When I was younger, I wanted to be a comic book artist. Even in my early twenties, I thought I could be one - even though I didn't draw every day or make comic strips when I did. So the first appearance of Nathaniel Rane was as a comic book hero. Somewhere I have a sketch dated from 1999 of the character. I used to have little stories of him playing in my mind so it seems right that he is the hero of a proper book. I still like to draw every now and then - more so now my little boy appreciates it. My ability to draw any superhero may well be a sign of a misspent youth but it really impresses a three year old boy!
So to help keep my drawing skills alive, I've decided to do a daily sketch in an old moleskin note book. Above is today's. I'm not spending too much time on it but just enough to do something half-decent for me.
I passed the 10,000 word mark today and hopefully I can catch up on my word count for the week.The last two days were very frustrating for me. I think I only managed 350 words on Wednesday and 500 yesterday. It's hard when you have a demanding day job but I can't let that be an excuse. If I can get it up to 11,000 today, I'll have caught up with the schedule.
I'm pleased with how it's going so far. The interesting thing on this one is I only have the one Point Of View character where as in my previous books I've had two which helps if you need to move things a long quickly or even just unblock my thinking but with this one it's just a chap called Nathaniel.
I've got a bit of a playlist going on to write to - but its still sci-fi stuff like the Edge Of Tomorrow soundtrack. The music from Game of Thrones is making an appearance as well plus some Spaghetti Western tunes. I can't listen to anything w ith words as they clash with the ones in my head
The last book I wrote was a sci-fi thriller that I described as a cyber-punk 24. Set in 23rd Century Hong Kong, the Chinese Empire covers three-quarters of the world, from Shanghai in the East to Los Angeles in the West. American terrorists arrive in Hong Kong to assassinate the heir to the Empire and only his bodyguard, Ziyi, stands in their way. Above is the fake book cover I made while I was working on it - again apologies to everyone who's work I've remixed into this image!
The book currently stands at 8500 words so I've managed a week so far of achieving my targets. However, yesterday I only managed 300 instead of a 1000 as lots of things were happening in my day job. This morning I got up at 5am and managed 800 so I might still be able to catch up a bit at lunch time. I'm not going to beat myself up over word counts though. At the end of the day, its quality that matters.
I'm not one normally for inspirational quotes but the above card was given to me on my birthday three years ago by my wife. It reminds me that I'm on a journey where there are no short cuts, only hard work and what I do I do for my own enjoyment first and foremost - otherwise its not worth doing. (It also reminds me that I have an awesome and very supportive wife who has always supported my dream to write).
I love comics. I have done since the age of three or four when my best friend's big brother introduced me to the black and white reprints of Marvel Comics we had here in the UK. Kirby and Lee's Fantastic Four, Roy Thomas and John Buscema's Avengers. I could even read them but they blew my mind. And 40 odd years later, I still love them. Obviously my tastes have changed a bit (I still love the old stuff but Marvel just don't make superhero comics like they used to) and my favourite is Lazarus by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark. I literally count down the days until a new one comes out and rush down the comic shop to pick up each issue. I've also bought the collected editions and will but the hardcover when it comes out. It's just that good.
Both creators are on the top of their game with this very real dystopian tale of a genetically created warrior protecting her family's interests and honour. Extreme violence is superbly balanced with emotional heart. I'd love to see this as an HBO series. Four colour perfection.
It's Saturday morning and my alarm went off at 5.15. A part of me thought I must be mad but I have things to do today - the most important part of which is to spend quality time with my family. So I have to make the most of the early hours while they still sleep. I managed to write 350 words out of my minimum 1,000 I have to write today and then I drove up to Wimbledon Common and went for a run. I'm still suffering the after effects of a nasty cough so it wasn't the easiest of runs nor the longest but I still managed 4k up and down hills.
I love running through the countryside. It's easy to imagine you're back in time as you follow dirt tracks that go who knows where. And, after a hard week at work, it really helps to unclog my mind.
Too many people rely on food or drink or drugs to deal with depression or stress when really the best thing out there is to just do a little exercise and remember you are alive.
I got feedback last night from my agent and it was overwhelmingly positive. To be honest I was just happy getting notes. Writing has been a very solitary occupation for me up until now - something done while others sleep or are away at lunch. Conversations about character and setting happened in my head and no one else. So to have someone to actually discuss things with is incredible in itself and it was very encouraging to hear positive things back. The word 'magnificent' was actually used.
However there was one question in it that really summed up my new reality: "What kind of time-scale are you thinking for delivering a first draft?"
Up until now I only wrote at my own speed, finding time here and there. CRY HAVOC took two and a half years to write. SWITCH/BLADE took just under a year. However I'm no longer writing just for my pleasure and telling my agent to wait a year isn't really an option. So now's the time I have to be very disciplined about things. If I manage 1,000 words a day during the week and 2,000 words every Saturday and Sunday, I can get the first draft done by December. Its ambitious but I think doable. And that's what I'm aiming for.
A week ago I went along to Waterstone's in Kensington for an event organised by the website Fantasy-Faction.com who I used to write for. They had arranged a Grim Gathering of four amazing authors - Peter V. Brett, Myke Cole, Joe Abercrombie and Mark Lawrence. Nearly two hundred people gathered in the basement for an hour's witty banter between the writers and then a mass signing session.
It was called the Grim Gathering after the GrimDark movement all the authors are kind of associated with - but I personally wouldn't put Peter and Myke in that category myself. However Joe is absolutely Lord GrimDark and Mark is the grimmest of them all. I actually stopped reading King of Thorns when a dog was killed - a subject that came up a lot that night. I do mean to finish that book as well as the following two and they rest in my TBR pile at home.
The hour went by far too quickly and personally I'd love to have heard more from them but always best to leave people wanting I suppose.
Afterwards everyone got together in a nearby (and very strange) bar. I had a lot of fun and met some fellow fantasy enthusiasts (who made me feel quite normal in my collecting habits compared to theirs). I also had a good catch up with Myke, who I know from my NYC days. He's just the loveliest guy with the ability to make everyone feel like they are his best friend. Considering we hadn't seen each other for 18 months, he not only recognised me but remembered everything we'd talked about the last time we'd met. Sometimes I can't remember what I talked about yesterday and I'm terrible with names. He has a very unnatural ability in that regard. And a super nice guy too. If you haven't read his books, go get them now.
So I've just sent my book outline off to my agent for his thoughts/comments. Whilst exciting, I feel a certain amount of "Eeek" at doing this. I don't think anyone in a creative position ever sits back and thinks "This is bloody genius" but they do hope people will think what they've done is good and I'm no different. I'm excited by what I've done and feel like it's all a nice twist on the norm. Hopefully he'll feel the same.