Thursday, September 8, 2011

Blog Tour: Johnny O'Brien

To celebrate the release of the third of the time-travelling Jack Christie Adventures, Day of Vengeance, and a stunning new cover-look for the series, author Johnny O'Brien is stopping by today to talk about his writing process and research.

My reviews of:
Day of the Assassins
Day of Deliverance
Day of Vengeance (review coming soon)

Read more about the Jack Christie Adventures at the Templar website and on Facebook and follow the tour here.

Over to Johnny:

I write mainly at weekends, as I have a day job where I work for a range of sinister global corporations. We have an old higgledy-piggledy farmhouse with very low beams and the floor is uneven so I am usually writing at an angle – which probably explains a lot! The room I write in is cold in winter and cold in summer – but there are great views – including of a field outside with our eleven sheep – I wouldn’t say I draw inspiration from them – but it is strangely relaxing watching them.

When it comes to research, there is no beating visiting the real places – whether Hampton Court, King’s College Cambridge or the Eiffel Tower. In Day of Deliverance, Jack and Angus climb up one of the towers on the College and then hide in the gap above the fan vaulted ceiling and the roof – you wouldn’t know these little things unless you had been there or talked to people who know about it. Sometimes in research, however, you do have to resort to good old fashioned books. The next Jack Christie Adventure takes place in China and I have actually been to China but unfortunately so much has so profoundly changed that a lot has to be gleaned from books and this is really hard. I try and make things accurate, but sometimes things are just not known and so you just kind of have to make your best guess.

The next stage is actually putting pen to paper. I find that I write a structure which is maybe about ten pages long which sets out what happens in each of the chapters. By then though I find myself losing patience and I want to get on with it, so I usually start with a chapter that is easy and fun to write – like a good action scene. What I find though is that as you work through the book things change – sometimes quite profoundly and you just can’t work out every detail before you start. Also the act of actually writing stimulates new ideas and pathways which sometimes replace the original ideas. One problem with all this is the time travel theme which can introduce horrible logical dilemmas and structural issues which can mean you have to go back and start again. And of course that’s all before the editor gets hold of it!

If I am not in the mood to write, sometimes I will go through the previous chapter that I wrote and edit that and that kind of gets you into the swing of things and then I’m ready to break new ground. So I edit as I go along, but once finished, the book will need three or so full read throughs and edits by me before I submit it to the publisher. Even when I go back and read the finished books now there is stuff that I want to change – it’s all quite painful! I have to say though, a good editor is absolutely invaluable and you have to accept that once they get hold of the book, they will make suggested changes and there will be re-work. This can be a challenging process – but it invariably ends in a much better book.

Many thanks to Johnny and Templar for arranging this.

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