How many other books have been written by this author? When does he usually find time to write them?
How many other books have you written? What are they?
I wrote a bunch of short stories initially to practice various writing skills, and many of them were really terrible. They were a great way to learn the basics and to try out different points of view and writing techniques in a safe sandbox environment. I wrote a few novellas and a rough version of Information Cloud in 2004. In 2005 I wrote a full length thriller novel called The Octopus Tree. I spent a lot of time on it, but I decided not to publish it in the end because I was not happy with the plot. I had it looked at by an editor and they said it had some good elements and promised better things to come, but the story in its current form did not really fit into any market. I could see that myself when I looked more closely at it. In the end, after a year and a half of long hard work, I had to agree with the editor that the end product was not half as useful as the journey to create it had been. The journey had taught me how to produce a book that was completely finished and not just 'almost done'. The journey had also taught me about how to create a full length novel and how to manage the multiple plot threads, weaving them together into a coherent whole. I had also learnt a great deal about writing realistic dialogue and creating complex realistic characters, and producing scenes with varying pace and style. I learned to write action sequences and also slower more intimate scenes. I learnt about cadence and how to make sentences and paragraphs flow well together.
By the time I had completed The Octopus Tree, I knew that although the book would never be released, I had not wasted a year, but actually learnt so much that the year could not have been better spent. In the years that followed, I continued learning about the craft, and I read more fiction and learned from websites and blogs about self-publishing possibilities, ebooks and a all the technical aspects of producing, converting and distributing ebooks. I also got married in India and learnt a lot about life in general.
When I came back to writing in 2010, I began a new science fiction novel. I spent six months fleshing out a story, and at the same time my mind kept springing back to how I could rewrite the rough Information Cloud novella into a full length novel. With the skills I had learnt in the intervening years I knew that I could come up with some exciting material.
In 2011, I shelved the other science fiction novel with the intention of returning to it later. I knew it was coming along nicely but I also knew that it would improve with age if I left for a year and came back to it with fresh eyes and new ideas. I finally returned my focus to Information Cloud and completely rewrote it. I went through around ten drafts before I reached the novel that is now available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords. While writing, I was constantly seeing things that could be improved, but I didn't want to sit on yet another story and risk never publishing it at all. I decided that the time had come and I should go ahead and offer my novel to real readers - people who owe me nothing and have never met me, and don't care about my feelings. Only then would I find out if what I had spent so long writing was genius or trash. Hopefully it is neither. I have had quite a bit of feedback from reviewers and the general public via Amazon UK and Amazon US as well as direct emails, and certainly the learning continues.
Readers are individuals and each one sees something different in the words that I can only see from my own perspective. The feedback I have had has been invaluable and has shown me areas that can be improved in my writing and also areas where I have succeeded. On the whole, the book has been well received.
For the last 8 months I have been learning from feedback and attempting to strengthen my weaknesses. I am working on the sequel to Information Cloud, with a new novel called Central Command. The sequel will be around twice the length of the original novel and will place the reader deeper into Cinnamon City, its surroundings and its people. The sequel should be released in the summer of 2013. After that, a third part is already taking shape.
Do you have a set time to write each day? Or do you wait to be inspired?
I try to write every evening if I can, or morning if I'm not at work. I never wait to be inspired. I would wait forever. For me, I find it best to start writing when fresh and do whatever I can in that session. If the session's writing turns out to be uninspired, I will come back and rewrite it in the next draft. I think waiting for anything is never the answer when writing. If a novel needs time to mature or if you need more time to think about it, then write something else in the meantime and come back to it when you are ready. Humans have short lives. Waiting isn't really an option.
If you find writing in general boring, try changing the time of day that you write. Try varying the length of time you write in a session and what you do in between. Maybe take a walk before writing to freshen up the mind. Make sure that your writing environment is away from other people, telephones, twitter accounts or other distractions. Make sure that only you and the story exist, then begin to write.
The interview continues in More Answers from Peter J. West