Reading and it’s effect on Writing.

Going from the title, you might be fooled into thinking that I am going to regale you with a scholarly essay.

You’re in luck though…there’s a reason that I hated English A Level…

Actually, I just finished reading “Lies Sleeping” by Ben Aaronovitch.

It was one of my christmas presents and all the way through I enjoyed the experience.  I always do. Mostly because it’s like Ben Aaronovitch seems to have read all the same books as me – I’m forever catching the literary version of what film buffs like to call Easter Eggs – and we appear to have the same sense of humour.  Which probably explains all the Pratchett references…

However, this time round I finished the book and found myself thinking two things;

1) I wish I could write something that good.

2) I now see the reason that Sir Terry Pratchett and various other big authors have said “When you’re writing, you shouldn’t read in the genre you’re writing in.”

The first thought, is what I always think when I read one of my favourite authors. Doesn’t matter if it’s STP, King, Tolkien, Carriger, Howey, Eddings, Reichs, Slaughter… I always feel in awe of the story I’ve just read and the author whose imagination it came out of.

The second one requires a bit more explanation though.

Thinking about all the books I have read over the years, I’ve read a startling breadth of stories and authors. I started with Enid Blyton, Lewis Carroll and CS Lewis, passed through Tolkien, Eddings, Bradbury, Clarke, Herbert, Anthony, McCaffrey,  Michener, Le Guin, Anthony… you get the idea.
I took in Stephen King, James Herbert, Dean Koontz and various other horror writers. I spent some time in Romance Land (yes, even Mills & Boon) and although I don’t remember any of the authors (other than the Grande Dame of that realm, Barbara Cartland) they all delighted me while I read them.

They’ve all had an effect on my writing, even if I don’t know it. I adore STP, but I can’t deliberately write Comedic Fantasy. I’ve been told that there’s a certain humour to my fantasy though, so something must have rubbed off on me.

The problem is, when you read exclusively in one genre, you don’t just pick up small touches of each author’s voice; you start sounding like them enough that it could be considered plagiarism.  I had a brush with that when I was at Uni –  I helped TOH with his written coursework for the course we were doing together,  and I’d changed his personal “voice” enough that it sounded like he’d copied my work!

That time, he was accused of plagiarising me… and I really don’t want to have my work sound so much like my favourite authors that I get sued for plagiarism! Hence why I thought the second thought…

So what’s the fix? I have to read in my favourite genre to keep up with my favourite authors or any trends, but I don’t want to sound like them. Any ideas?

20 Questions – Author Edition!

 It’s been a while since I did a blog post. I’ve been in a bit of a creative slump, so I’m combating it by knitting a jumper , watching movies and playing Pokemon Go with my kids.
However, I haven’t stayed offline totally; I have too many author friends on Facebook to let go entirely – I have to keep up with their exploits, book launches and all the other fun that goes with them.

There’s a game that a lot of them are playing (Created by Author M. L. Preston) called “20 Author Questions” and I thought I would use the questions as the basis of a blog post for my readers (yes, all four of them *Grins and Winks*) and I’ll put them into an FAQ Page for anyone else that wants to find out about me!

1.) What is your Author name: I have two – Kira Morgana is my Pure Fantasy / Children’s pen name and A. E. Churchyard is for my more adult stories.

2.) What is the first book you ever published: That was “The Tower and The Eye: A Beginning”. It was originally  self published but then was picked up by Pfoxmoor under their Pfoxchase imprint.

3.) What is your publiversary? March 2011

4.) What is your favorite book you’ve written thus far:  I don’t have a favourite yet.

5.) What book took you the longest to write: That would be “Kingdom of The Seven Towers” – the first draft of that was 180,000 words long.

6.) How long did it take you?  It took me five years to finish, with various short stories interspersed when Puff ran out on me for the main project.

Sadly I lost the original story, but I have all the notes and maps (just the basic world building took me a year) and I know the basic plot, so I’ve been working on rebooting it.

7.) What kind of music (If Any) do you listen to while you write? I listen to all sorts of music while I write when I can, but most of the time, my background noise is children’s TV…

8.) Who is your favorite character from any of your books? I have several favourites. From Quargard (The Tower and The Eye) it’s Pigsnout the Wanderer; From Arking Down (The Angel’s Crown), it’s Rilx the Vir’Astillian; and in The Land Far Away it’s Pika the Phluph.

9.) What are you currently working on:  I’m editing “Pigsnout the Wanderer” for Blue Hour Publishing and writing the first draft of a couple of different projects – a novella called “Snow & Kitsune” and a novel called ” Teacups & Time Travel”.

10.) Do you have anything you snack on while you write? I drink a lot of Limonata, Lime cordial and soda water, Tea and Coffee. Snacks wise, my weakness is sweets, especially what most people think of as kids sweets – pick’n’mix, Haribo, Starbursts…

11.) What is your favorite quote or line from one of your books: I don’t have one at the moment, but I’d be interested to hear if any of my readers have one!

12.) Are you a self-published or traditional published author? I’m a Hybrid. I have a collaboration with another author/illustrator, Maria K. on The Land Far Away series and The Tower and The Eye is published by Blue Hour Publishing. I also indie publish through Smashwords and Amazon.

13.) What is your writing inspiration?  I’m inspired by all sorts of things. Snow & Kitsune is inspired by Ancient Japanese culture and folklore, The Tower and The Eye is inspired by my love of Sword & Sorcery / Tabletop RPG.  Arking Down is a mish-mash of influences from Science Fiction and Fantasy.

14.) What genre do you write in? Fantasy / Science Fiction Fantasy mostly. I have tried Horror, but my heart isn’t in it.

15.) Do you have any writing rituals? Not really. I get interrupted too much to be able to develop any!

16.) Do you have a specific place you write or time? My Writing Nook is all packed up at the moment (damnable damp) so it’s the couch for me at the moment; not a great option because I am interrupted too much / get distracted easily.

17.) Do you have any advice for Aspiring writers? Write what you want to write. Not what you think will sell, not what you think publishers and agents want to read, not even what you think other people will want to read. Write your stories for yourself and have fun doing it, and they will find readers.

18.) What are your writing goals? If any?  To entertain my Readers, to have fun doing it and to get as many books out into the world as I possibly can before I wander over the Bifrost to the Summerlands…

19.) What authors inspire you and your writing?  David Eddings, Terry Pratchett, Robert Jordan, Dianne Wynne Jones, Monica Hughes… the list is too long for this question! I am constantly finding new authors to read and love – my latest ones are Gail Carriger and Ben Aaronovitch.

They inspire me to write and are my heroes, but I try very hard to keep my writing “voice” my own.

20.) What will be your next release? If you know and when? Hmm – Nothing is Scheduled at the moment; but as “Pigsnout” is in editing, that will probably be the next book out – unless I can get “Snow & Kitsune” finished first. Watch this space!

“So much universe, and so little time… “

If you haven’t heard the news of Sir Terry Pratchett’s final trip into Discworld on the arm of DEATH  himself, then go forth and acquaint yourself. I’ll wait here while you google it…

Sir Terry Pratchett – RIP

I have been a Kevin (my own favourite designation for a STP Fan) since I started earning my own money and buying my own books – about the age of 13. I’d read the Bromeliad Trilogy when I was a little younger and loved it, so when I suddenly had the money to buy my own books, I jumped at the chance to pick up “The Colour of Magic.”

Reading it was like a light-bulb flickering into life in my head.

I’d always loved Fantasy (Eddings, Tolkien, Lewis, Carroll, Brooks, Le Guin all had been read and enjoyed), and I’d read a few comedic fantasy books through the library – Piers Anthony, Tom Holt and Dan McGirt – but nothing inspired my imagination like the gentle-fun-poking-at-fantasy-tropes that Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series did.
I devoured each book as I read it and re-read them often in the few years before I went to University. I managed to hook my boyfriend on him as well and together we have spent many hours laughing at the jokes.

I managed to get the first 20 books of my collection signed and dedicated when the Great Man himself was doing a signing at a small indie bookshop in Plymouth. I was the only person there that had the whole set with them (I lived around the corner from the bookshop) and I waited four hours to have that moment with him – the film crew doing a documentary for Ch4 with him insisted I wait until the end of the signing…

He was polite and friendly (despite being very tired and having aching wrists) when we chatted and as he finished each book, the crew broke the spine (I still wince about it) and took a photo of the dedication before I could put it away. They were (and still are) my most prized possession.  I would be devastated if anything happened to them.

I met him again a few years later at another signing – this time with my young son in tow. Again he chatted to m e and I was as starstruck as ever.
I’ve bought every book he’s written (I’m still missing a few) and once my collection is complete, I will read and re-read them over and over again.

He was a great man and his journey into the black desert with DEATH is one of the saddest days of my life so far. He increased my love of reading a thousandfold, he inspired me to write my own stories and to share them with the world at large. He has given me joy and laughter with every book and I have found friends who enjoy those books as well.

I will raise a glass of appropriately strong alcoholic beverage to his memory later tonight (after the baby has gone to sleep) and more than likely, I will yet again cry as if a member of my own family has died.

So here is my Toast to him.

To the Words he gave us to read and the words he inspired in a generation of writers.
To the Fun and Imagination that he inspired in his Fans.
To the Creation of a World that will live beyond his lifespan.
To all the laughs, all the tears, the wits, the irony and his immense compassion.*
To a Life very well lived.*
“May his voice ever be heard, and his name ever spoken, for it is written no man is gone if his name still be spoken.”*

Rest In Peace, Sir Terry Pratchett.

Footnote –
* These lines came from fellow Kevins;  Andrea Núñez Molina, Crystal Jones and Rômulo Nascimento of the Third Person Group. They said it better than I did, so I borrowed their words… they can have them back now…