“Memes of Loss and Devotion” is his first collection of science fiction and horror short stories. A science fiction novel, “The Fomalhaut Plague” will follow shortly. His second novel “glorious”, a futuristic gothic horror story, will be released after that.
Darren has been writing since he was a child. Unfortunately, none of his early ‘novels’ have survived. He wrote short stories throughout his teens. In 1999 his screenplay for “glorious” was long short-listed in the Orange / Pathé screen writing competition.
Since the 1990’s he has worked in IT. He is a Chartered Information Technology Professional, a Chartered Member of the British Computer Society and an Incorporated Engineer. He currently works as a Project Manager on ‘Big Data’ insight initiatives.
He has an interest in popular physics, molecular biology, astro physics, technology and computing. He knows just enough to be able to Google any required information.
All he has ever wanted to do is entertain and thrill with his writing.
What inspires you to write?
Perhaps a more appropriate question would be ‘what compels you to write?’ For me, I feel this strong compulsion to entertain and thrill with my writing. I also have this theory that most writers are just compulsive liars, permanently embellishing the details of their lives. Writing gives them the opportunity to pick apart the weave of the different threads of their lives – situations, conversations, secrets – then legitimately re-weave those strands into the fabric of their novels. Finally, I guess that like most entertainers, it’s a form of showing off and an opportunity to display assumed mental prowess.
Tell us about your writing process.
I keep extensive notes as I work on a book. I use OneNote because it allows me to dump everything I find – websites, text, pictures, drawings, tables, research, etc… – into sub pages. I create a new notebook for a novel then a tab for each aspect such as plot, treatment, background, characters and research etc. As things occur to me I can make notes on the nearest device such as a PC, laptop, tablet or even phone, and it’s all backed up and synchronised via MS Skydrive.
As far as the plot goes, I can begin to write it out and then go back and add to it by simply typing more detail in. At some point I begin to chunk this into chapters. I then estimate the chapter lengths and record this in a spread sheet so I can make decisions about pace, minimum length and where the act breaks etc.. are. I update the spread sheet with actual scene/chapter lengths as I write. This sounds very mechanical and formulaic but there are rules to writing, and you have to master the archetype before you can break those rules.
I pretty much have the plot when I begin to write but new elements can occur to me as I go and I can accommodate this in the OneNote notes and spread sheet before I start to pull the novel apart and potentially get lost.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters are either people I know, or are amalgamations of people I know, or are based on famous people, so I already know how they talk or act in certain situations. Often I choose them because they share the beliefs of the character or personify the traits of that character. They may also have been chosen because in real life they reacted in a certain way in a given situation or used a certain phase. Sometimes, the opposite happens, I include actual events, de-contextualized and reinterpreted, as plot points, complete with the original protagonists. In this respect I try to ensure that they are authentic and genuine because they are literally real people.
What advice would you give other writers?
Keep writing! Write everyday, edit yourself, but keep writing. Also, keep plotting. Never stop thinking about how you can make the story better, and don’t give up! Keep reading. You have to read in order to have the basic tools to write. Also, be disciplined and single minded. Don’t let anyone diminish your self belief or stand in your way. Remember, your friends and family don’t know you as a writer, and getting them to believe in you is the first suspension of disbelief you have to overcome.
But mainly I think it’s a case of plot, plot, plot, followed by write, write, write followed by revise, revise, revise. Then it’s a case of work like a dog to promote your book.
I also once heard that if you think that you have enough good ideas for three or four great novels, then what you probably have is enough ideas for one good one. That has stayed with me.
One last thing, don’t self censor yourself. Write with the safety catch off…
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I decided to self publish mainly for the control, both of my image and my output, and to be honest for the potentially better royalty rate. I had also become disillusioned with a traditional publishing route that seemed to shun newcomers unless you had an advocate on the inside. It seemed a case of who and not what you know, and the quality of your work was often secondary.
In the traditional route, there are too many people who have control over you – agents, publishers, editors and marketeers. I value being the one in control and writing what I want to – have to – write, without someone else dictating what is commercially viable. After all, how do you know whether a market exists without offering the product?
Of course, self publishing is not for the feint hearted. You have to do it all yourself. It’s not enough that you produce 70,000 compelling words, you then have to become an expert in cover design and typesetting. Then you have to become an expert marketer. Then you have to do all of the manual labour and heavy lifting yourself. Also, gaining traction and maintaining momentum is also hard when it’s all just you. You can’t rest and you’re often stretched in many different directions at once. Still, there’s plenty of advice out there. The indie author community is very generous when it comes to sharing its experiencing and giving away valuable advice.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think that if indie publishing is to thrive and prosper them something has to be done about the variable quality of output. The unacceptably poor quality of some releases is choking the output of the more professional authors, like weeds choking a fragile blossom. I’m getting tired of opening books, some with very professional and enticing covers, only to find that the writing is amateurish, unengaging, and most unforgivable, full of spelling and grammatical mistakes. All indie publishers are being tarnished with the same brush, and it is very hard for readers to trust indie authors and sift the wheat from the chaff.
There’s a saying that everyone has a novel in them, unfortunately, for most ‘authors’ that is exactly where it should have stayed! There needs to be some reliable method of ensuring quality control and I don’t think that leaving it to the market, and reader reviews, is reliable enough. My hope is that a few really trusted review websites will rise to prominence and the consumer will have a universally trusted source of quality measurement. Not that quality is always required to generate sales! But that’s a very different story, and I won’t name names…
Some really big hitters have chosen the indie route, mainly for the control and higher rewards. The hard part is for competent writers to break through all of that noise and find their audience. If good authors don’t find readers in sufficient numbers, then they will have no option but to revert back to the traditional publishing route, and that will significantly reduce the number of good writers who can publish their work, and we may find that some very fine authors just don’t have the drive and self-promotional tools to push their valuable work through the publisher’s filter. If that happens, then we’re all going to lose out.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Speculative, Science Fiction, Horror
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print