June 26, 2023
Writers are readers. I firmly believe it’s essential for people to read and read widely (I know, persistent prejudice of a former English teacher), because writers open the world and in places where most of us never choose or have to journey. Writers take us to real worlds, fantasy worlds, potential worlds. They immerse us in love, war, creation, despair, hope, joy, fear, abomination, spirituality, aspirations, grief, loss. They allow us to see life through many different eyes and from vastly different perspectives.
I was asked last week what I read, especially as I write in specific genres. It’s expected I read fantasy since I write fantasy, but I rarely do nowadays, and for two reasons. I don’t want to copy other fantasy writers, and I don’t want my stories to be influenced by what others are writing while I’m writing my stories. When I read fantasy it’s always between projects and never during.
My love for reading was fostered in three places. As a pre-schooler, my grandfather used to read newspaper articles to me. At home, my parents had a very tiny book collection that included Readers Digest condensed novels and I read these avidly. At school, there was the SRA Reading library and I devoured it, and the school library itself was a haven on wet days and days when relationships with other kids were not as joyous as I hoped. And I won books as school prizes, all of which I still have.
Without reading, I doubt I could write, not because of a lack of ideas, but because all those writers – thousands of them – taught me the art of writing and I am forever in their debt.
June 19, 2023
Okay, I rant, and this could go on for a very long time. The point is, while I might write fantasy novels, the characters and struggles within them are complex reflections of what we see and face every day – the rich doing whatever it takes to stay rich and get richer; the ambitious, greedy, selfish individuals who want to cross the gap between everyone else and the rich to be wealthy and powerful too; the ordinary folk whose only possible hopes of wealth and pleasure reside in alcohol, drugs and gambling, all managed by the rich to get hold of the ordinary folk’s money; the poor – refugees, unemployed, uneducated, disabled, abused – who everyone else ignores or avoids because there’s no ‘value’ in helping them not be poor. Yes, the plots follow specific individuals driven by their own motivations – power, revenge, rebellion, wealth, love etc – but the events play out against backgrounds that we all are familiar with if we choose to peer into them.
I have always been heavily influenced by thinkers and observers like Orwell, Shakespeare, Dickens, Bradbury, Dick (and many, many others), people who give powerful insights into the ‘wrongs’ and ‘facades’ of human society and behaviours, especially selfish greed and misguided individualism. At university, one of my studies was the universal struggle between egoism and altruism, the self and society, the role and rights of me in relation to all of you: the balance between selfish and service, or what do I get if I give? We live that conundrum perpetually. It permeates my writing and drives my characters. Maybe it’s my therapy to explore why humans persist in being greedy.
June 5, 2023
That moment when you think I have to write a blog – but I have nothing! Writing is like that, sometimes. You set up at the desk, you open the page, your hands rest above the keyboard, and…well, you stare, you ruminate, you type a handful of words and delete them. You stare. Coffee sounds good. Maybe water. Nah. Coffee. The cat needs to come in. Perhaps a few moments on the static bike, or some stretches. Hmmm. Perhaps. No. Stare at the screen. Ruminate again. The spectre rises. You’re not actually a writer. You’ve got nothing. Go away. I am a writer. I am. No, seriously, I am. Screen page shines white.
Writing is my passion. Ideas, opinions, beliefs, experiences expressed through language - through words and images - pervade and create my life. Writing is my voice, my soul, my self. My dream is one day writing will sustain my life...