Blog Hop


…although Blog Hog or Blop Hop sound better…

 The game is on!

 I’m delighted that this game of tag is of the sitting down variety as my skills at the physical type vanished when I was about twelve. I’ve been tagged by Boopadoo, a terrific writer who blogs here: Boopadoo  and on Writerlot.   

Blog Hop Rules

 Answer the following questions, then tag someone else (or someones elses; up to 5). So here are the contents of my cranium, answers dissected out, not necessarily neatly.

 What am I working on?

 The perfect murder: Frank’s dream, Izzy’s nightmare.

 My main work in progress is a MG medical detective story in which three kids stumble across a potential murder. Believed by no-one, not even the victim herself, they need to work out if they’re even right, then take a massive risk to try and save Izzy’s godmother before the final blow falls. A dying girl pitches in with them; a move which may ultimately save her own life. As the mists of uncertainty clear, they realize that they’re clashing with a mind as evil as it is brilliant.

 With the attention span of a butterfly, there are often several things rattling around my head at the same time which in writerly terms is a Bad Thing. Ignoring my own advice to try and concentrate on one thing, dear, I’m also converting my animated film script into a book. The script was co-written with my eldest son who luckily possesses the talent of being able to laugh and type the same time.

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

 The progeny of my cerebral cortex, is, like the brain itself, totally original. Just like all other writers. A paradox; while original, exactly the same. One hundred people writing two sentences on a fried egg would produce entirely different slants; my egg would probably have a slimy adventure down a drain, engulfing rats, but I doubt everyone else’s would. Or even one person else’s.

 Even with my high octane adventures, I try to thread in humour as it makes it more fun to write and even a single laugh or wry smile can brighten a reader’s day. When my characters come to life inside my head, it’s like a voluntary multiple personality state. Maybe it’s Freudian that one of them is called Frank. The characters are strong, some of whom I’d love to hang out with, some I really wouldn’t. They reveal their personalities mainly through dialogue, to the extent that on occasion a character will say something that startles even me. Yes, they do drive the story; I think I’m more like the sat nav, giving direction.

Why do I write what I write?

 Because I’m curious. A story bubbles up in my head and I absolutely have to know the ending. As I write 95% by the seat of my pants and 5% by plotting, I don’t know what will happen next; every writing day is an adventure. It’s like living with a slowly evolving motion picture inside my head.

It’s been a fascinating path writing fiction, as my previous novel was fantasy, so I could toss in anything I liked. This desire to keep adding the bizarre and continue stirring took root on the school run. Rolling along, I’d be telling a tale about a girl who had created tartan ink and was using the spell on an aardvark, when a small voice from the back would ask, ‘And what about the fluffy pink dragon?’ ‘Of course, I was just coming to that.’ ‘And the flying yeti with three legs, who loves surfing and lives with his guitar playing, Olympic snowballer godmother?’ ‘What a coincidence. Yarold was about to enter, stage left.’

Reality has its clutches firmly in fiction, so the facts have to add up; frustrating, caffeine-overload inducing, but it undoubtedly keeps the brain in gear.

 How does my writing process work?

 Something drops into my head spontaneously. The timing is often dreadful; flying down the motorway, I have an idea and then as I let my mind wander closer, the adventure begins to evolve. The result is brain strain as I frantically try to hold onto it all until I can lay quill to parchment.

The idea is plotted out roughly, by hand, in a notebook, although the ultimate ending is usually not obvious. Mind mapping is great if I get stuck, as dropping wads of ideas onto an enormous piece of paper, allowing my thoughts to meander where they will, is an ideal way to nail a few sticky points as well as kickstarting creativity. My brain loves it- ideas jumping out like popcorn.

Then the skeleton needs to be fleshed out. Once they make having no typing ability at all a desired attribute, my worth will go up by at least two camels, from my current  two goats and a medium-size rabbit. I use six fingers to type, but the five on my left hand are wrapped around a cup of tea as the right index bashes the keyboard. Slowly. So I use voice recognition software, the joy of which is that I can get everything on a file at talking speed, ie that of machine gun fire. Once I start to write, it feels as if somebody’s telling me the story and all I’m doing is repeating it. The first draft comes out as a bit of a romp through, poor English, often with space savers, like one paragraph where ultimately a  two page fight scene will be implanted. It’s as necessary as scaffolding and equally pretty. Re-edit ad nauseam smooths off all the rough bits and adds in the odd gems here and there until it looks much more sparkly. And sparky. Also fighty and emotional.

 So on to tagging.

I would like to tag:

  Jean Naggar, literary agent, who has written a fascinating book which has received stunning reviews, Sipping from the Nile, describing her family’s years in, and eventual exile from, Egypt during a time of political unrest. Her blog can be found here

 Mark Lloyd who is the founder of Pillar International Publishing and an extraordinarily talented and funny writer. His blog is here

 Carolyn George, an entrepreneur with an enormously varied career.  Currently she is raising alpacas in the depths of southern France while she creates the follow up to Lies, Truth and Scandal. Her blog can be found here

 The baton has been passed. Pick it up and run my team (while sitting down). Another paradox.


May 2014


About alisongardiner1

Writer of YA series of books. Broadcaster/podcaster Litopia After Dark.
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