Wednesday, May 29, 2013
As it turned out, being rejected by traditional publishers was a good thing, and the boom in self-publishing came along at just the right time, or the books would probably never have been published. Perhaps the worst part of the traditional publishers’ rejections was that they didn’t give reasons for them, except one, which said the familiar idea was too similar to another book they were publishing, although those familiars were all insects. Self-publishing has allowed me complete artistic control and enabled me to offer the books at low prices, so I’m happy about that. I’d have had huge problems with editors telling me to change stuff.
I think one of the reasons The Queen’s Blade is hard to predict is because it has no plot. It’s just a series of events based on the characters’ decisions and the consequences thereof, and I don’t always like what they get up to. They told the story, though. I’m just the ‘scribe’. The ideas Blade came up with and the lies he told had me gobsmacked. He’s a lot cleverer than me, and definitely much more devious.
I enjoy all aspects of writing. It’s my favourite thing to do. When I’m in the ‘zone’, it’s like I’m in that world, with the characters, watching and listening to them, and, depending on whose point of view I’m channelling, sharing their thoughts, too. Some writers say it’s best only to write from the main characters’ points of view, but I have no choice in the matter. It allows me to escape the harsh reality of my humdrum existence. I much prefer imaginary worlds, which is probably why I spend so much time there!
When I’m channelling, the only thing that slows me down is my typing speed, and sometimes I go back and embellish descriptions later, if the story’s moving particularly fast when I channel, but most of the time I manage to describe things pretty well the first time around. I find I can ‘pause’ the story if I need to describe the surroundings, but sometimes I want to get on with it and find out what happens next.
The really weird thing is I can’t change anything! When I edit, I sometimes think of a better way to describe a certain scene, without actually changing what happened, but then I always change it back again. It just isn’t right any other way. I can enhance background info, but not actions or conversations. Also, sometimes I’m asked why something happened the way it did, and I have to figure it out, because I honestly had no idea when I wrote it. I also get information that I have no knowledge of, things I’ve never done or learnt about, yet when I research it afterwards, I find that what I’ve written is correct. It’s kind of creepy.
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
So many people have asked me why I write, and what my process is. The first is simple: I write because I enjoy it so much, and so that I can read the books again. They gathered dust on hard drives and floppy disks and then stiffy disk backups for over 20 years, and some were lost due to corrupt backups, a stolen PC and a crashed laptop. I had no plans to even try to have them published in the beginning, but, after writing so many, I decided to give it a bash. No one else had read them, at that stage. Self-publishing was easy. Marketing was the hard part, but I didn’t expect much, so I made the first books free and left the rest up to fate.
My writing process is also very simple: I just watch the film in my mind. I totally lose all track of time when I’m writing. I’m in that world, not this one. I only stop when my coffee mug runs dry and for potty breaks; things that drag me back to reality because they have to be urgently remedied, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to drink from an empty mug. My longest stint was fourteen hours, from about ten pm to midday the following day, during which time I wrote over twelve thousand words – which I only discovered when I stopped.
I wrote the prequels to The Queen’s Blade a few years after I finished the series, at the suggestion of a fellow writer. Writing them was quite strange for me, because I already knew some of what had happened from Blade’s memories, which is not normal for me. I don’t feel like the books are the result of my skills and ideas. It’s like I’m a chronicler, and the stories come from somewhere else. When I’m writing, it’s as if the story downloads into my mind while I’m doing everyday things, and then I purge it into the computer. Sometimes I’ll get a lot, and sometimes not so much, and I just have to read a few pages of what I wrote the previous day to get hooked back into the channel again, and then it just flows. The story kind of grinds to a halt after a few hours, either because I’ve purged the download for the day or because I’m too tired, then I go to bed.
The next day, the process happens again. The story in my mind stays on hold until I write it, so I won’t get more until I’ve written that part, nor will it disappear. I can’t even access it until I write it. I just know it’s there. So a typical day when I’m writing is pretty ordinary until I ‘zone out’, which I prefer to do at night, when it’s quiet, which makes me nocturnal.
Friday, May 17, 2013
I have removed all the paperback versions of The Queen’s Blade from Amazon, because it marked them up to exorbitant prices, and I don’t want readers being ripped off like that. Amazon also keeps the extra bucks, thereby making a killing out of every book it sells, even more than I make, because the prices I chose are barely more than cost. I have no wish to make people pay through the nose, but Amazon was doing it without my consent.
Therefore, the paperbacks are now only available at CreateSpace.com, at the prices I chose. It means I sell a lot less – hardly any – but I’d rather that than have people pay Amazon’s rip off prices. So far, I’ve only converted The Queen’s Blade into paperback format – it’s a lot of work – and Demon Lord, Book One, due to a special request for two autographed copies. Once I’ve finished the final edit of all the series, I’ll re-do The Queen’s Blade and then convert the rest of the series, even though I haven’t sold many copies. It’s mostly for me, so I can have hard copies for my bookshelf.
I’m sure most people will still prefer e-books, which are so much more convenient, and cheaper. Paperbacks have costs involved – paper, printing, ink, shipping, etc. – so they’re a lot more expensive to produce. The conversion is time-consuming, as is making the covers for them, and I’d rather spend my time writing new books. I will get around to making all the series in paperbacks, however, just as soon as I can.
Saturday, May 11, 2013
I received some interesting questions via email this week, one of which was about the time period that The Queen’s Blade is set in, and what countries the kingdoms there resemble. The time period doesn't really conform to any Earth norms, but it's similar to a feudal era, with a slightly more modern language amongst the commoners. Jashimari is similar to feudal France or Britain, with a bit of an exotic Eastern influence. Cotti resembles Arabia at that time period, I would say, except for the people, who are more like tanned Teutons, and Contara is a mixture of the two. I hadn't really considered what Earth-type cultural or historical similarities they might have, but those are the best parallels I can draw.
Another reader asked about my inspiration… That's a tough question! There isn't any one thing that inspires me. Mostly, I think it's my characters, whom I love to write about and share in their adventures, and sometimes it's what's happening in the world around me. Often, it's a way to escape my own dull life and explore strange worlds, too. I've always been a dreamer, and channelling adventures in other worlds is even better than going on holiday.
I also had a question about producing a signed edition of The Queen’s Blade. I would love to offer a signed edition, only the postage, if they're sent to me and then I post them to the readers, is exorbitant from South Africa, where the post office charges according to weight. I could print the books with a signature in them, but it wouldn't be a genuine signed copy, as the signature would be printed. I'm not sure if that would be as good.
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Editing seems to be a never-ending task, but it has to end sometime, or I'll never write anything new. When The Queen’s Blade was selected as ‘Book of the Week’ by Apple iBookstore at the end of March, I decided to go through it again and try to improve it further, since its popularity has grown so much. Of course, I found plenty to fix, and tried to make it more concise, editing out some overly flowery prose that bugged me, and some repetition, too. My trusty editor also went through the books, and found plenty of typos and mistakes. So, those are all re-edited and uploaded again, and then I had to do the other series. I’m currently working on Demon Lord, and still have the last two books of The Broken World to do. Then I’m finished at last, and this is definitely the final edit, which is why it’s also the most thorough and, I hope, will eliminate 99% of the errors.
After this, I’m going to write some new books. I almost continued Slave Empire, but then I edited Demon Lord and got sucked into that, so I’ll probably continue that one next instead. I find that whichever series I read gains me a ‘hook’ into that particular channel. To all those readers who ask whether or not I’ll be continuing a series, the answer is a resounding yes, most definitely; all of them. It’s so encouraging that readers want more of all the series, and the emails I receive are amazing! Thank you to everyone who’s written to me, and keep them coming! I always reply.
Many people have expressed a wish for The Queen’s Blade to be made into a series of films or a TV series, and I echo it. If there are any producers or directors out there who are looking for a fantasy series to make into a series of films, I hope they contact me. I would love to see the story brought to life, and solve the riddle of who would play the role of Blade, which will be hard to do well; a challenge for any actor.