This section of the site...
is for all the writers out there! I love to write, it’s the best thing on the planet, but I know how hard it can be. Sometimes words aren’t your friends, sometimes ideas are as hard to catch as invisible ninja chickens, sometimes the last thing you want to do is sit down and write. I can’t promise to help with every problem, but I’ll add as many articles, videos, podcasts and hints and tips here as I can. And if you have any questions about anything to do with writing, just ask!
The articles will mostly take the form of blog posts, so I can list them all here! It will take me a while to add them all, but bear with me!
My latest book is called The Fury, so it won’t be a surprise to know that one of the main themes of the story is anger. The Fury is about what would happen if one day, without warning, the entire world turned against you – your mum and dad, your brothers and sisters, your friends and teachers, everyone, came after you and tried to tear you to pieces. By just being near them you turn family and strangers alike into mindless, bloodthirsty ferals who want to kill you, and only you. I don’t want to give away too much information about why this happens, I’ll just say that it’s a reaction driven by a very unique kind of rage – or outrage. But the fury in the book doesn’t only belong to the ‘ferals’, as they are called. The main characters have their own anger, their own inner rage, and it’s this I’d like to talk about.
I love to travel, I love to see the world. For me it’s an essential part of writing, because those experiences widen your mind and bring so much depth to your work. But with a whole planet out there it’s easy to overlook the place you call home, so this is a cool opportunity to appreciate everything that’s great about the world outside my own window!
I was debating which influences and inspirations to talk about today when it occurred to me that the answer was being pumped out of my stereo speakers at six billion decibels. I’m currently listening to a track from Two Steps From Hell’s album, Archangel. It is essentially movie trailer music (these guys write music for the big blockbuster trailers), you know, all drama and fire and action designed to get the pulse pounding. It’s incredible how much influence music – all music – has on your mood, your thoughts, your dreams, your decisions. It completely changes your frame of mind (well, mine anyway, but then I am quite impressionable). And it’s amazing for your writing too.
Inspiration can come from a million different places, but with Lockdown I had a single goal: to write the most terrifying book imaginable. To do this, I decided to write about my own worst nightmares, which include being buried alive in a prison a mile beneath the surface, being locked away in the dark, in a tiny cell, for the rest of my life, being hunted by freaks in gas masks and mutated dogs, and being turned into a bloodthirsty monster.
So much of the writing process happens, for me at least, while I’m doing other things. I never plan my books, beyond a very rough, very changeable outline. I don’t like to know what’s going to happen before the characters do, because it seems to remove their motivation, gives them a safety net and stops them behaving the way real people would (none of us can see the future, after all). Instead, I just spend time getting to know the people in the story, and the world they inhabit. Essentially, this means daydreaming. A lot of daydreaming.
In a nutshell, this workshop is about pacing, especially during action scenes, and I called it ‘Writing at the Speed of Life’ for a couple of reasons. The first is that I want to talk about Mimetic Writing, how the writing should imitate the action inside a scene. The second is that I want to talk about ‘living’ rather than plotting – the act of throwing yourself into the story and literally writing it as you live it.
Scaring your readers is hard. Kids these days have seen everything before – if they haven’t read about it then they’ve sure seen it in a film or in a video game. Concepts and imagery that once upon a time would have been terrifying have become familiar, and familiarity makes them stale. Kids know these tropes and clichés because they have seen them before, and to know something is to take away the inherent horror of it.
Horror isn’t just recommended for teenagers, it should be essential reading! Part of the reason teenagers love horror so much is that it shows them they can face up to any challenge, any threat, and come away victorious – which is so important during a time when you struggle for authority and control. Teenagers face the unknown every day, and are often powerless against it. It is a time of angst, fear, the unknown, powerlessness – the key features of horror.
I think those exclamation marks and that smiley face are the perfect introduction to what I wanted to talk about today. It’s funny, as when I meet people who have read my books they are often quite surprised. A common reaction is something along the lines of, ‘Oh, you’re quite nice in real life, I thought you’d be a horrible, furious serial killer or something.’ The irony is that even though I’m the author of The Fury, I can’t imagine a less furious person than myself!