1. How do you dream up your characters and situations? I start out with a vague idea of what the character is like, and then put them in a situation which will both introduce them to the reader and either establish or advance the plot in some way. As I write the initial scene, the character’s personality will begin to reveal itself to me. (I’ve abandoned more than one book because this didn’t work out and the characters were boring as a result)
2. What are your quirks, so readers can understand you as a writer more than your advertising spiel. I’m a fairly solitary sort but also quite sociable – in other words I enjoy social situations as long as I know I can withdraw at any time, when I start to get tired and want to be by myself again (I get very tetchy if I feel trapped in a situation, or if someone comes bothering me when I’m enjoying some valuable Me time). I also love to collect things, and decorate things.
3. How do you develop your characters? By putting them in different situations and showing how they deal with it, and also by showing how they interact with other characters. Tragedy and peril are a great way to really take it all the way. If a character is put in truly extreme or desperate circumstances, that’s when you find out what they’re really made of (just as it is in real life, of course).
4. What are you reading now? An Evil Love, by Geoffrey Wansell. It’s a biography of notorious serial killer Fred West. These days I mostly read non-fiction, and I’m fascinated by serial killers not because of their crimes but because of the bizarre ways their minds work.
5. Why do you write and what drives you? I’m just a storyteller by nature and have been since before I could read. I have a lot of imagination, and love learning interesting new things, particularly about nature, history and human nature. What drives me to actually write it all down, however, is twofold. First I simply love doing it, and the second is, to be brutally honest, that I’m a very angry person underneath my apparently cheery nature. I’ve always felt like I had something to prove, to show everyone I’m not a big loser. I know that sounds bad, but in fact anger and frustration can be great motivators when properly channelled into something creative. It also means that whenever I experience a setback, my reaction is to get angry and declare “no! I refuse to give up! To hell with all that!”. So I keep on trying instead of becoming depressed and giving up.
6. Who inspires you? Everyone I know, really. One way or another.
7. What inspires you? Mostly my own thoughts and feelings, and once or twice a dream. Yes, I know “it came to me in a dream!” is about as corny as it gets, but because I’ve spent my entire adult life authoring it’s resulted in me becoming very good at controlling my dreams and prone to lucid dreaming. I’ve formulated entire ideas for novels (and more than one TV show) in my sleep, while being entirely aware of what I was doing. It’s… pretty weird.Unfortunately, this also means that when I have nightmares, I really have nightmares.
8. Is there a single thread/ idea/ belief which appears everything you write? I’ve noticed recurring themes in my books, definitely. One of them is the importance of having the freedom to choose, even in the face of the gods themselves. Another is that of defying your own destiny – a lot of my characters are told they have to be or to do this or that, and they fight back against it no matter how much it costs them. There’s also frequently an undercurrent of nihilism and futility; I don’t tend to write straight-up happy endings. Usually they’re either sad or bittersweet.
9. What book/ story/ movie do you wish you’d written? None. My creations are my own, and I’m not interested in being any writer other than the one I am.
10. How often do you think of an idea, but see it’s been done? What do you do? If it’s something minor, like a character name, I change it. But if it’s something as broad as the basic plot premise, I ignore it and carry on because I know the end result will be different than what the other person wrote.