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On Writing

What's the difference between a writer and an author? Or is there even one? I write. I'm not sure which of the two categories I fall into, or if I have a foot in both, but I write. And I do that because I can't help it.

I never have been able to.

Apparently, I started to write when I was very young, and I'd draw pictures to go along with my stories. I remember writing lots of stories in school, and English was my favourite lesson. The teacher, Mr. Staniforth, was passionate about teaching us the craft and about books. One of my main memories from that time is when he read To Kill A Mockinbird to us. Apart from it being a great story, he put feeling and heart into the telling, and we were all held under the spell. Maybe that's a romanticised version of what really happened, but that's how I felt. I wanted my stories to hold people that way.

I wanted readers to pick up something I'd written and not be able to put it down.

And now I've managed that. I've created a story that does that. It's a great, wonderful, humbling feeling.

Life, unfortunately, has a habit of getting in the way. I have a full time job. I have a family. I know I'm not even slightly alone in that - it's a club with millions of members. But it means I have very little time for writing, and, when that's something I feel I have to do - that the muse is almost a caged beast waiting to be set free - it can be hard!

Once, for various reasons, I didn't write anything for almost a full year. I wasn't 'in the right place' (or should that be the 'write' place). I hated it. I felt that writing would be a release for the problems that I was facing, but it wouldn't come. The urge wasn't there. The beast was sleeping. Or it was lying on a beach somewhere sipping cocktails, soaking up the sun, oblivious to my predicament. Other times, I can't stop. I'm chomping at the bit to get the words down, even though I never know what those words may be. On holiday last year, I went to Egypt. It was a place I'd wanted to visit since being a child. I'd always been fascinated by the pharaohs and their mythology. When I walked in the Valley of the Kings, and stayed in a hotel right on the Nile, seeing the sun set to the left and the hills of the Valley to the right, it was amazing.

I wrote 15,000 words of Sin there. It was bliss. I couldn't stop. Sin was finished a few months later. It had taken ten years from the initial short story that then formed the prologue to the novel. I'd written a great many other things in that decade, but Sin was always there, lying in wait. My 'Dark Half'. Even now, with the book finished, he can't stay quiet and keeps bugging me to finish his sequel.

I’ll get to it. Eventually.

I never know where a story will take me. I don't plan - or very rarely do - the outline or the characters. I just start. A title, a phrase, something fragmented like that, and I find out what's going to happen as it does. I suppose that's a weird way to do it. Some people can't get their heads around how I can write like that, but I do. It's a journey for me and, if I'm surprised along the way, then maybe the readers will be too?

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