Today I’m pleased to be taking part in the blog tour for Comeback. My post is presented with thanks to Emma Welton of damppebbles Blog Tours for inviting me on the tour and Chris Limb for answering my questions!
Have you always wanted to write?
Yes I think so. It was always my favourite subject at school – going all the way back to primary school – even though I ended up being corralled into the sciences for some reason as I got older. Once free of formal education I continued writing fiction. It was the only thing I enjoyed more than reading. It’s analogous to how I felt about music – for years my favourite thing about music was going to a gig – until I realised that playing a gig was even better.
What were your previous jobs? Have they helped you with your writing process?
Most of my jobs were in admin of one kind or another until I moved into web and graphic design. I don’t think these particularly influenced or inspired the writing process, which has always gone on in parallel with them. If anything it has worked the other way around – I’ve been able to redeploy skills learned and developed while writing in other working environment. For instance I find writing documentation and instructions easier (and more enjoyable) than many people in the field do.
What was your inspiration for Comeback?
There were a couple of major inspirations. Firstly I attended a creative writing course at the University of Sussex in 2007 and during the first term we studied the Ancient Greek Myths and archetypes including their affect on fiction as a whole. Some of the exercises were to write modern stories based on these myths. I wrote one about Echo, (before she met Narcissus as I felt she was interesting enough in her own right) as well as one in which Zeus and Hera appearing on the Jeremy Kyle show. But it was the modern version of Orpheus in the Underworld that really caught my attention – protagonist Genie being a gender-swapped Orpheus – the musician that travels into the Underworld.
And that plugs nicely into the second inspirations, which is namely music and the music business. Have always had an obsessive interest in music, especially alternative, indie, punk, new wave, goth or whatever you would like to call it. The music business itself was a world with which I was quite familiar but which some people might find as absurd and exotic an arena as the Ancient Greek underworld itself! Combining these two was irresistible.
How do you construct your characters? Do they have traits of people you know?
I wouldn’t say that I actually constructed them. They seem to arise quite naturally as I write. My point of view characters such as Genie in Comeback and Wendi (who appears in Comeback and is the protagonist of Ghostdance, its sequel) are aspects of me as I only really have experience of what it’s like to be me! Genie is like my introverted, insecure side whereas Wendi is more who I’d like to be (even though she too has her own doubts and demons). Other characters just appear as they are needed and no doubt have some traits of my own as well as traits I’ve observed in other people. As in real life we never know really what’s going on in the head of other (non protagonist) people or what their agenda is although it can be interesting to telegraph this with their behaviour especially if the behaviour goes over the head of the PoV character so the reader is one step ahead and (hopefully) wishes they could warn the protagonist of the danger they’re in!
What does your writing process look like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Definitely a pantser when it comes to novels. Or “archaeologist” as I sometimes think of it because it feels as if I am uncovering the story as I go along but that it already existed in some form. In the terms of this metaphor plotter becomes “architect”.
That said, I do sometimes have a rough idea of the direction a novel is going when I start it, but don’t know what the precise ending or which path is going to lead me there. Also if I planned too much of the novel in advance I wouldn’t enjoy the process. The exciting thing about being an archaeologist is finding out what’s down there!
With Ghostdance I had even less of an idea where I was going; I simply started with a premise and a few mental images which ended up taking me on a fantastic journey.
Of course when it comes to short stories it’s a very different process. They often come into my head as a complete idea or at least as a fully formed ending – the “twist”.
How did you research Comeback? Did you enjoy it?
I didn’t do a huge amount but looked into some of the Greek myths and Dante’s Inferno for background colour and texture although I didn’t have to follow them exactly as it’s fantasy and the “real” Underworld in the universe of Comeback is it’s own thing of which the other tales are a reflection. Always good to check facts as well of course – we are living in a very fortunate time when we can look things up at the touch of a button. It’s always enjoyable in its own way.
Who are your favourite writers? Are you influenced by them?
There would so many going from right now back to childhood! But most recently I’ve enjoyed Elizabeth Bear, Laura Lam, Elizabeth May, Michael Marshall Smith, Jeff Noon, Becky Chambers, Claire North, William Gibson, Ben Aaronovitch, Lauren Beukes, Aliette de Bodard, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami, Justina Robson, M R Carey, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett… starting to travel further into the past now so had better stop there! And yes I think it’s unavoidable to be influenced by them. I’ve noticed that the more I’m reading the easier I find it to write. I have dry periods when I find it difficult to read which definitely affects my writing.
If you could invite three people, living or dead, to dinner, who would they be and why?
Not the kind of thing I’ve ever thought about. I suppose it would have to be dead people and why not historically important people to really challenge my social skills! Off the top of my head let’s say Albert Einstein, Ada Lovelace and Mary Shelley. Any further back and cultural and linguistic differences would make communication difficult. I realise that Lovelace and Shelley are from similar eras and backgrounds but as women who were both instrumental in forging things which are now big parts of my life (computers and science fiction) I can’t help but want to meet them.
Who would you least like to be stuck in a lift with and why?
Probably Donald Trump. Or Boris Johnson. You need to ask why? 😉 They’re charlatans masquerading as politicians, displaying the very worst qualities of which human beings are capable. Sometimes I wonder if people like that are even conscious at all, rather than just subconsciously going through the motions in control of a monstrous id.
Who would you like play the main character of Comeback in a film or TV series?
Probably the most difficult question of all as I’m not that up on current actors! Would have to be a tall woman able to play the age range – Genie goes from 19 in the earliest flashback to 27 in the present day of the novel. Any ideas? Obviously I am thinking UK English but these days I suppose as long as someone can do the right accent that doesn’t matter.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
Don’t tend to feel I have any spare time but I suppose my biggest leisure activity as already alluded to above is reading. I am going through a phase of reading prolifically at the moment. Watching TV probably comes next – mainly drama of one kind or another; I’m currently enjoying binge watching The Expanse. There are no “hobby” type activities; some people might consider writing or playing in bands to fall into that category but for me when I’m doing them I take them as seriously as anything else.
What is next for you?
Currently I am going to continue promoting Comeback and after that hopefully move on to getting Ghostdance published. I’ve already finished writing it and in fact am about a third of the way through writing the third book in the sequence. That’s about it. As I’m writing this I’ve nearly been stuck inside for a year as a result of the pandemic; right now the idea of being able to go somewhere else beyond walking distance of my flat seems faintly ridiculous!
NB these are probably going to be placeholder answers as the answer to any of these questions varies from day to day and from year to year. However if you asked me the question every day and then took an average answer then the probability is high that they would be those below.
Book? Spares by Michael Marshall Smith
Film? Blade Runner
Band / Singer? Lush / Toyah
TV show? Doctor Who
Place? New York or Berlin
Biscuit? Jaffa Cake. Yes, I know, but even so.
Comeback is available from Amazon.
You can follow the rest of the blog tour here: