Thursday 4 January 2018

Find me on Goodreads - and ask me a question

Like most authors, you can find me over at Goodreads. Click here to swing on over and find me. Also like most authors, I'm always happy to answer questions from those who follow my work. One of the nice things about Goodreads is that you can pitch questions to authors and see what they say - and here are the questions I've answered so far over there. Feel free to ask more - either in the comments below or over on the site. And hey, tell me about your work too if you're an author, would love to hear more. 

Leo McBride I love Heinlein too, without a doubt. It's funny, a couple of my stories have had Heinlein mentioned as an apparent influence so maybe he's in there in the back of my brain nudging away at how I write without me thinking about it. I think probably in terms of listing the influences, I came to reading Asimov and Clarke earlier - I was reading their work before I was a teenager, while I came to Heinlein a little later, more in my 20s. And I guess that early connection is what stuck with me. How there haven't been more movies based on Heinlein's work is beyond me, though! Fantastic writer.
Leo McBride A little from column A, a little from column B. I wouldn't say I rigidly plan the outline - but I do start with a solid idea of where I'm going to end up and some of the beats along the way. But then I start to write and see where I go with the wiggle room that I've got. That can bring some surprises along the way - in the short story The Last Sorceror, for example, one of the characters took certain actions that shocked me as I was writing them but completely fit her character. Had I planned that, I probably wouldn't have put that on paper, but her actions were a natural outgrowth of the situation in the process of writing. So, a structure, certainly, but with room to change things around on the fly.
Leo McBride Hmm, good question - I think I probably enjoy the writing process for short stories more, but prefer the full-length process (that I'm still working on!). The short form you can have fun with, dive into a story, create a world quickly and tell one story, one moment in time. The longer from requires, I find, more thought, more planning and connecting the dots to tell the larger story. Not sure how good I am at that yet, we'll see when the first novel is done!
Leo McBride Good question! I tend to find horror overlapping quite often - in Lazarus Soldiers, for example, I have cloned soldiers fighting against a surging mass of cloned flesh, while an in-progress story called Skitter has a sci-fi tale set in the sewers of New York. There are sci-fi greats throwing in horror elements too, of course, from HP Lovecraft to the first Alien movie, that haunted house in space where we first meet Ripley. I like the unknown, and that unknown can be in the far future or the here and now, but the unknown is reaching out into the dark, and never quite knowing what it is you will find there.
Leo McBride Theoretical physics - the possibilities that it offers for ways to understand our universe are simply breathtaking, and the storytelling options that go with them if I can only get my head around them!
Leo McBride Ooh, good question. Hm, oddly enough probably the old man in A Place To Rest from my collection Quartet. All he wants is to be left on his own while everyone around him is constantly badgering him, to the point where he runs away to find peace. I've had those days!
Leo McBride To be honest, the writers around me that I've connected with. It's really incredibly useful to have those outside eyes looking in on your work, and makes you more focused on the habits you might have in your writing to try to iron out. I've also really enjoyed writing for the Inklings Press anthologies, as they tend to force me to write outside my comfort zone rather than falling back on the same format.
Leo McBride Sometimes as a source of calm! But more I draw on the culture around me as a source of inspiration - the people and the myths of the landscapes I've lived in. But the beauty of the place sure helps to remind me to take the time to enjoy the world around me!
Leo McBride Without a doubt, Ray Bradbury is my favourite author, but I couldn't honestly say he's been a big influence - just because he is so, so good at what he does. With writing, it's sometimes like watching a magic trick, sometimes you can see how the trick works - but then along comes Bradbury and conjures a dinosaur out of thin air. So for me, I would say perhaps some of the closer influences might be people such as Stephen King and Robert Heinlein, where I've consciously sat down and tried to figure out parts of their work and how they go about it. And of course HG Wells, who is such an influence he becomes a character in The Secret War!
Leo McBride Time, to be honest. My regular job is a very busy one, with barely a spare moment. I'm a journalist and I can be working on up to 20 pages a night on a regular basis. That can discipline me to get on with things more easily when I have the opportunity, but it is a non-standard job, with unusual hours and little in the way of down time. So when I do get a little block of time to sit and write, it's a real treat!
Leo McBride I think probably not so much a comment as someone naming a pet after my character Percy because the character meant so much to them. That was very sweet indeed.
Leo McBride I'm working on the longer ones - a novel is in progress (more than one, really, but one in particular). Before that, getting short stories out in the wild seemed a good way of introducing people to my work, and to start learning about the publishing industry too. There's a lot to understand about marketing, the process of publishing a book, cover design, editing and so on - and I hope that I'll be better prepared when the novel is complete to give it a better chance of gaining the audience I think it deserves because of the short stories I've published. Apart from that, the short form is fun - it lets you dabble in lots of different worlds!
Leo McBride The gods of rum and whiskey! No, seriously, I tend to think about what kind of story I'm planning to write first - I think about the genre, and the kinds of story that can exist within that genre, and what I want to tell. For example, for the story In The Stars, We Learned To Soar, I wanted to explore how a Romany community would interact in a spaceborne environment. I try to think about elements I've perhaps not seen explored, or to put a twist on familiar concepts. How successful I am? Goodness knows!
Leo McBride Accept you're not perfect at the start, and understand that criticism can make you better. Listen to that as advice, not as something personal, and work out what you can take from it to let your writing grow.
Leo McBride As the great philosopher Frederick Mercury once opined... "Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?"

I must admit, I'm not convinced by the multiple realities theories, the multiverses with a split with every decision. If so, I'm creating universes just by every word I choose to type here.
Leo McBride I couldn't say, I've never eaten a whole one!
Leo McBride I'm not a big reader of romance, so let me give an answer that would be absolutely the wrong answer on dating sites and such. No happy ever after here, but the sheer agony of the tormented relationship between Heathcliff and Cathy in Wuthering Heights makes for great reading. The tension and pain at the heart of that relationship is so intense, so passionate, and yet at the same time so disfunctional. So yes, not the sweet fairytale couple by any means, but one of the great stories of English literature as a result.
Leo McBride Hi Rosemary - I don't know if your book launch is in the real world or on Facebook, but I would suggest including a bit of an author Q&A. Recruit a friend to pose some questions and moderate questions from the audience, be it in the room or online, and give a shout out to fellow authors who might be dropping in. I've only done launches online before, but it certainly helps pass the time as you see how the launch is going, and is great to be able to thank people who have shown up to support. Giveaways of copies might be a thing to include too, to reward visitors. Hope that helps, but nudge me by all means if I can help more!
Leo McBride Well, unfair criticism is easy to shrug off, because it's unfair! That kind of thing tells you more about the critic than the author. Bad reviews? Listen to them, I say, take on board what they are saying. Some of the criticism may be valid, some may not, but what better way to learn your craft than to listen to those who point out things you do that may not work? Regardless, people who have taken the time to read your work and comment on it deserve your respect, whether they have liked it or not.
Leo McBride Rum, angst and growling at the empty screen until words form of their own volition.
Leo McBride Definitely when someone likes what you've written and lets you know - it's a little bit brilliant!
Leo McBride I count myself as an aspiring writer still so I'm still looking for lots of advice myself - I think I would say that listening is important, but also understanding that while all criticism is valid on the part of the person giving it, not all of it needs to be embraced as a writer. Choose the good advice from the bad, but listen to it all to discern what helps your work and what does not.
Leo McBride I'm currently working on two novels - a long-simmering supernatural thriller about a police officer troubled with visions of the murders he's investigating and slowly uncovering the eerie reasons why; and Hocus Potus: a spooky comedy about a witch who becomes President of the United States.
Leo McBride I've always written, in one form or another, ever since I was a kid. Sometimes that energy went into roleplaying games, sometimes it went into writing fiction. Inspiration doesn't always come easy, sometimes I sit there with a blank piece of paper having no clue what to write. Sometimes I find myself setting a challenge of writing in a particular genre, or a particular theme to get myself going. I have a ton of ideas simmering away - just needing time to sit down and write them all!
Leo McBride Hi there,

So far, my published books have been short story collections - and the ideas for those come from far and wide! The novel I'm working on though, which sprang out of putting something together for National Novel Writing Month, was challenging myself to write something different, something with a bit of comedy. Add a dash of magic, and the swirl of election season going on and lo and behold, a story comes together of the President of the United States being a witch who got into power using magic... intending to do good, only to come up against the warlocks of the Senate.

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