Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Evil and The Fear

Hello people. Flora has kindly invited me to blog on “The Evil and the Fear” and its publication.

Getting “The Evil and the Fear” published was not easy. Even on the back of “Expect Civilian Casualties” and all the reviews/attention it generated. It seems having one book published does not make you hot property.

The publisher, Firedance Books, is prepared to look at work that is out of the safe zone of big publishers hit by recession – who often fall back on “safe sales”.
Firedance likes ground-breaking, not formulaic. But my telling the story of a psychotic 17 year old girl may have had even them fainting around the board table.
Writing the story certainly burned a few of my neurons out.
When writing “Expect Civilian Casualties”, I had to spend months in the head of Jason (the main character) in order to write his story.
Like an actor, a writer has to be the principle character, the main characters and the rest. I would walk downstairs and think, ‘how would Jason, at 17, walk down these... why? How would he switch a kettle on? (and, given Jason’s mind), how would he feel about kettles/electricity/kitchens – or even being in a house? He struggles with most of these, and has a particularly hard time with televisions and entering buildings.
However, in his own environment he’s breathtaking, oozing confidence and enthusiasm. The contrast was wonderful to work with.

So what was it like to be a 17 year old woman with serious problems? Being Beatha, (Pronounced ‘BAY-ah’) in “The Evil and the Fear...” was a wonderful roller-coaster ride. I spent months immersed in her mind. But, like a real person, she took over her character, told me what she did and how she felt about herself and the world... I merely recorded everything.
Oddly, it’s not her great struggle, or how she inspired people around her, that make me love Beatha. Instead, it’s the little things she did, lying on her bed and crying over a map, drawing on the hand of a friend, and that manic moment in which she scrambled the minds of two police officers who wanted a statement.
Take four ordinary people, put them in extraordinary situations and they’ll make a story for you.
James’s firework personality, his heroics, Mark’s gentle, but unshakable, loyalty, Ailie’s mischief and enthusiasm for life... characters are so real when you’re immersed in them.

Characters taking over a book? Oh yes.

I’m working with another writer on a collaborative three part SF series at the moment (samples on http://writerlot.net/). We intended it to be an action story aimed at men. However, the character Jeanette, trapped in an abusive marriage, struggling with rapid promotion as a fighter pilot, and trying to get her little girls through a war, stormed into the story and made it clear she was the main focus. How did that happen?
Who cares? the audience is enthusiastic and growing. Men and women alike going to WriterLot each week to see what happens next.

As some of you will know, writing is immersive, addictive and can take over your life. Getting your work published, however, is unbelievably hard. A tiny fraction of new writers find it easy through luck perhaps, but the rest of us must struggle for years to get noticed.

Hurray for Firedance – an adventurous publisher. A glance at, “Tales of the Shonri”, “The Walker’s Daughter”, “Out
of Nowhere”, “Stillness Dancing” etc, is a bit of a hint.
Firedance also seem to have read the market well – judging by the reviews on the books they publish.
They are pretty demanding of the writers too. We are expected to critique the other Firedance writers’ work, beta
read, structurally edit, copy edit, proof read... and keep up with social networking and current work from other publishers.
However, Firedance is totally committed to the author – and give unrivalled support. What other publisher helps a writer in the very beginnings of an idea? or puts so many readers and structural editors on the writer’s work? I’m sure there are a few – but being part of the Firedance stable is an inspiration in itself.

So what happens after the Evil and the Fear? Well, I have another YA, two fantasy and two post-apocalyptic books written and awaiting publication. That will probably take years. The SF series is most likely to go out first as it has such a following.
Christy and I have yet to write the third story, though we’ve planned it thoroughly. Two people working on one project is mind blowing – I recommend collaboration to any writers out there. We hope the book is a similarly exciting experience for the reader. Watch this space! :)

Gary Bonn, Cambridge, UK, July, 2013.

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