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.