good thing to learn your bad habits.

Links

Music for Writing – dark & spooky moods

Most of the time I need music for writing. And the right kind of music. Like books and stories, I’ve always had a passion for music.

This is a new series where I’ll be sharing what I’m listening to.

Today is dark and spooky music for dark and spooky moods.

Here are three artists to inspire your dark and spooky writing.

Lebanon Hanover

Lebanon Hanover is a German-British goth electric duo. Think New Order with Nico. Great music for taphophiles and recovering goths.

Bohren and der Club of Gore

Bohren and der Club of Gore are slow, languid, dark and jazzy. Known as ‘doom jazz’, this is reminiscent of smoky clubs, noir with a touch of Twin Peaks.

John Carpenter

‘Horror-synth’ is another musical genre I gravitate towards when writing horror or general dark stuff. And John Carpenter is the grand-daddy of them all. His synth soundtracks create the perfect sense of dread.

I hope you enjoy these atmosphere-creating tunes.

If you’re writing something dark and spooky, what music do you listen to?

Edit: I’ve created a Spotify playlist featuring the artists above.

Spotify – Music for Writing playlist

#61 – Pauline Wiles – Write Through The Roof

Episode 61 with Pauline Wiles – women’s fiction author & writing productivity coach

‘We need to figure out our own path and plod along steadily.’

Episode 61 – Pauline Wiles – Show Notes

  • Benefit from writing both fiction and non-fiction: entertainment v exploring own worries
  • Take a day off once a week
  • Tea – English breakfast with milk
  • Bacon controversy
  • Fiction – light-hearted escapist women’s fiction but dealing with finding yourself as a person before getting in a relationship.
  • Quirky cultural differences between the UK and the US.
  • Non-fiction – productivity for writers – purposeful productivity.
  • Comparisonitis. Humans learn by comparing.
  • Listening to her own advice.
  • Mindfulness – catch own thinking before it spirals out of control. Ten-minute daily meditation – listen to own breath.
  • Dividing week into blocks of time. Writing, business, promotion and marketing.
  • Creating a parking lot for ideas
  • Jane Austen, Marian Keyes, Emily Giffin, Laura Vanderkam, Gretchen Rubin
  • Indie With Ease
  • Ten Things my Husband Hated

‘Try to compare when you’re having a positive day.’

‘I’m definitely not sitting there on a fluffy cloud of zen.’

Links

#60 – David Baboulene – Write Through The Roof

Episode 60 – interview with David Baboulene – author, academic & story consultant

‘I find inspiration but analyse the inspiration to speed up the process’

Episode 60 – David Baboulene – Show Notes

  • Type of writing depending on mood and deadline
  • Both a plotter and a pantser – wearing two hats
  • Successful writers are very productive
  • Writers being hermits
  • Winning a competition but having an unsatisfying experience with a Hollywood guru
  • Explaining the story craft without telling the writer what to do
  • Storification – what jumps off the page and lives in the reader’s mind e.g a moral message in a fairy tale
  • The author doesn’t need to know the ending half as much as they need to know how the story storifies. Then you can work backwards.
  • Encoding knowledge gaps which are decoded by the receiver (the reader) as meaning
  • Leaving gaps makes the reader create meaning in their own mind – puzzles for the reader to do the work
  • PG Wodehouse – books released after his death
  • The Primary Colours of Story coming out in 2019

‘He’d been rubbish but he became a genius because he worked’

Links

#59 – Rebecca Tope – Write Through The Roof

Episode #59 – Interview with cosy-mystery writer Rebecca Tope.

‘I didn’t get published until I was 50.’

  • Written 35+ murder mystery novels as a pantser
  • Coffee or gin
  • Themes of natural burials & anti-technology.
  • British cosy mysteries featuring a village pub.
  • Mobile phones affecting crime stories & the inclusion of drones
  • Practice – millions & millions of words
  • Writing groups didn’t help
  • Mentoring others helps own writing – seeing the good & bad in aspiring writers
  • Brutal feedback
  • Long apprenticeships & writing competitions
  • Biography of Sabine Baring-Gould – writer of ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’
  • Research – a lot of research done for the biography & historical fiction but little research for murder mysteries
  • Celia Fremlin (domestic suspense), Agatha Christie, Lee Child, Kate Atkinson, William de Morgan
  • Settings – real & fictitious
  • The Grasmere Grudge, Secrets in the Cotswolds, the Patterdale Plot
  • One draft

‘Readers don’t mind if they think their house is the scene of a murder.”

‘I only really do one draft.’

Links

Women of Wasps and War – cover reveal

I’m delighted to reveal the cover for my next novel – Women of Wasps and War – the Sting of Injustice.

Women of Wasps and War is a grim feminist historical fantasy inspired by a true story.

Women of Wasps and War will be released by mid-June 2019. If you’d like to keep up with the latest news, including pre-order links and a chance for a free Advance Reading Copy (ARC), make sure you join my mailing list.

Women of Wasps and War

Agata, the Duchess of Ambrovna, was never meant to take the throne. 

In a land where men rule, her sole purpose was to smile and curtsey.

However, when war left her land leaderless, the Fatherhood religion begrudgingly allowed a first; a woman to rule. 

Now the war is over and the men have returned more arrogant and cruel than ever, and the Duchess is shoved back into a life of needlework and silence.

But with her new thirst for justice, Agata is reluctant to allow her country to return to its old ways.

Without her position of power, Agata and her circle of women look to the taboo wisdom of the Wasp Women for answers. But this ancient knowledge comes with consequences, and with death and treachery on the horizon, Agata must decide whether it is worth the risk. 

Women of Wasps and War is a grim, gripping tale of power and politics, and the heart-breaking struggle between love and honour.

#58 – Patty Jansen – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 58 – Patty Jansen– award-winning science-fiction & fantasy writer

‘Don’t bore the reader. Don’t annoy the reader. Don’t confuse the reader.’

Episode 58 – Patty Jansen – Show Notes

  • Do something on the manuscript every day
  • Being a rebel and going with the flow
  • Writing after 4pm and into the evening
  • Themes – down to earth, gritty and difficult topics – sex, religion and politics. Duality in the problems the characters face.
  • Writing workshops – the value is not the critiques you receive but what you learn from reading other people’s work. The bigger the group the better
  • Handling critiques
  • Online Writing Workshop for Science-Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
  • The three rules for writing; don’t bore the reader, don’t annoy the reader & don’t confuse the reader.
  • Concentrate on telling a good story. Get a reader and an editor and don’t sweat the small stuff.
  • Non-fiction reading – the psychology of marketing and political biographies. In fiction, writers who can write across genres – Harry Potter/Robert Galbraith
  • Ambassador series – different ecosystems, politics and conspiracies, action, Kiwis in space. Currently working on book 9.


‘It is up to you. It’s not up to them to write your book.’

‘It is a fantasy setting but it obviously has reverberations in the real world.’

Links

#57 – Lucy Snyder – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 57 – Lucy Snyder– five times Bram Stoker award-winning writer

‘Tell us what characters think about what they’re seeing.’

Episode 57 – Lucy Snyder – Show Notes

  • Writing the type of fiction she’d like to read
  • Defining ‘weird fiction’
  • Science facts writing and reading informs science-fiction
  • The benefits of writing a poem a week
  • Coffee with milk
  • Themes of real-life loss and trauma mixed with the supernatural
  • Epiphany during a Clarion Writing Workshop – learning about the five-point plot structure
  • Using description as an opportunity to reinforce characterisation – what matters most is what the character thinks about what they’re seeing.
  • Popular fiction and literary fiction
  • Writing a space opera web serial – Broken Eye book Patreon – Eyedelon Magazine
  • Launchpad workshop – astronomy for writers
  • Caitlin R Kiernan, Christa Faust
  • Garden of Eldritch Delights – a collection of fantasy, science fiction & horror stories. Batching up stories of similar themes
  • Next up is the fourth book in the Jessie Shimmer urban fantasy series

‘Poetry is great cross-training’

Links

#56 – Alex Harrow – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 56 – Alex Harrow – queer SFF author

As I edited it, it just got queerer and queerer.’

Episode 56 – Alex Harrow – Show Notes

  • A secret closet pantser who also loves index cards and Scrivener – ‘dots connector’
  • Daily writer but not all writing is at the keyboard
  • Agile method of writing in sprints
  • Trinity of drinks – coffee, tea and water
  • English as a second language influenced the approach to writing from a ‘voicey‘ perspective
  • Need to see more queer characters as protagonists.
  • Found families and enemies to lovers
  • Good critique partners are essential
  • Moderator of #queerspec Twitter chat
  • The ever-expanding ‘To Be Read’ pile
  • Classic fantasy, Seanan Mcguire, Xan West, RoAnna Sylver
  • Interrupting cats
  • Getting in touch with non-readers. Understanding what stories touch people
  • Empire of Light inspired by the need for more queer protagonists in sci-fi and fantasy
  • Queering up your bookshelves.
  • Upcoming projects include an alternate history set in post war Dresden – queer Agent Carter

‘Not all writing happens at the keyboard’

‘I wrote this book out of spite’

Links

#55 – Orna Ross – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 55 – Orna Ross – poet, novelist & non-fiction writer

“Formally practising with free writing gives you all sort of training as a writer but also as a human being.”

Episode 55 – Orna Ross – Show Notes
  • Wanting to write fiction when writing non-fiction and vice versa
  • Write for the first couple of hours each day
  • Writing full time led to procrastination
  • Coffee. Never tea.
  • Themes of conversations around difference.
  • Self-awareness – free writing – writing fast, raw, exact & easy with no end-game
  • Meditate for 15 minutes, then free writing for 15 minutes, review once a week
  • Closed Facebook group
  • Creatives need to stay open to change
  • There are no short cuts to becoming a good writer
  • Ezra Pound, Yeats, George Eliot – Middlemarch, modern poetry movement – rap, performance, slams, in the pub & in the street, Instagram poetry
  • Keepers – inspirational poetry collection. Self-published as a low-risk experiment but began to question assumptions
  • Non-fiction project – Go Creative nine book series for creative business people
  • Trying a different approach to launch – once target for pre-orders is reached, the book is launched
  • Agility in independent publishing

“Writing as a stolen pleasure.”

“Coffee is the fluid of the devil.”

Read More

#54 – Sandra Ireland – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 54 – Sandra Ireland – writer of tartan gothic

“I like to be scared when I’m writing.”

Episode 54 – Sandra Ireland – Show Notes
  • Morning writing – not as creative in the afternoon
  • Goal of 500 words per day
  • Ritual of two cups of tea and one cup of coffee in favourite mug
  • Dark, creepy with a heavy dose of menace, toxic relationships
  • Landscape as a starting point for writing – sense of place to inform writing
  • Manipulating people’s fears and shadow sides.
  • Not just scaring the reader, not just horror but writing about what personally scares you. Vulnerability and readers not knowing what is imagination and what is true.
  • Currently writing non-fiction about the folklore surrounding the Mill (setting of Bone Deep). The words coming out faster with non-fiction.
  • Fiction as a therapy – creative release.
  • Giving herself the permission to be creative.
  • The tribe with the right vibe – people who understand to bounce ideas off.
    Be careful who you share your writing with.
  • Brontes, Benjamin Myers – The Gallows Pole, Julie Myerson – The Stopped Heart
  • A resurgence of gothic writing – perhaps as a reaction to current events
  • Bone Deep – inspired by work as a tour guide in a water mill. At times the mill felt unwelcoming. Modern story with a strand of an old folktale (Border Ballad).
  • The key struggle for writing students is a lack of confidence. One technique is forcing students to share their work.
  • Upcoming – The Mill (non-fiction) and The Unmaking of Ellie Rook
  • Residencies – productive but sometimes lonesome

“Write about what scares you.”

“It’s a basic human drive to be creative.”

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The Case of Charles Dexter Ward – retelling Lovecraft in a ‘Serial’ way

I’m a massive podcast fan – I’ve been listening since the iPod era – but I tend to stick to the interview style of podcasts (except for Strange Tales and the BBC Play of the Week audio drama). And despite all the acclaim and popularity, I haven’t ventured into the serialised investigative podcast genre.

But what I have been gobbling up this week is a mixture of the two – The Case of Charles Dexter Ward from BBC Radio 4.

This appeared in my podcast feed as an audio drama of an HP Lovecraft story.

Say no more, I’m in.

I press play.

Then I got confused.

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#53 – Vanessa Garcia – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 53 – Vanessa Garcia – novelist, playwright & journalist

“Write the scenes you want to write.”

Episode 53 – Vanessa Garcia – Show Notes
  • Sesame Street writers room
  • Intersperse long projects with shorter projects
  • Playwriting is collaborative with the director and scenes devised in the moment
  • Writing whenever you can.
  • Cuban coffee – cafecito
  • Obsessed with Cuba – overcoming economic and familial embargoes. Obsessed with erased stories for refugees. Motherhood.
  • Write the scenes you want to write. Don’t worry about bridges connecting the scenes.
  • Discipline. Time carved out for writing and sharing your writing
  • Hiding away from writing advice
  • Using spreadsheets for interactive theatre – audiences following different stories happening at the same time
  • Reinaldo Arenas, Leonardo Padura, TV shows ‘I’m Sorry’,’Broad City’ and kids TV.
  • Amparo – inspired by a call from a marketing company then turned into an experiential theatre work. The story of the family who created the real Havana Club Rum.

“Storytelling and then story selling.”

“There’s writing coming out of TV which is just as literary.”

Read More

#52 – Kirsten Imani Kasai – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 52 with Kirsten Imani Kasai – writer, academic & editor

“I like grit and blood and meat in my work.”

Episode 52 – Kirsten Imani Kasai – Show Notes
  • Pantser at heart using an outline as a roadmap but allowing serendipity
  • Novels allow layering
  • Tea – Yorkshire Gold with vanilla cream or port and red wine
  • Writing described as dark and weird
  • Exploring love, romance, illness, death, spirituality and metaphysics
  • A different slant on romance – short story ‘Bleat’
  • Influence of growing up in a religious family – biblical imagery and spiritual cannibalism
  • Accepting valid criticism – lyrical writing and ‘purple prose’ – limiting adjectives
  • Allowing time to get a critical eye on own work
  • Challenges with current work ‘Girlstown’ mixing visual elements, fiction and non-fiction
  • Cindy Crabb ‘Things That Help’ 90s zines, Angela Carter, Octavia Butler, Helen Zahavi – Dark Weekend
  • House of Erzulie inspired by recurring dreams of a gothic house. Researching gothic literary elements. Triptych – three narrators across time. Epistolary structure and mirroring different POVs

“Too much structure hinders the creative process.”

“The first draft is work but also play.”

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#51 – Hester Fox – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 51 with Hester Fox – artist & writer of gothic historical fiction

“A love letter to New England set at this beautiful house.”

Episode 51 – Hester Fox – Show Notes
  • Not necessarily writing every day but doing things ‘writing-related’ every day
  • Tea, snack, cosy-up with the cat or coffee shop ambience
  • Conversion from pantser to plotter
  • Dark, gothic with a happy ending – strong female relationships and romantic love
  • Embracing the darkness as an exposure therapy
  • Making every word count
  • Critique partners – sharing chapter by chapter. Feedback and accountability.
  • Cadence and rhythm in a first draft – making notes to keep the momentum going
  • 19th-century authors – Jane Austen, Dickens, Hardy. More recent – Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Susanna Kearsley, Simone St.James, Josh Malerman
  • Historic homes in New England and day job as inspiration for The Witch of Willow Hall. Interacting with objects and houses on a daily basis
  • Second novel – The Widow of Pale Harbour – 1840s Maine during Poe-mania and a gender-flipped retelling of Beauty and the Beast

“Juicy relationships set against a dark background.”

“Making every word pull its weight in a sentence.”

Read More

#50 – Cathi Stoler – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 50 with Cathi Stoler – award-winning crime writer

“When I was younger I wanted to be a spy.”

Episode 50 – Cathi Stoler – Show Notes
  • Writing crime as a pantser
  • Not a plot spreadsheet but a character spreadsheet
  • Real dialogue and real-life crimes – identity theft, fraud, violent crime and how people are affected
  • Eavesdropping
  • Crime writing conferences in the USA – Malice Domestic, Bouchercon, International Thriller Writers Conference
  • Taking classes and getting your character’s details right
  • John LeCarre, Ian Fleming, Sue Grafton, Alison Gaylin, Meghan Abbott, Catriona McPherson
  • Technology, social change and crime writing
  • Bar None

“You’re not going to commit a crime but you like to read about it.”

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Help me with a new book title

Dear Reader

I need your help with the title for an upcoming book.

The novel is a second world historical fantasy with strong feminist themes and no dragons.

The Five Rivers Civil War is over and the men are back triumphant.

The naïve Duchess hopes for a new era of equality and the downtrodden slum wife hopes her husband doesn’t return at all. But both are shoved back in their place as the men return more oppressive and cruel than ever.

With no resources, the women must resort to the old ways, the Wasp women, to fight back and right the wrongs. But who should have the right to decide who lives and who dies?

Which title do you like best?

  • The Wasp Women of Ambrovna (50%, 2 Votes)
  • The Sting of Justice (25%, 1 Votes)
  • None (25%, 1 Votes)
  • Women of Wasps and War (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 4

Loading ... Loading ...

If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment.

And for news about the ‘unnamed’ novel in 2019, make sure you’re on the mailing list.

#49 – Rosalie Morales Kearns – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 49 with Rosalie Morales Kearns – feminist fiction writer and publisher

“Do you write every day?” “I wish!”

Episode 49 – Rosalie Morales Kearns – Show Notes
  • Novels give a chance to explore characters and a long history
  • Life getting in the way of writing every day
  • Hot chocolate and milkshakes
  • Magic realism and fabulism
  • Connections – how they are formed and how they affect people
  • Being conscious of the choice of what to show ‘in scene’ or summarise
  • Example of The Frog Prince.
  • Tools to play with during revision
  • Trying to be more organised in plot outlines
  • Creating a synopsis of your novel to highlight potential plot issues
  • Charlotte Bronte, Toni Morrison, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter,
  • Alexandr Solzhenitsyn
  • Kingdom Of Women – inspiration
  • Historical saga and dealing with the balance of research

“There’s no single right way to do it.”

“Don’t over think it in the first draft.”

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Persistence – the unsexy secret to success

Today’s post is for the NaNoWriMo people amongst us and part of #NaNoInspo blog tour.

Hello NaNoers

It’s Day 7.

By now you’re probably over the initial blush of excitement which spurs on your Nano project.

If you’re lucky, the words are still flowing and you’re riding high.

But the fairy dust has probably fallen from your eyes and you’re staring into a white abyss with a stupid blinking cursor wondering what the fuck you signed up for.

I’ve done NaNoWriMo a bunch of times and for the first seven times, I flailed at about 20,000 word mark.

I learned the secret over time.

It’s not sexy.

It’s not cool.

It’s boring and hard and takes lots of time and it’s unrelenting.

But it’s the secret to writing success and probably the tip you don’t want to hear.

It’s the one thing that all successful writers have in common. No matter which genre.

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#48 – Icy Sedgwick – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 48 with Icy Sedgwick – blogger and writer of dark fantasy, gothic horror & westerns

“I couldn’t write po-faced literature if I tried.”

Episode 48 – Icy Sedgwick – Show Notes
  • Flash fiction can be more challenging and more fun than novels
  • Writing something every day but not necessarily fiction
  • Fun, entertaining, whimsical pulpy adventure. Standing up against wrongs, taking on bullies or oppressive regimes
  • Westerns – rabid fan base
  • Improving dialogue
  • The balance between ‘write what you know’ and ‘making stuff up.”
  • Plotting while keeping it fresh
  • Roald Dahl, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Oscar Wilde, JK Rowling
  • The Stolen Ghost inspired by a childhood trip to Glamis Castle. Took 11 years to finish.
  • Being a hoarder and recycling ideas
  • Finishing Book 3 of dark fantasy series

“Coffee as black as possible. As nature intended.”

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Dark Mysteries – Book Review show

Did you know I also have a little weekly book review segment on Art District Radio?

Dark Mysteries features short book reviews of crime, mystery and thriller fiction. And I only talk about books I really like.

Check me out here.

Happy reading

#47 – Grant Faulkner – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 47 with Grant Faulkner – NaNoWrimo Executive Director & writer

“One part writing boot camp, one part rollicking party”

Episode 47 – Grant Faulkner – Show Notes
  • Length of project depends on the story idea. Balancing fiction and non-fiction to better inform both styles of writing
  • Plantser
  • Writing most days – experimenting with 15 minutes per day
  • Themes – trying to look behind the veil and transgressions
  • Writing regularly – showing up and writing every day is the key
  • Active reading
  • Discipline, creative momentum, confidence
  • Trying something new by telling a story through unsent letters
  • Lydia Davis, James Salter, Denis Johnson, Elena Ferrante, Leonard Cohen, Roland Barthes
  • Pep Talks for Writer – 52 Insights and Actions to Boost Your Creative Mojo
  • Vulnerability, Creative Community, Writers Block, Playfulness, Improvisation
  • Vomit versus Gush
  • Grant issues Madeleine a challenge

“Every writer should experiment with their creative process.”

“A goal and a deadline is a creative midwife.”

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#46 – Peter McLean – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 46 with Peter McLean – urban & grimdark fantasy author

“Grimdark doesn’t work like that. If your leg gets cut off, you’re going to get gangrene.”

Episode 46 – Peter McLean – Show Notes
  • Writing binges. Plotter and pantser
  • Strong black coffee and whiskey
  • Thriller writer at heart but in the fantasy genre
  • Aftermath of war, Peaky Blinders, retired service people as sensitive readers
  • Defining “grim dark” – consequences and more in line with reality
  • Reading and writing
  • First novel published was the fourth novel completed
  • Ed McDonald, Sarah Pinborough, Crab- cakes and Courtesans – republican Athenian social history, Anna Smith Spark, Joe Abercrombie, George RR Martin, Stephen King, Tanith Lee
  • Exploring different POVs
  • Writing urban fantasy but reading swords and horses fantasy
  • Priest of Bones inspired by a gangster character in a Joe Abercrombie novel and Peaky Blinders
  • The explanation behind the name Talonwraith

“I am one of the most undisciplined writers you’ll ever meet.”

“Just years and years of practice. I don’t think there are any shortcuts.”

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Write Through The Roof – now fortnightly

Hello, Write Through The Roof listeners.

The podcast is moving to a fortnightly release schedule with the next episode dropping on Sunday 30th September.

That’s all folks.

#45 – Elizabeth Spann Craig – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 45 with Elizabeth Spann Craig – cosy mystery writer & writing tip gatherer

“Don’t discount the elderly.”

Episode 45 – Elizabeth Spann Craig – Show Notes
  • Started off as a pantser
  • Understanding your genre’s patterns
  • Muscle memory after 26 books
  • Old fashioned puzzle mysteries – escape for the reader
  • Key theme – don’t discount the elderly
  • Set the bar the low
  • Twitterific Writing tips
  • Doubling down on production and reading more
  • Agatha Christie, MC Beaton, Anthony Horowitz
  • A reader’s suggestion inspired Cleaning is Murder
  • Traditional and independent publishing – getting rights back

“Set the bar low.”

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#44 – Charles Christian – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 44 with Charles Christian – award-winning journalist, podcaster & author

“People get carried with their gadgets… and forget about the human element.”

Episode 44 – Charles Christian – Show Notes
  • Novella length is favourite length. Better for ebooks and easier to consume.
  • Writing every day and learned discipline from career as a freelance journalist
  • ‘All written out’ by freelance journalism
  • Green tea, dark chocolate, chips and baked beans
  • Exploring how one event can change the entire direction of life – JB Priestly
  • Stop doing courses and start writing your own stories
  • Stick to the brief, meet the deadline & work count – who, why, what, where, how
  • Asking the question – is this project fun to write?
  • Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, MR James, David Sedaris, Richard Brautigan
  • Genre fiction tips: less about the gadgets, more about the characters

“Get on with it and be business-like about it.”

“If I can’t be bothered reading it, I can’t expect the reader to.”

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#43 – Trevor Young – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 43 with Trevor Young – PR and marketing specialist

“If you’ve got a blog you’ve got a digital heartbeat. You’re not on rented land.”

Episode 43 – Trevor Young – Show Notes
  • Books are more permanent but blogging helps develop a writer’s conversational personal style
  • Writing in focussed short sharp bursts; doing less but doing more
  • Fiction at night with beer and non-fiction in the morning with coffee
  • Joining the dots, identifying a trend and developing a philosophy
  • Tips on writing 1300 characters micro-stories – start with one tight idea
  • Writing Melbourne Noir. Inspired by childhood reading of Ed McBain and Ian Fleming
  • With non-fiction you need to know your market but with fiction you can write what you want to read
  • Creating an alter-ego for fiction writing
  • Seth Godin, Dorie Clark
  • Micro Domination and the changing nature of blogs
  • New book coming in October 2018 – Content Marketing for PR

“Getting more done by doing a little bit every day.”

“Edit your way to greatness.”

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#42 – Valerie Stivers – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 42 with Valerie Stivers – writer, editor & journalist

“The spirit of the book comes alive when you’re cooking from it.”

Episode 42 – Valerie Stivers – Show Notes
  • Personal non-fiction is the favourite or novels if the words are flowing
  • The Muse has to know where to find you
  • Afternoon tea and scones
  • Connections between people – both non-fiction and fiction
  • Training in an old-school newsroom – learning to write concise & communicative copy
  • Time pressure of modern newsroom – erosion of standards in journalism
  • Cooking along with writing
  • “Outrun your inner critic” – from Pat Barker
  • Food styling – the skill of the photographer
  • Ivan Doig, George RR Martin
  • Eat Your Words – The Paris Review Daily

“I want to show other people what’s inside my head.”

“Those years I spent getting yelled at by old newspaper guys were priceless.”

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#41 – Nin Harris – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 41 with Nin Harris – author, poet & Gothic scholar

“I really love to dig into the guts of a novel to see how it works.”

Episode 41 – Nin Harris – Show Notes

  • Inspired to write short stories by Angela Carter
  • Both a plotter and a pantser
  • Water or rooibos tea
  • SFF and gothic but writing about the human experience
  • Identity, memory and difficult connections between people
  • Gothic in space
  • Reading carefully – go outside your fishbowl
  • Throwing books across the room – like a book poltergeist
  • Beat sheets: major beats and minor beats; cause and effect
  • Frances Hardinge, Graham Joyce
  • Different writing depending on mood. Academic v fiction writing

“The first draft does have a bit of vomit in it.”

“For me, space is very gothic.”

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#40 – Kira Leigh – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 40 with Kira Leigh– content marketer, artist, tech & games writer

“I’m a nerd so I just think of it as role-playing as another person.”

Episode 40 – Kira Leigh – Show Notes
  • Prefers long-form articles because ideas are so big
  • Playlists and peanut butter sandwiches
  • Anger
  • Nabokov
  • Trying YouTube
  • A disappointing career in tech turned into a successful writing career
  • Describes current career as ‘Tech creative’
  • The Russian Masters and random bloggers on Tumblr and reddit
  • Use of online comments to build characters
  • Writing reviews for anime
  • Reaching people is the intent of writing
  • Writing for LinkedIn

“If I feel like I’m stale, I go read Nabokov.”

“A typo is like a palette knife mark in someone’s story.”

“LinkedIn is the place to be for content writers and even artists.”

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#39 – Alexandra Sokoloff – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 39 with Alexandra Sokoloff – thriller author & screenwriter

“You are directing a movie onto the page.”

Episode 39 – Alexandra Sokoloff – Show Notes
  • Good and evil and what good people can do
  • Screenwriters have to be plotters. Journey from impro to screenwriting
  • Milk
  • Exploration of violence against women using a female serial killer
  • Using screenwriting techniques to become better authors
  • Multi-task while appearing to have a social life
  • Taking your favourite movies and working out what the classic movies are doing: Silence of the Lambs, Jaws, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Casablanca, When Harry Met Sally, The Hunger Games, The Wizard of Oz
  • Editors want a movie in their head
  • Shirley Jackson, Daphne du Maurier, Denise Mina, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, Mo Hayder, Tana French, Val McDermid
  • Huntress/FBI series – to be read in order – like a binge watch TV experience
  • Hunger Moon is an unhappy read for Trump supporters

“If you’re going to talk about good and evil, you need to talk about people and what people do.”

“I do this with a total agenda of changing rape culture.”

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#38 – Gail Carriger – Write Through The Roof

Welcome to Write Through The Roof, the podcast for writers who want to improve their craft.

Episode 38 with Gail Carriger – comedy of manners paranormal romance author

“The strength of the romance genre lies in the Heroine’s Journey.”

Episode 38 – Gail Carriger – Show Notes
  • A militant plotter and a purger
  • 2000 words per day and only re-read words written the day before
  • Novellas in the independent publishing world
  • Chronic tea drinker – import from England
  • Gentle, frivolous, strong female friendships and the help of others
  • The Heroine’s Journey
  • Give yourself permission to suck
  • Beta readers with different coloured pens and revision pass for funny
  • Scrivener
  • Moving back into YA high fantasy
  • Tamora Pierce, Mercedes Lackey
  • Queer characters and power of normalisation
  • Competence: with queer main character.
  • Shared world of characters but stories are stand-alone

“No one but you has to read your first draft.”

“My goal is at least three LOLs per page.”

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