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I started writing what would now be called short stories (20-30 pages) when I was about 10 years old. At that time I was heavily influenced by the television shows of the time, things like Airwolf, The A-Team, and other campy adventure tales. But I knew that I wanted to write, and so I did. I wrote my own versions of some of these sorts of stories, with the hope that at some point I might see them put to print. I still have a few of them now, written in pencil mostly, inside those paper-covered exercise notebooks we used to use when I was in grade school. Trust me, they're really bad! LoL
To put a date to it, I have been making a concentrated effort toward writing as a hobby --- with an eye toward real publication! --- since I was about 8 years old. That makes something like thirty-plus years of practice, practice, practice! Who knows, maybe some day I'll make it perfect!
That one's hard to answer. Some days I can spend all afternoon at the keyboard watching page after page after page just roll off my fingertips like magic. Other days I can spend hours staring at a blank screen, willing something to appear, but to no avail. As any author will tell you, when the inspiration hits it's exciting as all hell! But when it's not there, all the swearing and sweating in the world won't make that page come to life.
I think I read somewhere that Stephen King devotes something like 3-4 hours a day to writing, whether he comes up with 1 page or 10 pages, but he aims for 3-4 good pages each day. That's great if you have no other career in place and can actually live on writing as a full-time job. For me, though, my writing time is usually after work and after dinner, between 8.00 PM and 12.00 AM, and sometimes later, if the work is going well. I think I manage about 2-4 days a week, and an occasional full weekend when the weather is crappy. Other than that, though, I don't work on a schedule. I do have a life away from the keyboard, after all!
Ah, the most common question any writer is asked. For me, being a huge movie buff and a real book-reader allows me to envision where I think a story should head next. If I am considering a continuation of a franchise such as Firefly, I think about where I want to see the characters go, and in which direction the storyline should progress. I try to keep the themes and overall concepts as close to the guiding format of the original series, but expansion requires original thinking, and so I make the story entirely my own and dive in from there.
Most of my original ideas come from tidbits of information I pick up from day to day, things like discovering that there was a prisoner-of-war camp in Gravenhurst during World War II, or investigating the Leacock Museum here in Orillia. these places have developed into the book that I am working on right now, called Wolves In the Wire.
Sometimes a single idea can blossom into a whole book, while other times it is just an urge to see something written that is a better or different idea than what is already out there -- such as my take on the vampire mythos in The Immortal Chronicles.
As far as continuations and tie-ins go, my ideas mostly come from the inspiration of the original work itself, such as Stephen King's magnum opus that is The Dark Tower series. As a huge fan, I couldn't wait to devour the last book of the saga, but when it was all said and done I felt that there was more story that could be told about the world around the main characters. That's why I set my two books in the generations before King's Roland character. Sort of like George Lucas's Star Wars prequels telling the story before the original story.
And sometimes I have no idea where the notion for a new story comes from at all. It just sort of pops up in my head and won't go away. Sort of like the mystery project that I have been playing with for a few weeks now. That's one that no one here on the site knows about just yet, but they will, in due time. Is it a good idea or a bad idea? You be the judge.
I have taken a lot of flak over the years for finding myself writing tie-ins or continuations of other projects, but in my mind writing is writing. There are quite a few authors that have made names for themselves with this type of work, and while many of them are also known for their own original stories, they have become well-known names just as much for their tie-in work. To that end, I have always felt that if there is a story to be told, whether the characters or the overall subject is new or a continuation of someone else's creation, it is the story that is original, and that make the project worthwhile.
Under the Projects page I have a wholly original book entitled Nuremberg that is currently in the works. This is a murder mystery based in pre-War Nazi Germany. It is a work-in-progress, but it is coming along quite nicely.
Many of the titles in the On the Block and Bits & Pieces pages are original works, though some -- like my 007 and Tomb Raider efforts -- are merely exercises in writing new styles and formats of stories.
I am hoping to put a few more original stories like The Immortal Chronicles up on the site as time permits, but at the moment my work with Firefly/Serenity is taking up most of my time.
I usually hate this question, right along with "How many pages are your books?". It always sounds like it matters to the asker whether or not my interests are the same as theirs.
Does it really matter what I write? Or does it matter more that I write in the first place?
If my books are 2,000 pages long, does that make them more or less legitimate than if they were only 200 pages long?
I write whatever I feel like writing when I sit down in front of my computer and start typing. Some days I feel like writing historical fiction; other days it's horror or sci-fi. There's no less legitimacy from one genre to the other, in my opinion. Am I aiming for the Nobel Prize for Literature? Hell, no! I just do it because it's in my blood and it wants out!
If you want to know what I write, take a look at the listings on my Projects page, and on the other pages here on the site. Who knows, maybe tomorrow I'll write a cook book!