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12 May 2014

My Writing Process

'My Writing Process' is a blog tour that asks authors/writers to give us an insight into and talk about their writing.  I was invited to participate by Colin D Smith, an as-yet unpublished writer who is currently working with beta readers on his YA Historical/Sci-Fi novel A Teenage Alien in Victorian London.  So thank you very much, Colin, and here are my answers! :)

What am I working on?

At the moment I'm in the last stages of revising my YA horror novel Beast Inside before I start looking for beta readers.  It mainly revolves around Luca, my MC, who loses his twin brother, Caleb, to a sudden and mysterious illness.  However, after his brother's funeral he finds that Caleb had come back from the dead and there's something very inhuman about him.  As more people start to go missing or are found dead thanks to Caleb, Luca realises that he might have to take on the responsibility of putting a stop to his brother for good... that is, if he can actually do it.

Apart from that I've started writing the second draft of a project involving modern day witch hunts and a small group of teenage witches who dangerously start a rebellion against their government's ban on witchcraft.  I've also started a couple of short stories, both horror.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

In a way I'm not being very different because I'm writing about vampires and there's a whole list of vampire fiction out there, way before I even came up with this story or was born in fact.  I guess what might be different is the kind of vampire I'm writing about.  My story is no way in hell romantic and the vampires aren't the good looking kind you get these days.  I've gone back to the times when vampires were always the antagonists.  They were the epitome of evil and needed to be stopped.  They're pretty much walking corpses as well.  Nothing hot about them.  Don't expect me to have any vampires like Spike from Buffy or Edward Cullen from Twilight.  Mine stink of death, they look dead and have a very grey, vein-y look going on.  Not a great look.  Think the 1979 version of 'Salem's Lot.  Actually, that film pretty much inspired how mine look so here's a picture:

 Why do I write what I do?

I've always been a horror nut.  When I was a kid in the 90s I grew up with the likes of Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark?. When I was a teenager in the 00s I was hooked on Point Horror stories and The Saga of Darren Shan.  I've always watched or read things that had horror/paranormal elements to them.  It was just something I have always loved.  I liked to read about characters who were thrown into unusual and scary situations whether it's due to a slasher roaming the woods or a paranormal threat.  And I think with horror you can really mess around with characters which I'll admit I like to do. ;) You can push them and throw a ton of horrific scenarios in their face and watch them go into this determined survival mode as they try to overcome the threat.  Horror is a very merciless genre and I think I can get away more with unhappier or bittersweet endings.  By the way, I am actually a very nice person. =D

Why did I want to write about vampires especially? In horror, vampires have always been my favourite.  Again, not the romantic sort we get today.  I like the scary ones. The nasty, demonic villains that try and ruin your life.  I grew up with The Lost Boys, Fright Night (the 1985 version) Near Dark and Buffy where vampires were plain evil (let's ignore that soul thing Angel and Spike were into) and I love that type of vampire.  They're fun to write about when they're wreaking havoc around the suburbs. It's how I personally prefer my vampires.

How does your writing process work?

I'm in that in between part of being a pantser or a plotter.  I make notes on characters, I write out the research I find and want to use for the WiP I'm working on, and I like to have a beginning, middle, and end.  And that's as far as I'll go with planning.  I used to try and plot every little detail but then I found that whatever I wrote ended up going in a different direction or characters would end up having a completely different role to what I originally came up with for them.  In the end I learned that all I need is a brief and basic idea of what's going to happen and I wing it from there.  I think the characters are the one thing I go very detailed on.  Even if I don't use half the things I come up with for them in the story I always like to know my characters very well.

I'm one of those writers who has playlists.  Yep, I raise my hand to admit it but I don't go starting a playlist intentionally. I just end up hearing songs that fit well and keep the inspiration going so I create one.  Sometimes when I'm not writing and I'm doing something like getting ready on a morning, cooking or tidying the house I'll have a playlist on for a certain WiP and listening to the songs can help come up with further ideas or what could happen in the next chapter.

I always write the first draft on the computer and I've usually completed the draft during NaNo which has really helped me to get into the mind set of getting on with things and write a story without worrying about the quality of it and trying not to let the inner editor out.  I write the second draft longhand, working mainly on the plot and the writing, and when that's finished it's back to typing it all up on the computer.

As for when I write, I squeeze it in whenever I can.  I work as a teaching assistant at the moment so my free time is at weekends, evenings, and school holidays.  If I'm writing longhand for a draft I'll take my notebook in to work and see if I can get a little bit of writing done during my lunch break.  I don't write every day which I know a lot of authors advise you to do but I have hypermobility and get a lot of strain in my wrists and fingers if I use the computer a lot.  Luckily it's benign but it's still enough to get quite painful, even to write longhand. 

And that's everything! Be sure to check out the next two participants next Monday!

Laura Crampton is an aspiring YA author who is currently editing two novels: The Invincible Penny Lane and The Moment to Live For, a YA Sci-Fi and YA Contemporary.

Rebecca Barrow is another aspiring YA author who writes contemporary and a fellow Brit who you're most likely to find at the library.


  1. I love your desk space. So colourful!

    I had over 30 Point Horror books at one time in my life. I don't think I have anymore. I graduated to Stephen King and James Herbert ;)

    ^_^ I am a willing and ready beta reader!

    1. I gave a lot of my old horror books away. All my Goosebumps which I want back now haha. Like you I switched them all for Stephen King!

      Yay, thank you! I'm going to get my arse in gear and get it all ready! =D

  2. You seem like a nice person, Robin. But what was it Stephen King used to say? "I have the heart of child... I keep it in a jar on my desk." ;)

    Seriously, though, you're one of the first YA horror writers I got to know, so you are responsible for introducing me to yet another aspect of the genre. While horror's not my "thing," I like to see how people write classic horror tropes without being cliched. For me, these things are good to draw on when I need to write a creepy scene, or something suspenseful or frightening. So thanks! :)

    And you write a long-hand draft? Interesting. I started out writing the whole novel long-hand, then typing it up and revising on the PC. Eventually, I got tired of copying everything from notebooks and went to doing it all on the PC. However, there is something about pen-on-paper that's special, which is possibly why I still make plot and character notes on paper.

    Thanks for participating, Robin! You can sign me up for beta reading too, if you like. I had such a good experience with my beta readers, I'd love the opportunity to pay it forward. Besides, I'm about to start querying, so I need something to keep me distracted from the inbox. ;)

  3. I used to loooove Point Horror…especially the vampire ones! There was one about a girl whose room was in a turret of a house and a vampire who smelled like mould appeared in her room…something like that, haha! I don't mind the hot vampires every once in a while, but for real horror, yeah, they need to be disgusting and terrifying and real VAMPIRES.

    And I can't believe you write your second drafts longhand--that's some dedication! I could never--not even for how long it would take, but because my writing can be illegible and translating myself back is so hard sometimes!

    Better get my post ready for Monday :)