Saturday, 6 September 2014

Sheffield Film and Comic Con: Some FAQs


Do something every day that scares you…

I reckon attending a comic con as a scifi writer is one of the most terrifying things you can do. I want to sit under a tree and write, or throw a blanket over my head and write, or sit on the stairs and write… anything other than being with real people.
But… and it’s a big but (ha!), after being thrown into the deep end thanks to the combined and wonderful connivings of my other half with Andy and Steve of Scifi Scarbs, I’ve found that I love comic cons! For a pure introvert, it’s exhausting but it’s wonderful and as a writer, it’s amazing to meet people who want to read your books or even people who have already read your books and want to talk about them.
So, if you’re a reader, here are my answers to some of the most common questions I’ve come across at comic cons, or if you’re a scifi writer thinking about going to a comic con, here’s a glimpse into what to expect.

The question: What’s it all about?
It’s terrifying to stand behind a table laden with your books, hoping someone will stop by and talk to you, and then when they do, they ask, “So what’s it all about then?”
They’ve probably read the blurb on the back of each book and scanned over the snatch quotes you’ve printed off from your Amazon and Goodreads reviews, but they want to hear, first hand, from you, what it’s all about. That’s when it’s really fun to talk about your books.

My answer: My Thieves’ Guild universe is set in a far-flung future where the Earth Empire is stagnating and the biggest corporate-run colonies have formed a coalition. In the Between is a neutral zone, where the colonised planets are a law unto themselves. There are constant rumblings of war. The guilds are neutral and cross the line between the two power bases. My stories are told from the point of view of Thieves’ Guild field operatives. They’re the guys on the ground who are used to working in the shadows, invisible, but they are thrown into the spotlight and find themselves being chased by assassins and bounty hunters. Throw in pirates and aliens, political intrigue, war and betrayals, and there you have my books!
I don’t get caught up with long drawn out descriptions and I don’t get into big in-depth analyses of technology. It’s not hard science science fiction, it’s fast-paced action adventure scifi. If you like that, then give it a go – book one is free in eBook!

How many main characters do you have?
Aha. All you can do here is be honest. Know your point of view. Different people like reading different styles so be honest about how your books are written. I hate reading books where there are so many ‘main’ characters that you’re switching point of view every couple of pages, or even worse, within a paragraph. If I like a main character, I like to stay with that guy throughout the whole book… so that’s how I write.

My answer: There is one main character in each book. Hil in the first, LC in the second and NG in the third. The books follow one big story, each told from a different point of view character but I write in close third person – you stay with the main character for the whole book. That gives me problems as a writer. There’s no switching scenes to see what the bad guys are doing. But it means that you stay with that character through thick and thin. I love my main characters and I love being with them while I throw them into pickle after pickle.
I’ve been writing about these characters for twenty odd years. I have loads of first person stories written as NG. He was always mischievous, always fun and always difficult. I always thought that LC was my real ‘main’ character. He’s the one the stories centre around. He was supposed to make an appearance in book one but when it came to it, I was too intimidated by him to write him in. It took a lot to start writing book two. Hil is the one character who turned up most recently, who took me by the scruff of the neck and said, write this. And that’s what turned into book one.

Is it a trilogy?
You never know what the ‘right’ answer is when someone stands across the table and asks this. Some people love series, the more books the better. They love thinking that it will never end and they love waiting for the next instalment, however infuriating that may be. Other people hate having to wait. They like to know that a book is a one off. Or they want a trilogy where they know that the story will be wrapped up nice and neatly in book three. Again, be honest. Your books are what they are. Mine…?

My answer: No. It’s a series. The end of book three left me feeling like I was standing on an edge looking into an abyss. I was bereft for weeks. But then I started on book four and I’m giving NG a hard time again so all is well…!