Happy New Year! I will be jumping into the ring for the 52-week writing challenge devised by K.F. Goodacre to get deeper into the processes of a writer, because why not? It’ll probably push me to engage with this blog more actively and give you more insights into what the hell it is I’m doing when I’m talking about writing. For a full list of questions click here for the original post. I anticipate that I’ll inevitably slip up on the weekly situation so will likely do a double post or three at some point…
I have to confess my complete trepidation of doing an extended soul-bearing about my writing. Usually I adopt a “write and never tell a soul” approach but in recent years I’ve been shrugging off that shier veneer. Some quick stipulations: I cycle through WIPs (work in progress(es)) fairly quickly and my technical WIP is a sequel to the one I’ll be discussing named Umbra: The War of the Twins and I’m doing this to avoid general spoilery content for both you and some of my beta readers. So think of this as a sort of the DVD specials for a film that’s already been released. I’ll do my best to steer clear of spoilers.
Question 1: Your inspiration/motivation for writing the book
I’ve definitely spoken about the development cycle of Umbra before in more depth, but as a short refresher: I read the book Pawn of Prophecy by David Eddings after having spotting it and picking it up in WH Smith basically because I liked the cover. It had all I sought at 14: adventure, magic (or sorcery), princesses, swords! It lit a flame in my imagination that’s been burning since.
Authors like Robin Hobb, George R.R. Martin, and Brandon Sanderson have been huge influences as well as numerous video games, but in particular those helmed by Yasumi Matsuno stick out to me. Mastuno is perhaps best known for his work on Final Fantasy Tactics, Vagrant Story, and Final Fantasy XII, although it’s Tactics, XII, and a remaster of the 90s classic Tactics Ogre that I have firsthand experience of. Matsuno typically creates rich, complex, and very dark worlds but neither does he shy from the fantastical either and especially with the presentation of the setting of XII, which combines magic and technology, it’s influenced the setting of my fictional world Delka. I’ve used “diesel punk” before which is a kind of a post WWII/1950s aesthetic—pistols and pistons, lotta smoke, berets, bulky armour, and contraptions—which if you do a Google search you can see what is meant by that terms but picture way less smoke. More this aesthetic or this than anything but in terms of the sophistication, diesel punk is pretty close. You’ll see a lot of swords and lances and the like, still, which is why I maintain the Matsuno-type games as closer to what I have in mind (though many other games do similar).
Matsuno usually partners with musical composers Masaharu Iwata and Hitoshi Sakimoto, and the artist Akihiko Yoshida, so there’s a consistency of tone across the various works they produce. Naturally these soundtracks are common when I am writing in the world of Delka.
(I struggled with what song especially I could sample from XII but I settled on this one.)
I wrote recently in a sort of biography box of a literary submission I made that my motivation to write is out of necessity: akin to needing air, I need to write (while also stipulating the melodrama and cliché of such a statement). The earliest stories I wrote were comics from aged seven, but I see no signs of slowing, even if I never achieve my dream of getting my words published.