About Alasdair Shaw:
I studied at the University of Cambridge, leaving with a BA in Natural Sciences and an MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. My masters options included gravitational astrophysics, planetary geophysics, remote sensing and high resolution electron microscopy. I went on to earn a PGCE specialising in Science and Physics from the University of Bangor. A secondary teacher for over ten years I have plenty of experience communicating scientific ideas.
I grew up in Lancashire, within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales, Pennines, Lake District and Snowdonia. After stints living in Cambridge, North Wales and the Cotswolds I have lived in Somerset since 2002.
I have been climbing, mountaineering, caving, kayaking and skiing as long as I can remember. Growing up I spent most of my spare time in the hills.
Landscape archaeology has always been one of my interests; when you spend a long time in the outdoors you start noticing things and wondering how they came to be there. At university I included geophysics in my options.
I am an experienced mountain and cave leader, holding a range of qualifications including ML, SPA and LCL. I am also a course director for climbing and navigation award schemes.
What inspires you to write?
Primarily I write because I enjoy creating things and communicating ideas. I started with non-fiction as it was something I knew really well. I published the Walking through the Past series of walking guides to remote archaeological sites around Britain, combining two of may passions. Then I wrote The Best Bits of Physics, a continuation of my day job as a science teacher. Now I am working on science fiction, my favourite genre to read.
I also write delivery guides, exam papers, topic tests and revision guides on contract. Whilst the process is still rewarding they are more for paying the bills.
Tell us about your writing process.
I tend to start with a structure, a technical format of the story. In Independence this was the telling of a set of events from two different characters’ perspectives, one of which gets clearer and other less clear as time goes on. In Liberty it was starting just before a significant event but then going back to explain what lead to it.
Then I outline the key events. Mostly this is done in my head while out walking or in the shower. As the ideas start to coalesce I jot them down, at first as notes on my ‘phone but then into a word processed document.
Next I pick a scene and write it until I run out of steam. I pick another and another. Sometimes I go back and continue one I’ve already done. As time goes on they join up.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My main characters so far have all been aspects of myself so I know them pretty well. In fact, writing them is a good way to explore my own mind.
I do hold conversations, in my head, with other characters. As the main ones tend to be parts of me I play that part!
What advice would you give other writers?
If the words aren’t flowing today don’t force it – you’ll find you have to go back and rewrite that section another day any way.
Leave your manuscript for a while then go back to it afresh.
Never buy a review.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Fuss was my main concern. I have a very busy life, including work and family, so couldn’t take the time to chase agents and have lots of meetings. It took half an hour to publish my first book.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Big publishers will keep going but small houses will lose to self-publishing unless they happen to have a really good niche.
Hopefully vanity publishing will disappear.
What genres do you write?: military science fiction, popular science, walking guides, archaeology
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.