Mark Lingane from mark-mywords.co, an old friend from Kazakhstan and author of several books including The Tesla series, Beyond Belief, Chasing Heart and Desert Heart invited me to be a part of a Writing Process Blog Tour, and I am excited to take part in this – my first blog tour. As a part of this experience, I was asked to answer four questions that might help bring insight to my writing process. So, hold on tight! Here we go:
1. What am I working on?
I’ve got two books in the works right now. The first book is the second book in my Thimblerig series, which tells of the further adventures of Thimblerig the groundhog and his friends. I can’t really say much more about that, because I don’t want to spoil the end of Thimblerig’s Ark. I’m also just in the planning stages of a family adventure novel that follows an expatriate family in the Southeast Asia as they stumble on a trail of clues that may lead to fabulous treasure, but could also lead to certain doom. This is a book that I also plan to turn into a series.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I am a writer from a Christian background who loves writing for kids and who is trying to avoid writing so-called “Christian” books. While writing Thimblerig’s Ark, I had a little set of rules that I kept on a post-it note in front of me all the time to help keep me from falling into the “Christian writing” trap.
So, if my genre is kid-oriented and remotely “faith-based”, then I hope that I bust that genre wide open by being a good storyteller who happens to prioritize faith in my life, rather than a person trying to use writing as a way of proselytizing. Hey! Proselytizing! That could have been my fifth P!
3. Why do I write what I do?
It might be because I have three kids of my own, or it might be because my day job is teaching upper elementary in an international school, or it could be because I’m a ten year old boy trapped in a mid-40’s body. Whichever one (or all) of those which might be true, the books on my list of favorites are almost all books written for the 10 to 14 year old crowd. Therefore, I write what I love.
And my ambition for what I write is not small, because I want to write the books that adults will look back on in twenty years as being Important Books For Their Childhood. By this I mean that I want people to remember my books the way I remember Narnia, or Edgar Rice Burroughs, or Lloyd Alexander.
Why bother dreaming if you aren’t going to dream big?
4. How does my writing process work?
Ha! Considering that I am a father of three, a husband of one, a full-time teacher living in China, a drama/theater director, and I need to eat and sleep – writing comes when it comes, and how it comes. I always carry around a little notebook, so that when inspiration hits, I can drop everything and scribble it down. Hopefully it doesn’t happen while I’m holding the baby, but inspiration could hit while I’m riding on the bus, during my lunch break at school, even during church. Actually, some of my best ideas have come during church.
Writing typically happens at ten minute increments – when I have the time – or like right now – late at night when everyone has gone to bed and the house is quiet. It might be that my wife generously gives me permission to take Saturday morning and go sit in a coffee shop by myself, or I could find myself sitting in my classroom after school pounding away. It rarely happens at home, as I have a very difficult time writing at home. This is probably because I don’t have a dedicated writing spot at home away from the hustle and bustle of the family. My dream home includes a wood-paneled room, lined with bookshelves filled with books, and with a view of the sea, where I can close myself off from the rest of the world to sit and write.
And I write to music. This is a non-negotiable aspect to my process. Specifically, I write to movie soundtracks. When I was working on Thimblerig’s Ark, I had a Spotify playlist that included Hans Zimmer and Thomas Newman, with Man of Steel, Inception, and Cinderella Man being favorites on my rotation. I’ve been told the book has a real cinematic feel to it, and if that is true then I’m certain that the mood produced by the music on that soundtrack playlist helped me to produce something that turned out to be filmic.
So, that’s me. Next up, I’ve tagged China-based South African fantasy writer Jaco van Wyk to share his process – that will be up on May 12. I will put up a bit more about Jaco in the days to come, including the link to his blog.