Writing Process

NK Chats To… Murray Bailey

Hello Murray, thank you so much for joining me today. What was the inspiration for Singapore Killer?

The whole series was inspired by my father who was a military policeman in Singapore during the 1950s.

 

What prompted you to start writing the Singapore Series?

I read a Lee Child novel and thought: I can do that. I have a character and an exotic setting – plus the seeds for a plot. However I subsequently found it harder than I expected.

 

How much research did you do before starting?

I took my dad to Singapore for his 75th birthday. He thought it was a holiday but I never stopped asking questions. I’ve been again since. I’ve and also been to Kuala Lumpur and Penang, both of which feature in the series.

 

So no further research as you work?

Lots of research! I have a number of good reference books for the period including a fabulous one full of photographs. Of course I use the internet, but I also have a few readers who can also be called upon to help.

 

Singapore Killer is book 5. Can it be read as a stand-alone?

I hope so. It’ll help to read them in order, but it really shouldn’t matter.

 

Will there be a sixth book?

Yes, it’s called Singapore Fire, and it will be the last of the series. However Ash Carter may well appear in Hong Kong if he does resurface.

 

Map of the Dead which had flashbacks to ancient Egypt, was an Amazon best seller. Your dad didn’t inspire that one?

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NK Chats To… Derwin Hope

Thank you so much for joining me today, Derwin. Can you tell me a little about your book, Charles Dickens: My Life?

It is the life story of Charles Dickens using his own words to tell his story. On a number of occasions Dickens expressed the wish to write his own life story, but he died prematurely in 1870 at the age of 58 without doing it.

Now 150 years later and for the first time I have collected up all the various pieces of that jigsaw of things that he said about his life and put them into the narrative. It produces the nearest thing to an autobiography that is now possible.

Details of me, what I have done, and the written comments of people who have read my proofs can be seen on my official website at www.dickensmylife.com.

 

What challenges did you face when writing this novel?

The overwhelming challenge of hunting out things he actually said and did, as distinct from what other people have said about him in the last 150 years.

 

How did you approach the writing process for this novel?

I began my research about 25 years ago, became more focussed about collecting up the relevant pieces after I became a Judge in Portsmouth (his birthplace) in 2004 and visited the bedroom of his birth, and once I had retired in 2014 spent nearly 4 years putting all the pieces I had found together into a continuous narrative.

 

What do you think Charles Dickens would feel about the current state of the world?

I suspect he would be highly critical about it, as he was in his own day. He never trusted most politicians, having seen them at work in Parliament in his early career as a Parliamentary reporter. He later referred to Parliament as “The Dustheap of Westminster”. He was equally damming on the politicians he saw in America, as well as the way the press reported things over there.

He said many of the newspapers were only fit to be used as a water closet doormat. He was a Radical by nature and had a huge social conscience and whenever he saw anything that he felt was socially wrong he spoke out strongly against it. He became the people’s champion and that is why he was so loved in his time, apart from the brilliant fictional novels he also wrote. I think he would have taken the same approach to the social issues of today if he was alive now.

 

Which Charles Dickens character would you like to meet and why?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Stranded

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

Today’s prompt: Stranded.

You wake up to find that you’re on a deserted Island. You don’t remember how you got there. The last you remember, you were at home.

There doesn’t seem to be anyone around until you are approached by an animal. Yes, this animal seems to be able to walk like a human can.

What shocks you even more is when this animal smiles at you, welcomes you to the island and hands you a tent.

Continue the story…

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Planning Short Stories

Today, I want to go back to the beginning and look at planning. 

I am quickly becoming aware that I am not a writer who can just sit down and write. I need to know where I want my story to go or I end up with a lot of similar scenes as my story goes around in circles as I have no idea how to move it forward.

So, today’s exercise is the following…

Make a plan for a story, in note form that’s related to one of the following topics..

Inheriting an old house.

A blind date

Broken down car in a deserted area

A holiday that goes wrong

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My Writing Ramblings: Finding my Motivation

May is finally on the horizon.

April has seemed such a long month.

There is certainly a strange atmosphere right now as we all try and navigate our way through this situation. To me, it feels like that week between Christmas and New Year where you’re waiting for something to happen but not quite sure what to do with yourself.

I am naturally the type of person who likes being at home, preferably with warm pyjamas, a duvet, a cup of tea, a snoozing cat and a book although I am slightly obsessed with Animal Crossing right now. Despite being this type of person, even I am beginning to struggle with the lockdown. It’s necessary to stay at home but we’re only human. It’s natural to find it hard, even when you know it’s the right thing to do.

At the beginning of April, I was struggling with motivation to do anything (my enthusiasm to do housework is never there.)

It’s amazing how tiring doing nothing makes you, right?

I have been reading a lot which I love. I am also finally writing and I am so proud of this fact.

If you’re struggling to be motivated, I wanted to share something that has really helped me in the last few weeks.

Since discovering a website called Unchained Writer, I have managed to write every day since 9th April. My aim is 1,000 words each day and for the most part, I have managed this with a couple of exceptions. Regardless, it all helps to get me closer to writing and finishing a novel I have been trying to find the confidence to write for years.

Unchained Writer has been a real game changer for me. It’s made such a difference.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Childhood Differences

Today, I want to again focus on how the same scene can be seen differently by two people despite being in the same room, witnessing the same thing. 

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. When writing from the point of view of my main character, I also wonder what the other people in the particular scene are thinking.

In my own childhood, if asked, I would probably remember an event differently than my siblings would. I used to dance and enter competitions. How was it for my brother who was dragged along?

Think of an incident from your childhood where you were the centre of attention. How did you feel? What happened? Write for ten minutes, basing your story about this incident.

Now, write for another ten minutes but this time, write from the point of view of a sibling, cousin or friend who was also there. What differences are there in the thoughts, feelings and view of events?

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A Moment With… Nia Rose and Octavia J. Riley

Octavia J. Riley

Nia Rose and Octavia J. Riley are co-authors of Spellbound and Hellhounds and Secrets of the Sanctuary, the first two novels in the Coven Chronicles. 

 

About Spellbound and Hellhounds, book one in the Coven Chronicles. 

Enter the world of Raen, turn left at the land of dragons, and you’ll find yourself in the country of Aeristria. A place overflowing with magic and creatures that were once only heard of in fairy-tales. In the heart of Aeristria is the capital city, Tolvade. Here you will find shops and taverns, laughter and fun, runesmiths looking for their next job and sneaky pickpocketing imps. Steer clear of the galloping gang of centaurs and you will see the headquarters of the prestigious Coven.

Within the Coven’s lower ranks, you’ll find Vanessa, a third-year Hunter itching to become a Spellweaver. Her and her trusted demon partner, Botobolbilian, must investigate an explosion at the academy and bring the culprit responsible in. Easy job, right?

Wrong.

Nia Rose

Vanessa and her partner find that this investigation runs deep in black magic and sprinkled with feral demon summonings. With countless lives on the line, Vanessa struggles with self-doubt and following her heart (and laws) as she tries to right the wrongs of these heinous criminals and bring them to justice before they do any more harm.

But, with an oncoming yearly blizzard just days away, is it too late? Even with all the magic, spells, and power on Raen, this job might be the last that this duo ever faces…

 

About Secrets of the Sanctuary, book two in the Coven Chronicles.

Thea Bauer has earned her way to being a highly skilled member of the Coven. Ranked as a Spellweaver, she’s assigned the more dangerous missions. Corralling a herd of wild unicorns? No problem. Taking down a witch riding the high of black magic? Piece of cake. Finding out why magic-based creatures are suddenly flooding the local sanctuary, protected by a powerful sorceress with a hatred for the Coven? Thea might need more than her tethered demonic partner to see this mission through.

She calls upon Summoner Rafe MacBain, a trusted colleague she’s known for years whose dreamy eyes might keep her up at night—but she’s not admitting that to anyone. He’s got his own demonic companion, and altogether they’re a force to be reckoned with. But, even with their combined strength, it might not be enough against feral demons escaping some of the farthest reaches of Hell.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Thea must conquer her own demons residing within herself that conjure up a painful past. Will she be able to overcome herself, or will the memories she’s tried to stray from keep her from fighting enemies in the physical realm? Thea is starting to wonder if the sorceress may be one of those enemies too. What secret is she hiding at the bottom of the sanctuary, and how will it affect everything Thea has come to know?

 

Octavia has joined me today to talk about duel writing and the challenges both she and Nia face. Thank you for joining me. Over to you.

 

Nia and I get asked quite frequently how we go about writing a dual-trilogy of the same world in the same timeline. We always look at each other and agree: challenging. Not in the “Oh, this is so hard“ or “You can’t do that, it doesn’t work with MY story” sort of way (not to say we haven’t said that once or twice…). It’s challenging in a way that forces us to think, adapt, grow, and roll with what we’re given. It challenges us as authors and puts our imaginations to the test, which is invaluable when delving into fantasy.

 

There’s definitely flaws and loopholes when writing  in a world shared by another author, but the beauty of that is that there’s two set of eyes to catch these loopholes. I remember we were so engrossed in our stories that we kind of got carried away, and Nia came up to me and was like, “Uh…hold on, was I at the Grim Bean the same time you were talking to the imp?” We realized that our characters did, in deed, come into close contact with each other, and this gave birth to our first cameo appearance in Spellbound & Hellhounds. We were able to sneak one more cameo appearance in when both of our characters were in Tasgall’s at the same time (something that we both realized later when we read over the story, because we clearly didn’t learn about paying attention to the timeline the first time). We’re those authors who don’t know exactly where the story’s going when we write it. We just write it however it comes to us. Neil Gaiman once said “Write down everything that happens in the story, and then in your second draft make it look like you knew what you were doing all along.”

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Once Upon a Time in a Fictional World

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

 

Today’s prompt: Once Upon A Time in a Fictional World…

You’ve fallen asleep. When you wake up, you find yourself in a fictional world. This world is from whatever novel you’re currently reading.

Without directly referencing the novel, place yourself in one scene and rewrite it to include you as a character. How would you react to find yourself in a fictional world?

Are you reading a romance and have woken up to find that the main character doesn’t like you? If you’re rediscovering Harry Potter? How about waking up in the great hall at Hogwarts?

Have fun.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Different Voices

Today, I thought we could look at distinguishing one character from another. 

Making my characters sound different to one another is one of the things I am finding the hardest to do as a first time writer.

I came across this exercise via The Writers Digest and thought that it sounded quite interesting. (Visit their website if you’d like to explore more of their prompts and writing exercises.)

Write a couple of pages of conversation where one character talks in say, four word sentences and the other in ten word sentences.

For example, ‘I can’t do this.’

‘Yes, you can. You are being ridiculous. Just be brave.’

‘It’s just too hard.’

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Following the Leader

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

 

Today’s prompt: Following the Leader. 

Your character wakes up and finds themselves in a strange village.

There are four other people with them and no one seems to have met one another before.

Someone appoints themselves the leader of the group whilst you all try to find a way out of this village.

On first inspection though, there doesn’t seem to be a way out.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: Word Association

Happy Wednesday all. For today’s writing group, I thought we’d work from a prompt using word association.

This is one of my favourites as you can never tell what it will inspire.

Pick up the book that’s closest to hand. Go to page one hundred.

Make a note of the first and last words on the page.

Now, on a sheet of paper, put each word at the top and divide the page into two columns.

Use the timer for five minutes each side and using each word as a beginning, write down as many words as you can think of.

Once you’ve done that, write a story by using the first two words you took from the book to start with and then incorporating all the other words as you go.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room – Dear Me

I often wonder what my future and past self would tell me if I were to receive a letter from them.

What advice would I give myself? What would my ten-year old self talk about that is different to my older self?

I find this thought fascinating.

That is why I have chosen this exercise today. Write a letter to you, from yourself ten years in the future. Also write a letter from the point of view of your ten-year old self.

Obviously the advice and content would be slightly different but are there recurring themes?

Set the timer for about ten minutes for each one. Try not to edit, just write.

Now repeat the exercise but for one of your characters.

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: Talk to Animals?

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

 

Today’s prompt: What if I could talk to the animals? 

You have been stuck inside for a few days now. You are on your own with only your pet for company.

One morning, a voice you don’t recognise brings you out of sleep.

Your pet is on the bed with you but there is no one else there.

That is until you hear the voice again.

You turn toward your pet…

Continue the story.

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Novel Kicks Writing Room: The Same But Different

Today, I thought we could look at different points of view. 

You have three characters standing together in the same spot.

They are all looking at the same thing. It could be the sky, a building, a pier, another group of people. The situation and gender of your characters are up to you.

Set the timer for ten minutes each character.

Write three different pieces of prose, describing what they are looking at but from each person’s point of view, voice and opinions.

How do they differ?

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Novel Kicks Fiction Friday: What Curfew?

It’s Friday which means it’s time to start writing some fiction.

Fiction Friday is our weekly writing prompt.

The aim is to write for a minimum of five minutes and then keep going for as long as you can.

Once you’ve finished, don’t edit, just post in the comments box below.

 

Today’s prompt: What curfew? 

A curfew has been put in place all over the city where you live. There are patrols everywhere. There’s not a lot that will get by them.

You find yourself defying the curfew to deliver a message on the other side of the city. You must do this by morning.

Write about the journey. Do you and your message make its destination in time and in one piece?

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Novel Kicks is a blog for story tellers and book lovers.

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