• The Story Behind the Book

    Dealing with Reviews

    I write reviews. And I write some scathing reviews. But when I do that, I try and deconstruct why I don’t believe the story works. There can be a lot of reasons for this: from bad plotting to thin characterisations to tonal inconsistency (and then lots of stuff in-between). The overriding priority is identifying what the story’s trying to do. This comes from my years as an editor. When I ran editing workshops, I’d instruct the participants to talk to the author and understand what they’re attempting. Disaster looms when the author and the editor aren’t simpatico. For example, if the author’s written a book they believe is a a…

  • The Story Behind the Book

    August Falling: Music and Its Role

    When I was younger, I was able to write through anything. It wasn’t uncommon to have the radio blaring in the background. As I got older, the ads started to irritate me – well, those annoying ones (“Hello! Hello!”) where somebody was talking right at you. They always broke my concentration. Listening to CDs helped solve that problem. Originally, I’d just play anything. But as I grew more experienced and idiosyncratic (as a writer) I’d chose music that tonally suited whatever I was writing. It helped get me in the right mood and created a mindset that contributed to the story. When I was thirty, I went through terrible clusters…

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