Nyx Book Reviews: Hi Rod, welcome to Nyx Book Reviews! Can you tell us a bit more about yourself?
Rod: Thanks Celine and hello planet Nyx. I am a new author behind 'Curse of Ancient Shadows'; a Young Adult fantasy/ adventure novel featuring Cat Celeste. I live in Norfolk in the United Kingdom with my wife, daughter and a cat with no name. During the day I am a humble computer engineer, but by night (after I've had my tea/dinner, and if I can avoid the fatal lure of Twitter) I write stuff that I hope people will find entertaining.
During my life I've moved around a lot. I spent five years living and working in the USA running my own games company and before that I lived in a colourful bus while exploring the British Isles as a New Age traveller. These days I live in a real house that doesn't have wheels and like to think I've settled down.
Because it's a magical story packed full of distinctive characters and page-turning action, in a highly detailed world that has a deep history. I like to think Curse
of Ancient Shadows will enchant readers and, because it's the first in a series, will keep them coming back for more. It took me fourteen months to write, but the ideas were percolating around in my head years before I got started. The story surrounding Cat Celeste and her struggle to find her parents draws upon this history and detail in a way that I hope imparts the world of 'Ancient Shadows' with a feeling of reality and authenticity.
The process of sculpting the ideas and writing them down was, at times, extremely hard, but I had so much fun, I loved writing this story and I think it shows. I have been gathering ideas for the sequel for a while now. I expect it won't take so long to write because now I'm a more experienced writer.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I walk. I try to do it every day, out in the countryside. The more remote the better. The oxygen stimulates my mind as I turn over characters and plot. As I walk I talk to myself. Sometimes quite loudly. I wave my arms a lot. When I walk along the river, now and again I surprise an angler, they sit upon the bank hiding among the reeds, fishing, pretending they haven't noticed. There's a local legend about a madman who walks the marshes nearby. It occurred to me that I might know who it is.
When I feel I've walked enough, I turn around. That's when the ideas start jumping into my head. As I walk back home I try to answer all the dilemmas posed by the outward journey. If something doesn't work, I chop it up and re-arrange, or throw bits out and try to add stuff that is at complete odds with what I've perceived as the way forward up until that point. It works for me - I get new perspective doing it that way. Then, if I'm not too busy with work commitments, I race home and zing my way through the next scene, on a cool zephyr of coffee and fresh air. That's the ideal. Sometimes I just zing through notes. This question helped me process all that, which is something I feel quite good about. Thanks Celine.
Do you still find time to read yourself? If so, what books have you read lately that you particularly recommend?
I have always been an avid reader. My reading preferences over the years have influenced my writing style - Tolkien, H.P Lovecraft, Dan Brown, Larry Niven, Simon Scarrow to name a few. At this point in time I haven't read a book for over a month because I'm working on my next novel, 'The Orphan Stone', which features Cat Celeste's best friend Hetty Ravensmith. I did read DarkHenge recently by Catherine Fisher, which I'd highly recommend, and Bad Things by Michael Marshall which was a great supernatural thriller. Both books I purchased from a charity shop.
Not sure I'm qualified to offer other authors tips or advice, but I'll do my best.
Get busy. No matter how bad it is, just make sure you write. When writing your story during the early drafts you are only talking to yourself, so embrace thatfreedom. Don't procrastinate too much during the early stages of writing a novel.
It might seem like an obvious point but having nothing written down means your creativity is draining away as you forget ideas. I keep a pen and notepad by my bed as ideas often hit me when I'm in that nebulous mental state right before you go to sleep (which can be problematic if you've got an early start). I make a point of waking myself and writing them down. Your brain will happily juggle ideas for the next blockbuster all day (and night) but that won't do you any good in a month when you've forgotten or switched interest because you didn't keep a record.
Nurture resilience. On days when you feel the whole writing gig is a complete waste of time, train yourself to ignore the little voice in your head that's making you feel bad about your writing. What's it trying to achieve anyway? To make you give up? Forget it! You know if you gave up writing you'd be back at it in a few weeks with some new ideas.
Thank you for answering my questions! (:
Thank you too for giving me the opportunity to let people know about my work! And thanks to your readers for taking an interest :)