About CC Hogan:
I am a painfully private person, not quite a hermit, though I am working on it. You will notice the lack of photograph and instead a small, silly cartoon. This is not me being clever, but simply because I think I have a really bad face for selling books.
I spent many, many years in the entertainment and media industry until I was getting close to throttling certain well known personalities, at which point I thought I should try something quieter. My liver was grateful too.
For the last several years I have been a copywriter and a musician, but I have been playing with poetry and fiction in those small quiet moments often found between very noisy. A couple of years ago I decided to make a go of it and have been spending my time writing non-stop, firstly to finish a book I started a long time ago called The Stink, and currently working on a huge fantasy called Dirt.
I love story telling. It is simply the best way to fall in love.
What inspires you to write?
For me writing is a direct result of wanting to talk way too much. All animals adore communication of many sorts, whether it is the complicated babble of the human or the gentle, warm hug of a mother bear.
I get inspired by wanting to communicate with you. Tell you something, make you feel something, make you laugh, cry, remember, love; all the things that I want to do and want to share.
People inspire me more than things. Sometimes it is the ubiquitous “face on a bus,” but more often it is a memory of a person, or the idea of an emotion.
I am inspired by women far more than men. This is not simply because I love women more, which I do, but because they are braver and more open. When something hurts a woman, you can feel it across the room. It lances through you and makes you turn and think. I defy anyone not to be inspired by that.
Tell us about your writing process.
I started out by wanting to be a “Seat of the pants” writer, but soon realised that this was just bone-idle laziness.
Now I am a OneNote Addict! I make notes about everything – characters, names, places, backgrounds, vehicles, weather, politics – everything that might inform both my characters and my story.
This does not mean that I put myself in a straight jacket. I am certainly not one to believe that having planned everything you have to stick with it, but I know that if I do not keep track of my process I can create serious problems. Wrong weather, character changes gender mysteriously, change the spelling of a name, get a birth place wrong…
I work in layers. I start by roughing out the entire plot and I try and keep this to a page or two. I really blast my way through this ignoring any contradictions or impossibilities. One done I then start mapping out my stories into sections, thinking about the characters and so on till have have a little more flesh on the story.
Then I start writing. Now, at this stage I really am not ready, but I have found that to get into the real detail I have to ask myself the right questions, and those don’t come so easily. Once I start working on the first chapter, however, then they start popping up. “John liked his cake,” I might write. Does he? Why? Oh, better go a note about that!
Soon I find I have stopped writing and am beginning to plan out chapters. I create a Onenote page for each chapter, list the characters that will appear, the time of day/year/weather, location and then write the plot for the chapter.
Sometimes these are little more than a couple of paragraphs, sometimes they are very detailed indeed. In my fantasy, DIrt, which is currently around 900,000 words long, my notebook must have three hundred pages in it covering everything I know about my characters and the world they inhabit.
It didn’t start out that way, however. I keep onenote open all the time while I am writing and if I think of anything while writing, I have taught myself to just stop for a second and note it down. Some say this spoils the flow, but that is rubbish. Note making is PART of the flow and it reflects how the human brain works. Our brain is not organised like a computer, indeed most brains are a complete mess of information, experiences and ideas. We are capable of leaping from one thing to another simply because that is the human default. We are an imperfect being – if we were not, creativity would not exist.
One additional thing about planning and making notes – remember to waffle. I am terrible at lists, so when I map out a character I don’t list what they look like, what their fave album is or anything, I treat them like someone down the pub – I just talk nonsense about them. It makes them real.
If you want to know more about me using OneNote, check out my blog: http://cchogan.com/onenote-novel-template/ – I have even created a notebook for OneNote 365 that you can download and use.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Talk to my characters? I take them to bed!
I argue with them, fall out with them, hug them… I have even on occasionally written poems about them. There is one character of mine who is a right little pain, but I am madly in love with her.
Characters are the bedrock of any story. They come with their own hangups, own fears, own loves and, of course, their own story. If you do not know what that is, how the hell do you know how they are going to react to your story? So, you need to ask them.
Baddies as well as goodies!
For fun, here is a poem:
“May I?” Asked the author
Leaning on his quill
“Of course,” said the girl.
“Will I be pretty still?”
“You will,” said the writer
A chuckle on his face,
“For you know I’ll always love you,”
And he drew a smiley face.
The girl sat down and watched him
As he wrote another line
And she nodded, happy now
That all would now be fine
“There girl,” said the author
As he closed the book with laughter
“See, you went and won the day
And lived happily ever after”
What advice would you give other writers?
It really is as simple as that. I am not a success, yet, but I hope I will be. However, If I do not keep writing, do not keep inventing, then I never will be.
Oh, and please have fun! Remember that your first reader is you. If you do not enjoy reading back what you have written, what is the point?
One little tip. The general good advice is to read back your words out loud. Good advice, but I would go one stage further. Get on your feet and do not just read, but perform it! Be the actor, be the voice over star. You will find far more mistakes that way, but you will also find beat and soul of your story and if you break that, if it becomes awkward, you will know it in double quick time!
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I didn’t decide how to publish my books – the inability to find an agent sort of made up my mind for me so, for the moment, I am self published. I do not know if I will remain self published, we shall see.
Having an agent/publisher does have a lot of advantages. Primarily they come with cheque books and promotional expertise. You can do it as a self published author, but it will be far harder.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I am really not very sure. I suspect that the market as it is is probably as it will stay for a while with a split between those who have publishers and those who do not.
The change I hope most for, and it is happening a little, is when main stream media start spending more time looking at the independent sector, especially the non-print, and take it as seriously as the main stream publishers. I think there is a lot of talent out there that is unrecognised. Me, for instance! (Not boasting or anything…)
What genres do you write?: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fantasy
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.