About Me

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I am an aspiring writer living and working in Hull. I working on a novel, as well as writing short stories to keep my writing skills fresh. I decided to start a writing blog to connect with other writers. So please, take a look around and leave some comments - I'd love to read some of your writing blogs too. Nari X

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

An Evening with Peter V Brett

Yesterday evening, I had the privilege of meeting and chatting with Peter Brett, author of The Demon Cycle books. As you may have gathered so far in this blog, I am a very big fan of his, so it meant a lot to me to finally meet the man himself. 

Peter Brett is currently on a UK tour, which started yesterday at Waterstones Deansgate in Manchester with the event 'An Evening with Peter V Brett'. The date was added as an extra to the tour due to high demand, and I think I can safely say Peat did not regret it. The turnout was great and the event sold out. Peat told us it was his biggest crowd so far (from the US tour). 

Rob and I with Peat
Rob and I made a day of it, took time off work and headed to Manchester around lunchtime. We spent a lot of time in Forbidden Planet geeking out, and of course, in Waterstones. It is an impressive bookshop, far bigger than our one in Hull; it even has 3 floors. 
I found myself in my element, sat on the floor in the philosophy section flicking through books. I love a good bookshop. It’s just not quite the same, visiting Amazon and clicking a few buttons.

We were lucky enough to get front row seats. I say lucky – we had been lingering on the first floor of Waterstones for an hour and a half. We had spotted many other lingerers clutching copies of The Daylight War, so were slowly edging our way towards the door. There was a point at which a collective decision was made. We needed a queue. Things were not quite tidy enough, and a queue materialised in a matter of seconds. Rob and I were third in the queue, and thus, we ended up in the front row. Forgive me, but as a Brit, I love a good story about a queue.

We got chatting to some of the people around us – one guy called Robert had come from Germany, though it had been a happy coincidence as he didn’t know about the signing before. It was lovely to be around so many of Peat’s fans.
When Peat arrived, he seemed very excited that so many of us had turned up and took a picture of us all on his iPad to show his Mum he had a ‘real’ job. You can find this picture on his Facebook page (though unfortunately, rob and I were cut out.)

Myself with Peat
Then he did a Q and A, which was absolutely brilliant. Everyone asked decent questions, and he gave fluid, detailed answers to each of them. Questions ranged from ‘What do you like to read,’ to ‘If, God forbid, anything happened to you, who, if anyone, would you trust to finish your books?’

I would love to break down each question specifically and detail his responses, though this would a) take hours to write and read and b) require a much higher memory capacity than the one fitted in my brain. I guess this is why I am not a journalist.
So I will instead give an overview of what I remember and what I took away from his answers.

Peat began by speaking about what books he likes to read, and told us how George R.R Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series had changed a lot about the way he looked at writing.
Brett uses several different points of view in his books, and he spoke a little about how this came about; the story was originally from one POV only, and it became clear that this would not work for the story. It helps keep the story going to introduce a fresh perspective every now and then, and also gave him a break from each character as he wrote.

He also spoke about some of his other works, including the novellas, Brayan's Gold and The Great Bazaar, The comic Red Sonja:Unchained, and a short story featured in an anthology called Unfettered, put together by Shawn Speakman. This is due to be released in the Spring, which I am very excited about. There are many other great authors in there too.

Peat was also asked some questions about how he writes, which of course had me listening very intently. He explained how much detailed planning goes into each of his books, including bulleted summaries of each chapter and an ending in mind. He always knows where it's going, and will not set out with a story until he does, because he finds that free writing presents the danger of 'writing yourself into a corner'. He made it very clear, however, that this is how it works for him; there are those for whom free writing works, however it has been his experience that the key to a story is knowing what it is leading up to. 

I plucked up the courage to ask him a question myself. Rob had challenged me to come up with a good question and ask him. Sounds simple, I know, but this is the kind of opportunity I have often missed in my life through hesitation and nervousness. This time, I did myself proud. 
The question I asked him was this; 

'Do you remember the point at which writing became more than just a hobby - the point at which it all became real for you?'

He had been writing for a while and had a few pieces in the works including draft of a novel. Working in publishing at the time, he became friends with an agent, who, upon hearing he had work he hadn't shown anyone, thoroughly told him off. 'You don't decide if something's not good enough, I tell you if something's not good enough,' he had said. So he looked over Peat's work and did just that. The novel draft got completely rewritten and, though I am cutting out some of the story, is now The Painted Man. 

I think he must have twigged why I asked, because he went on to give some writing advice; don't be put off by the rejected work that will never see the light of day. It is not wasted time, it is practice. The key to any craft is practise, practise, practise. It will be hard work, but by the time you do get published, you know it will be good quality because of the hard work that got you to that point.

Hearing advice like that from someone you respect and admire has a way of making it really sink in.

Peat signed books after that, making time to have a nice long chat with each person too. He is such a humble, down-to-earth guy, but 100% confident in his work. Someone asked him if he had any regrets about any of his work, and he said he wouldn't have let it go to print if he wasn't 100% sure about it. Quite right too. 

I took every single book by him that I own, and bless the man, he signed them all. What a lovely man. 

I have been so inspired by meeting such a great writer and a wonderful man, and have taken so much home with me (as well as all my signed books). This has been the boost I've needed.

So thank you, Peat, for an absolutely brilliant evening.

You can check out Peat's blog about the event over at his Peephole

Me in my 'jamas with all my signed books. This was a good night.

* All photos taken by my lovely husband Rob on his iPhone (except the one he's in, taken by Topher Knowles.)

Friday, 15 February 2013

Pushing Forward

My manuals, which thudded through the door...

Last time I spoke about reassessing my life; well the biggest outcome of that reassessing is that writing has been brought very much into the foreground again. There was a moment a few years back at which I declared to myself  that I was serious about writing; that it wasn't going to be 'just a hobby' as everyone had always told me it would. Well, I may be into the second wave now. 
Why should writing be a footnote to my life while I work a 'real job'? 

So I have been writing something every day, not just on my novel, but gathering ideas for short stories, composing letters to companies and that sort of thing as well. I have been making sure I have time for me every day, even if it is sat up in bed with my laptop. 

But, perhaps the biggest outcome of this reassessment is that I applied to a Chapterhouse course for Proofreading and Copy Editing. Some of you may have heard of them. The course came through my door with a thud and it's all very exciting. 

You see, I figure at the very least, I will come away from the course having learned how to refine and improve my own writing. But other than that, it's a starting point for applying for jobs in the publishing industry, which you can't just walk into. 

Does anyone have any experience of this course? If so, how have you found it? 

I'll let you know how I get on.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Sky Arts

I have discovered the Sky Arts channel. After hearing that I had failed my interview for a permanent contract with my company, where I've been for a year and a half now, Google and I sat down to reassess my life. This, of course, needs background telly. 
I flicked through the channels, hoping to find something other than endless repeats of Friends (though there is nothing wrong with endless repeats of Friends), and I noticed a program called 'Screenwriting Lecture Series'. I stuck it on.

It was really interesting and helpful - BAFTA and Sky Arts had got together to create a series of lectures by various screenwriters, sharing their experience and giving advice about screenwriting. The first was lead by William Nicholson (writer of Gladiator), and his words were very interesting and inspiring. 

He talked about the role and responsibility of the screenwriter, bursting the illusion that they 'just write dialogue'. He spoke about the importance of knowing characters well in order to really capture their emotions and let us in on his personal trick of always knowing the ending before he starts to write. He spoke very strongly and passionately about the discipline of writing, which I really needed to hear.

The series was actually first broadcast in August last year, but it looks like they are repeating it on Thursdays. I thought I would mention it, if anyone has access to Sky, and hasn't already seen it, it might be worth a look.