The Confessions of a Writer

Been tagged to do this by Niina at Northern Chapters so I figured I would give it a go.

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Rules of the tag:

  • Please link back to A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly’s post, so that the original rules are always accessible to anyone who is curious and wants to participate!
  • Acknowledge the person who tagged you in your post.
  • Tag your friends and fellow writers – it’s up to you how many!

The Confessions of a Writer Tag was created by Nicolette at A Little Bookish, A Little Writerly. It is a ‘get-to-know’ the writer interview tag, dedicated to spotlighting the creative process, works in progress, and connecting to other writers.


 

When did you first start writing? Was being a writer something you always aspired to be?

I aspired to be many things as a kid from a vet to a nurse to a pop star, all the usual little girl ambitions. I wasn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the pack at the time and had no interest in anything remotely academic. It took a teacher pointing out I was good at writing that something seemed to start to click in my mind. I did start writing but the switch wasn’t fully turned on though until I discovered the Harry Potter series by JK Rowling. After that, everything clicked into place.

What genre do you write?

I gravitate mostly to fantasy and crime with romance sub plots in most of my stories. Family drama, social commentary and thriller also make appearances in a few of my stories, something that didn’t hit me until a tutor pointed it out. I have attempted forays into the science fiction genre but they rarely work out well to be honest.

Can you tell us a little about your current work in progress? When did you start working on this project?

I’m working on my magic school story from July Camp NaNoWriMo. Anyone who follows my blog will know it started just from an idea after a failed sci-fi story and has continued since then. The story revolves around a teen girl, coming from a dark magic family involved in criminality, trying to escape and be different. Not sure what I will do with the story later. We’ll see.

What was your first piece that you can remember writing? What was it about?

The first story I chose to write was a fan fiction based on Flint The Time Detective, about one of the detectives called Merlock Holmes and his daughter. It never was finished and is absolutely awful, with stuff borrowed from the Cardcaptors/Card Captor Sakura, Lord of the Rings and the Malory Towers series to name but a few. It did have the first version of the school my FMC from the above answer attends so it was not all bad really.

What’s the best part about writing?

Creating new things and exploring the world through the written word. One day, I want to explore the world myself, not just through stories.

What’s the worst part about writing?

Hitting a wall in the creation of the first draft then editing and rewriting. Ugh! Necessary but still hate it.

What’s the name of your favourite character and why? (This can be from a book by another author or from your own work. Book crushes are perfectly acceptable here as well).

Oh! I have no idea! I love characters like Hiccup Horrendous Haddock the Third from the How To Train Your Dragon books by Cressida Cowell because he’s not your typical hero, and Hermione Granger, because she was smart and her description is very similar to how I was as a kid. Those sorts of characters appeal to me.

How much time a day/week do you get to write? When is the best time for you to write (morning or night)?

I tend to write in the evening most days because it is the only free time I have available to me in a typical day but I do prefer to write and work on an afternoon. I’ve run my errands, had something to eat and drink, checked the news and e-mail, etc. I can just sit and write (and watch some YouTube and television). It’s a routine that was developed at university and has proven the most productive.

Did you go to college for writing? Or if you haven’t been to college yet, do you plan to?

I did Professional Writing at university (or college as it is in the USA), with the idea that it would set me up not just for writing in general, but was applicable to other jobs too. I’m not working as a writer in any capacity at the moment sadly but I do have ideas and career plans that relate to writing, even just part-time.

What bothers you more: spelling errors, punctuation errors, or grammar errors?

Has to be grammar mainly but the others drive me up the wall too, especially if it is in a document or something that you would expect to be correctly spelt, punctuated, grammar checked and formatted correctly.

What is the best writing advice that anyone has given you?

It’s actually a philosophy quote by Confucius that applies to every part of life: “It does not matter how slowly you go, so long as you do not stop.” In other words, keep writing!

What advice would you give to another writer?

I hate the advice write what you know. You could write about everything you know very easily and quickly and end up stuck. I prefer the advice write not what you know, but what you would like to find out about. Write about the things that you want to find out about. The world is a big place so explore it!

What are your favourite writing sites or blogs that you turn to for help, tips or encouragement?

My friends are usually my first port of call for help but I also follow a lot of Tumblr prompt and advice blogs, such as Write World and Writing Cafe, as well as seasonal picture blogs that have some stunning picture ripe for prompts, Rayne Hall’s Twitter (her books are brilliant too) and love using Seventh Sanctum.

Besides writing, what else do you enjoy doing? What are your hobbies?

Love to read, watch a lot of TV, films and stand up comedy, like Call The Midwife, The Big Bang Theory, How To Train Your Dragon 1 and 2 (I love Toothless!) and comedians like Russell Howard, baking and chatting to friends.

What is the best book you’ve read this year?

This year has to be Lockwood & Co: The Whispering Skull by Jonathan Stroud! Second in the series with a cliffhanger to match the first book, The Screaming Staircase. I am in love with this series!

What is the best movie you’ve seen this year?

Has to be Kingsman: The Secret Service. The church scene! The church scene!

What is your favourite book or series of all time?

It changes but I do default to Chinese Cinderella and the Secret Dragon Society by Adeline Yen Mah. Mah weaves a beautiful story of a girl playing her part in World War 2 in occupied Shanghai with wonderful teachings from Chinese philosophy and culture.

Who is your favourite author?

My all time favourite is JK Rowling as she is also my heroine.

What are your plans for the rest of the year in terms of your writing?

Mostly just to write, as I haven’t been in a place to do so for a while due to life. More focused goals are to hopefully get my second NaNoWriMo win and to keep writing my Camp story.

Where else can we find you online?

Aside from here, my main ones are Tumblr and Twitter but you can also find me on NaNoWriMo.


 

Finished! I am tagging Kit from Where Landsquids Fear To Tread, Lizzie from mylittlebookblog, Diane from Tales from Baggins Bottom and Charles from Legends of Windemere. Anyone who I haven’t tagged but would like to do this, go for it!

Three rules for naming your fantasy world

Writers of fantasy, particularly high fantasy, should definitely have a read of this.

Matthew Wright

In my mis-spent early twenties, a friend and I created a fantasy world map for our RPG sessions.

I had to share this pic, taken by She Who Must Be Obeyed. We end up in some interesting places, sometimes. Just in case anybody googles "Stockton Mine". To build a world, start by wearing a hard hat (like mine).

Yes, I played Dungeons and Dragons – and later a game we invented ourselves to get around the sillier D&D ideas. The world was designed around what we might call the ‘rule of funny’, with place names made up mostly of bad puns and motorcycle parts manufacturers. This meant we had waters such as the Greg Lake, next door to rolling hills such as the Sinfields. And there was the Hergest Ridge – though we didn’t have the Old Fields. We also riffed on Tolkien’s unfortunate habit of ending place names with ‘-dor’. You know… Backdor. Frontdor. Dianador. Groan.

That does raise a point for those of us engaged in (more serious) fantasy world-building. Place names gotta be credible. Tolkien, inevitably, set…

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Film Review: The Hobbit 2, The Desolation of Smaug

Let me state now, I have NOT read the book. It is on my Kindle, ready to be read. Also, I will try to make this review with as few, if any, spoilers as possible.

Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), his company of 12 dwarves and 1 hobbit continue their journey through Thranduil’s (Lee Pace) kingdom of Mirkwood, where they encounter more than just Legolas (Orlando Bloom) and Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly), Laketown and up the Lonely Mountain. There, Bilbo (Martin Freeman) encounters Smaug the Dragon (Benedict Cumberbatch) in his search for the Arkenstone. Meanwhile, Gandalf (Sir Ian McKellen) leaves the company again to investigate strange rumours with Radagast (Sylvester McCoy) and find himself in more trouble than anticipated.

This film is a wonderful sequel to the previous film, furthering the story at good pace and expanding the world of Middle Earth. This film starts creating the groundwork and links to the Lord Of The Rings (LOTR) films and features either the same or similar themes that are present in LOTR and featured in the first Hobbit film too.

Greed and obsession are shown through Bilbo succumbing to the power of the ring and through Thorin’s determination to get the Arkenstone at any cost. This is a brilliant parallel between the stories as well as linking the Hobbit films to the original LOTR stories.

Tolkein’s languages are utilised well in this adaptation to give different areas of Middle Earth a specific feel and defines each race in the world. They are also used in such a way that they don’t alienate audiences who have not read any of his work. The writing of this film has the right measures of laughs and shocks and keeps children and adults alike entertained all the way through. The cliffhanger ending is well executed and leaves audiences wanting more.

Weta Digital and Weta Workshop has done a fantastic job again, especially with Smaug the Dragon. He is animated in such detail that combined with the script, audiences would believe that he is real!

The music yet again is a triumph for Howard Shore. Again, the music is easily recognisable as a part of the landscape of Middle Earth but also distinct to the Hobbit (soon-to-be) Trilogy. There are snippets of music from the original LOTR, such as Concerning Hobbits.  Ed Sheeran’s song at the end, I See Fire, fits the film perfectly and is very addictive listening. I keep listening to that song and have done so since I found the song a few weeks ago.

The only concern I have is with the River Barrels scene. There are certain shots that seem very at odds with the rest of the film and do seem to have been put in more for it being viewed in 3D. Whilst it might make sense to have those shots in for 3D, it does jerk the audience out of the film, breaking the suspension of disbelief which is a real shame as the film overall is very well done, from the script, the performances from the actors, the work of Weta and the music.

This is a personal thing but I went into watching the film expecting to be thinking “that’s not Smaug and Bilbo talking together! That’s Sherlock and John!” Instead I found myself thinking, “why is the Seventh Doctor with Gandalf?!”

The film overall is excellent and avoids the second film slump. It is pleasing to fans old and new and is a triumph of film making. Peter Jackson and everyone involved in the film have done excellent and will allow audiences to leave satisfied and looking forward to the next film when it comes out. I highly recommend going to see this film.

Guess which real-world place is most like Mordor…

I have always admired how much work Tolkein put into Middle Earth. I think I have read somewhere that, when he died, he still hadn’t finished working on the world. In my opinion, that makes it even more amazing.

 

Matthew Wright

Last week a British meteorologist at the University of Bristol published a weather analysis of Middle Earth. Tres cool.

Here’s a link to the paper: http://www.bristol.ac.uk/news/2013/10013-english.pdf

According to the report, the weather in The Shire was much the same as that of Lincolnshire – which is pretty much what Tolkien was envisaging. It’s also like Belarus, but that may be coincidence. The place in New Zealand where the weather is closest to The Shire is north of Dunedin. Curiously – though the report didn’t mention it – there’s an area there called Middlemarch, which sounds suitably Tolkienish.

When it comes to Mordor, the real-world place I immediately think of is the open cast coal mine on the Stockton Plateau, which I visited earlier this year. Tolkien’s explicit imagery was First World War trenches and Birmingham factories. But that isn’t where the British meteorologist found Mordor weather. Oh no. turns out the…

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