Today, I’m joined by author Martin Bolton. I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about his process!
1. When did you start writing?
I’ve been writing since I was about twelve years old. I wrote lyrics then, inspired by the hip hop music I had been listening to since the age of about nine. Those lyrics told stories just as my books do now.
I didn’t write anything but lyrics until about five years ago when I started writing nonsensical blogs on my Myspace site for the amusement of my friends. I wrote one called Kerrier District News, which was a spoof of the local news stories I used to read in Redruth (Cornwall) when I was growing up. It was not much more than a series of ridiculous headlines but when David Pilling (now my fantasy co-writer) read it he encouraged me to write a blog with full news stories.
So Kerrier District News was born and became quite popular, especially with people back home. Then about three years ago we decided to write something serious together.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I’d say a bit of both. I don’t usually write until I a have an idea, then I’ll try and work out the beginning, middle and ending, sometimes I’ll write a synopsis. Then I end up “pantsing” it when I vier off course and the story grows sort of organically. I think it is good to have a balance between planning and pantsing.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
I suppose I have two writing processes. The first is a co-writing process. When I wrote The Best Weapon with David Pilling it started in a pub. We found that we could thrash out a synopsis over a few decent ales and scribble some illegible notes on beer-stained paper, as well as some maps that look as though they were drawn by chimps. Then, over the following days, we each wrote our agreed sections and I drew some better maps. This process was repeated several times for each chapter. We found that not only did it give birth to some really good characters and story lines, but it was a lot of fun as well, and I think that comes across in the book. You can read more about it in my blog about co-writing a novel at http://boltonthewriter.wordpress.com/2012/02/16/co-writing-a-novel/
The second is my own writing process I use when I work alone. I generally come up with a loose idea with very rough edges, and sometimes no edges at all. I’ll try to write a proper synopsis but if I’m struggling to decide how it ends I’ll just started writing and the ideas usually come to me as I go. Unfortunately it can be a slow process and I can be very indecisive, I find it easier when I have beer and someone to bounce ideas off.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
Robert E Howard has probably influenced me most of all as I am into that kind of fantasy – Conan and Solomon Kane are great characters and fantasy fiction owes a lot to him.
Writers like Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch have helped me give my fantasy writing a gritty, down-to-earth edge and make it more believable.
Bernard Cornwell is a great story-teller and has certainly influenced me in that sense. I could go on and on so I’ll stop there!
5. What are you plans/future projects/new releases that we should be aware of?
We are currently working on our epic fantasy, Sorrow, which is being released as a monthly serial by Musa Publishing. Part 4: The Gelded Wolf came out just before Christmas. This leads on from The Best Weapon (our fantasy novel released in March 2012 by Musa) and follows the race for possession of a mysterious child, reputedly a decedent of the very first people and possessing great power. The child is named Sorrow after the prophecy predicting his birth and he is wanted by every leader in the World Apparent. In the belief that he will make them all powerful, they will stop at nothing to find him first. The story begins with Sorrow’s tribe, ancient nomads, being wiped out by an unknown enemy, leaving only him alive. The next issue (Sorrow Part 8: The Crooked Man) is due for release on 3 May 2013.
I am currently working on my own fantasy short story called The Moment of Silence which, due to my indecision, is taking ages and I have no idea when it will be finished!
I also write for The 900 Club, an exclusive group of five writers who each write a short story every month of exactly 900 words excluding the title. The only requirement is that each story contains a specified two-word phrase, which is different each month. The stories are posted on the last day of the month at http://900club.wordpress.com/.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Keep going! Don’t let anyone put you off by not taking you seriously or giving you negative criticism or, most annoying, banging on about what a difficult industry it is. We all know it is difficult but you don’t choose to do something because it is easy, you choose to do it for your own reasons, so don’t let go of those reasons and don’t stop believing you can do it. Also, don’t be afraid to ask old writers for advice, they might be well established or whatever, so it can be daunting, but you’ll often find they are eager to offer advice, after all, they were in your shoes once.
7. Any tips for old writers?
I wouldn’t know where to start. I want old writers to give me tips. Give me some tips. Read my books! Ummm…to avoid nosy neighbours, crawl around your house on all fours?
My books available from Musa Publishing:
The 900 Club:
Kerrier District News (comes with a warning that some may find the content offensive or just incoherent!)
Bolton and Pilling facebook page: