Dave (see the previous post) just reminded me about the Online Writing Workshop. If you’re a writer looking for a place to sharpen your skills and get some great feedback you should check it out. I recently did an interview with them that is now online. It gives a few more of my thoughts on writing and publishing. Each month there’s a different writer or publishing professional interviewed so you’ll probably learn something new that will help you along if you’re pursuing a writing career.
You can find it here: http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/
Just click on the newsletter/e-groups tab at the top, then click current newsletter (a few lines down from the top,) then scroll about 2/3s down. I’ve pasted a portion of the Q&A below so you can see some of what we talked about.
Tell us a little about your most recent book, The Light Of Burning Shadows.
It continues the story from A Darkness Forged in Fire in a world where magic and muskets coexist, so a time period roughly similar to the late 1700s/early 1800s. It’s certainly in the vein of traditional fantasy — something I’m not the least bit ashamed to say — but there are a few twists. Much of my inspiration is derived from areas that aren’t mined all that often in fantasy, coming from the works of authors and historians like Rudyard Kipling, Bernard Cornwell, Richard Holmes, Michael Shaara, George MacDonald Fraser, Terry Copp, Barbara Tuchman, and T.E. Lawrence, among others. (see interview for more)
You are an historian as well as an editor of history books. What makes history come alive for you?
Inspired research, attention to details, and narrative flair. History is, or should be, about telling a story. That might sound obvious, but too often you see history presented as a dry dissertation of facts. That’s not wrong, but it’s hardly inviting. Worse though, is that if a writer can’t make history interesting then it prompts the question why write it in the first place? Writing is all about communicating. And at the risk of offending my former colleagues in academia, it’s about entertaining, too. (see interview for more)
What advice would you like to give the aspiring author?
The harder you work the luckier you get. I joined OWW and went to Clarion because I wanted to be a writer, but when Del Rey offered me a job I jumped at the opportunity to become an editor and learn the business from the inside. Basically, I spent a seven-year apprenticeship as an editor while using my free time — when I could make some — to improve my skills as a writer. So keep an open mind and plan for the long term. (see interview for more)