Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Author of the week Stephen Ormsby

Our featured Author this week is Stephen Ormsby. Author of Long Lost Song

On twitter: @IdeasCaptured

At the end of the interview, you will find our giveaway. One lucky Fan will win a copy of Long Lost Song!

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I don’t think I ever decided to be a writer.  It has always been with me, even from an early age I was the script writer for claymation projects at school.  From then on, I have always had people running around my head.  It’s either write or do something bad and blame the people inside there.  Writing is a way to express, well it’s not even that.  Writing is a form of dreaming with my eyes open - a sort of daydreaming where I let my fingers deal with my subconscious.  In those cases, I’m just a physical middle man.

How long did it take you to write your book?

Long Lost Song took me two years to write but we were also running our shop at the same time.  The next couple of books were a lot quicker.  One I just finished in first draft took 22 days and the other is 90k in 28 days.

What genre is your book? What made you choose to write in that category?

Long Lost Song is urban fantasy, but mixed with horror and apocalyptic themes as well. After finishing that, I wanted to learn to write in a couple of genres specifically.  So I chose horror and fantasy.  I must say that I feel as though they worked very well.  In fact, when I mention the horror novel my wife makes this ugly face as she has read pieces of it and finds it quite horrific - not story not the writing!

What was your work schedule like when you were writing?

I’m lucky enough to be writing full time now, so my day starts when I get up with a bit of social media and helping get the kids off to school.  Coffee with my beautiful muse, then I start writing at about 10am.  I set myself a relatively easy goal of 1,000 words a day, which can take as little as an hour or four, depending on where the story is up to and what draft it is in.  Usually for first drafts, I can write about 3,000 words a day quite easily.

I find I need to write that fast, as I have ideas coming to me all the time.  If I do not write like that, then I will drown in ideas.  I’m already drowning in them, as they come to me almost as easily as words now.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

A quote directly from my wife on this one:  “You don’t pay attention to anyone around you.”  When I am absorbed into a story, I lose track of everything, and I do mean everything.  I barely respond to people talking to me, I barely hear music and people.  I barely remember to do the usual tasks in a day - until my day is done.

And still I can be lost in the book for some time after it.  It can take me hours to come back to the real world.

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I do a lot of research for my books.  I need to know the ins and outs of all that I use for a book.  In fact, for the fantasy novel I had to know how a centaur would work, so Marieke and I arranged a skeletal and digestive system for such a beast.  It must have taken us three hours of discussing, arranging, rediscussing before we, as a team, were happy with our design.

So Marieke does a lot of my research as well.  I like the idea of two people looking at similar information, as they each find different things out of it.  Specific pieces out of Long Lost Song would not be the same if it had not been for Marieke.

So, back to the question.  Where?  The web basically, but from a number of different sites to cross-validate the information we gather.  I’m not one to take the first piece of information as gospel.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

I have written quite a few actually, but Long Lost Song was my first.  Again, Marieke is integral in this happening.  She read large tracts of it as it was being written and would say that this needs to be published.  Her logic was that if I did not publish it, then it would really happen.

It was more of the possibility of a song infecting a person that scared me about it.  Computer viruses are common now, but we both saw the possibility of a computer virus infecting a person was not far away.

I have just finished another - a horror novel and should finish my fantasy novel in early January.  I think that will take the count up to 8, with potentially three of them being published next year alone.  That’s without mentioning the interest for publishers (and I do mean multiple publishers) wanting to be a reprint of Long Lost Song.

Are you currently working on another book? If so, is it part of a series or something different?

I am always working on something.  I’m finding that I do not relax well, and if I do not write, I get cranky.  This builds up until I am awful to live with.  So, the horror novel was part of a series that will span eight (yes, 8) books, whilst the fantasy novel is part of a series which will be between 3 - 5 books.

Then there is the sequel to Long Lost Song forming in the back of my mind.  I could check my scribble book to see what else is there but then I may scare myself.  Suffice to say, there’s always something going on in the grey matter.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?

When I’m not writing?  What ever could you mean?  Ask Marieke.  I never stop.  I can’t stop.  I feel as though I wasted too much of my life having a big person career instead of doing what I wanted to do, but then I had not really lived, so I don’t know if they would have been good anyway.

Okay, I read a lot as I review as well.  But reviewing as much as I do I am finding that even reading is losing its lustre.  I need to sit down and read books that I want to read.  Even reading has turned into a job lately.
I suppose if I was to choose one thing, it would be cooking.  I love to invent.  My cooking reflects that.  I haven’t poisoned the family yet, so I see that as an encouraging sign!

What does your family think of your writing?

It is due to my second wife Marieke that I am published, so she is incredibly supportive of what I do.  So much so that she designs my covers for me.  I mean have you seen the cover of Long Lost Song - it is a real masterpiece.  She was the only one that understood what I wanted for the cover, and then used her own photographs to make it.

So, if you need a cover designer, find Marieke.  She does a superb job.  When we decided to self-publish, we were conscious of the fact that we needed a great cover and I believe I have one.  I believe it’s probably one of the best indie covers I’ve seen.  We made sure it was that good.

My family, from my parents to Marieke’s parents to our children, love the fact that I write.  Both our children now write and they are only 9 and 7.  Summer was shortlisted in her school for her first effort so we are very proud of them as well.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned about yourself in creating your books?

That I can write gory stuff as easily as anything else.  That I can write so much every day.  That I am being read and enjoyed by people all around the world.  That in itself is an amazing reward.

Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Find your own particular method for getting the job done - and stick to it.  I like routine, which means I like writing for 10am to about 3pm.  School hours is my best time to write now due to making it routine.

Other things I do is that I write an outline as not much more than an idea.  This gives characters room to move and upset the balance that has settled in my head.  Write the first draft from start to finish.  Do not go back and edit.  Let the characters dictate as much as they like.

I’ve had characters put themselves in holes that I did not know the answer to - until something else happened.  I feel that if I don’t know what’s going to happen, then it will keep the reader guessing as well.  It makes the writing of the novel exciting, which I hope transfers to the reading of it.

Take each comment from your beta readers seriously.  Listen to what they have to say.  There will be many out there who will think the same thing if you do make a necessary change.

Most importantly, grow a thick skin.  There will be people out there that will not like your words.  You WILL get that one star review sooner or later.  It is the way of the world.  When I got my one star review, I laughed.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say

I love hearing from my readers, being that I am still a relatively new author.  I am on Facebook, Twitter and run a blog, just so people can find me.  The response I have been getting has been amazing.  It’s invigorates my soul when I hear people talking about my book.

It makes me what to write more, as I feel as though people want to read them.  Is there a better driver in the world than that?

What do you think makes a good story?

Excitement, tension, the element of surprise.  If, as the writer, I am surprised by what is happening, then I believe that the reader has no choice but to be surprised as well.  If I don’t know what going to happen, then I hope the reader is thrown through loops when they find out.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

There has always been an element in me that has written creatively.Even as an Information Technology professional, I wrote very good creative code.  Code so creative that only I would interpret later on - nested loops within nested loops.  Pages of code into a dozen lines.  I did not do it to confuse everybody else.  There was just a structure to it that I saw.  Structure was something that everybody else seemed to miss.

That same structure carries through to writing novels I believe.  Novel writing is a strange cross-over between strict structure and creative looseness.  It’s a matter of being able to blend the two together into an interesting fashion.

Are you self published or do you have a publisher? If self published, what made you decide to go that route?

I self-published Long Lost Song as Marieke I felt it was time-sensitive.  By that, we felt that a key element of the novel may happen any day, and we did not want to lose our opportunity to give the world our viewpoint.

Also, Matthew Reilly showed the world that you can self-publish and still get a big name publisher later on.  I wanted to show that I thought my words were good enough to be out there and maybe later on a publisher would agree with me.

The logic seems to be working as I have about 5 publishers interested in either reprinting Long Lost Song or trying to get my new stuff.

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1 comment:

  1. Excellent interview! I especially agree about novel writing being "a strange cross-over between strict structure and creative looseness". :-)