Saturday, 26 April 2014

Inspired by... something

A couple of years ago I wrote a blog post about Fifty Shades of Grey which set me on the path to writing a novel, which I never imagined in a million years would get published, but somehow it is scheduled for publication by Xcite Books, the UKs leading erotic fiction publisher.

But here’s the thing: Until I read Fifty Shades I had never read any kind of erotic fiction. And in the two years since I read Fifty Shades, I haven’t read any erotica either. It’s just not what I’m into.

Ironic really!

People look at me differently now that I’ve written a mucky book. But I’m actually quite reserved when it comes to sex. I’m not the person who make innuendos left right and centre. I’m the one who blushes when anyone makes a sex joke. I’m the last person that I would have expected to have written an erotic romance novel. But then, I suppose writing fiction is all about the imagination. Vampires and werewolves don’t exist but there’s thousands of novelists creating fantastical worlds that are full of supernatural creatures. Writing fiction is the art of writing about something you barely know and making it sounds like you’re an expert.

When I was offered my publishing deal, I thought it would be a good idea to buy a book from Xcite, to see how my novel fared against their previous publications. But I just didn’t know what to buy. But then I made contact with a fellow Xcite author, Danielle Austen, on Twitter and decided to buy her previous releases.

Her 3rd novel The Ancient’s Destiny, part 3 of the Prophecy Girl Trilogy was released today. I am halfway through the 2nd part, The Magi’s Daughter after reading through Part 1, The Magician's Lover in next to no time.

Her writing style is really nice, the story just flows along and you find yourself half way through the story when you think you’ve only read a couple of pages. A rare treat indeed. What I love about the series so far is that the world in which it is set provides a great story line, with or without the sex. Take the sex out and you have a great fantasy series instead. I always imagined that erotic fiction would be full of gratuitous sex scenes with no story line. Just like porn. And I’m sure there is a lot of erotic fiction that is like that.

Danielle is very honest about her writing and recently wrote a guest blog post talking about the differences between her first two novels and why the second one is far better. I won’t repeat it all here but suffice to say, there is a valuable lesson to be learned in reading too much into what other authors are doing, or what you think is expected.

When I read The Magician’s Lover I was worried by the amount of sex scenes because in my own novel, there’s barely a hint of sex until page 55 and the first kiss doesn’t happen until page 71.

Fifty Shades of Grey, whether you love it or hate it, enjoy the story but hate the writing, love Christian Grey or think he’s abusive, one thing it did was change the way people view erotic fiction. “Mummy Porn” is such a silly term, but lately when I mention that I’ve written a novel ‘with lots of sex in it’ people’s eyes light up and they say “oooh I’d like to read that.” I don’t know how realistic Fifty Shades is considered in BDSM circles, but the reason I think it worked so well is because the sex scenes drive the story. You can’t tell a story about a man who is only capable of having Dom/Sub relationships without describing the antics between him and his submissive. It stands to reason.

I’ve stressed a little bit about there being almost a lack of sex in my novel compared to other erotic fiction, but since reading Danielle’s blog post I have stopped worrying. Inspired by Night is a romance. With the right amount of sex for the story.

I am really looking forward to reading the final part of The Prophecy Girl trilogy. You can check out Danielle’s website here and check out her novels on Amazon.

Inspired by... something

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Writing Prep

I’ve started a new notebook which is quickly filling up with ideas, snippets of dialogue and timeline ideas for novel number two.

As I was writing up ideas, I remembered all those times at school, in English Literature classes, analysing novels. I never really understood the point of it, I used to think – it’s just a story, how do we know the author even had this big obsession with the imagery of windows* or whatever we were focussing on at the time.

It seemed like complete nonsense to me, analysing these stories, quotes, themes etc. And yet here I am, doing it in reverse. I have my idea, a vague plot to the story and I’m making notes along the lines of “this happens, and then later it is revealed that he was actually doing this” or “…this links back to the initial discussion in chapter 1″ or ” sows the seeds for the thing later”

Not that there will ever be a time when school children are analysing my novels… but if anyone does ever look a little more closely at my writing at least I’ll be able to confirm that it was all planned!


* I seem to recall there being an assignment on Wuthering Heights, analysing the use of windows  and doorways throughout the novel. Never made the slightest bit of sense to me!

Writing Prep

Monday, 14 April 2014

The Desolation of my Writing

Lego The Hobbit was released on Friday. It covers the first two films: An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug. The third instalment will be available as downloadable content after the film is released.

It’s the first time in a few years that a Lego video game hasn’t become a member of our household on the day of its release, mainly because we hadn’t finished the Lego movie game and we don’t like to leave any Lego game less than 100% complete.

My other half got up early on Saturday and spent 7 hours finishing off the game so we could run out and buy the new one.

Ah that feeling when you start playing the intro level, with its tutorial elements, showing us what is new about this Lego game and what we already know from the last one.

The problem now though, is that having just made an attempt at starting novel number two, every time I get going, there’s a PS3 controller dangled in front of me and all my attention is diverted to getting a Lego Richard Armitage to smash up bricks and stuff.

So please forgive me if I veer away from my quest for realism and Olivia and Steven find themselves fighting dragons in the sequel.*

* I promise this won’t happen!

The Desolation of my Writing

How do you go about writing a novel?

One of the most common responses I get when I mention I’ve written a novel is this:

“wow, I wouldn’t even know where to start.”

I spent a lot of time before I started writing, reading blogs and hints on how to structure a novel, how story arcs should be developed and common examples.

But in the end I decided that the best way for me to approach it was to just start writing.

I did plot out a vague timeline but the finished story barely represents those initial notes because I found that as I got into it, I got to know my characters and how they behaved together started to dictate the story. The plan I started with, just didn’t quite work; it was too contrived and I really wanted to try and create something that felt real.

There are huge parts of the book that just happened without me having planned them previously. But those parts are actually my favourite plot lines and I’m so glad that they naturally developed in the process of writing.

In all honesty, when I started writing Inspired by night, I had no intention of submitting it to any publishers because I didn’t imagine I could write something worthy of publication. I am absolutely terrible at grammar and punctuation, and I’m not even particularly imaginative. But novel writing is something I’ve wanted to do since I was 9 years old (too many years ago to calculate) but I had never had the confidence to just do it, because of my terrible grasp of the written English language.

My biggest fear at the moment, is that I won’t be able to do it again! And because I didn’t really follow a particular plan, I am desperately hoping I can remember how I wrote this one so I can try and emulate the process and create a smashing sequel!

So how do you write a novel? I don’t really know, but I’m hoping that with enough practice I’ll work it out!

How do you go about writing a novel?

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

A long absence

It's been a long time since I did any blogging on here, and for that I apologise.

I haven't been completely absent from writing, however. My business has been pertty busy over the last year or so and I've concentrated a lot of my writing time on the company blog, talking about all manner of digital, IT related things and promoting the services we offer.

But I also decided to have a go at writing a novel. I've tried and failed on many occasions to write a novel, but following some feedback I got on here from my Fifty Shades of Grey post, I was inspired to have a go at it myself.

I finished my first draft about 18 months ago and I sent it off to a few choice friends to read, in the hope of gaining some honest feedback - either 'you should totally send this off to a publisher' or 'oh dear, this is truly terrible, let's never speak of this again.'

I got a few really constructive bits of feedback and made some significant changes to the story line and then sent it out again to the same people and to some new guinea pigs, because I wanted to see if my improvements had made the final plot twist more surprising than it had been first time round.

But no one got back to me. I didn't want to appear desperate so in the end I stopped asking people if they had read it and decided that, rather than waiting to see if my friends thought it was good enough for publication, I'd ask the experts and I finally plucked up the courage to send it off to 3 publishing companies, fully prepared for a long wait followed by 3 rejections.

Less than 6 weeks later I was offered a publishing deal.

I still can't quite believe it. But my debut novel, 'Inspired by Night' will be released on 22nd August 2014 by Xcite Books.

I love saying that!

*skips on the spot*