I had the pleasure of speaking to Yorkshire-born author Martyn Taylor about his writing process.
Born in Yorkshire, Taylor now resides in Rotherham, in a quirky house with a lot of stairs and an enormous amount of books. He started writing more years ago than he wants to remember, working first in longhand, then a typewriter, before moving on to an old laptop. In August 2002, he resolved to write a novel, and after only twelve weeks, a hundred thousand word novel came to life: Iceline, a thriller about abduction, smuggling, and dodgy diving in Western Scotland.
Smuggling, skulduggery and scuba diving in Scotland. Steel disappeared and turned up weeks later bruised, bloody and alive, dumped high in the mountains. Relief is mixed with anger, confusion and a determination to uncover what he had stumbled upon. He had crossed a line, not his own, this time the line was his, and he was ready for whatever stepped over it.
Taylor also enjoys films with a good story, including Matrix, Inception, Sanctum, and V for Vendetta.
And it is stories that inspire him.
Stories inspire me, reading and hearing, telling and watching them as movies. They were part of growing up, whatever the genre, fact or fiction they are there to be explored and enjoyed. Everything tells a story of some description, embellished as fiction or catalogued as fact, to dig into and sift for the jewels inside. Storytelling is an intrinsic part of who we are and I wanted to be part of that creative tradition.
His ideas come from life, experience, and imaginative speculation.
The material is out there waiting to be collected, shuffled around and juggled with. Take a real life scenario and look at it from a different angle, ask yourself “What if…?”, perhaps from the viewpoint of a minor character, and re-tell the story. The focus has shifted and essentially the same generates a completely new story. Look beyond the obvious, there’s another angle that will catch your imagination, play with it and see where it takes you, The Obedience of Fools is based on an urban myth from the height of the Cold War in the 1960s with a twist in the tale.
His advice to aspiring writers is to just give it the best shot you can.
It will mean less work later on, get into the habit of raising the bar on your work. Demand more of yourself, and delivering it will bolster your confidence.
He also recommends trying NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month).
Take it seriously or just enjoy it. Many writers have very widely differing views on the value of the whole idea, even to whether it has any value at all. I really get into the challenge of fifty thousand words in thirty days, the constant nag of the daily word count (about 1670 words a day) and the rapidly approaching deadline gives me a real kick. The pace stops me over-thinking the action and gives the characters their freedom, and some of them will really enjoy it. I’ve been surprised by how things have developed, seeing unexpected twists and turns in the plot.
Publishing, Taylor warns, has sharks just like anything else. If an offer is too good to be true, it probably is.
Check the blogs and social networks of writers and authors, and special interest forums to see who and what they are talking about and who they have published with, and why they may have chosen to self-publish. After months of proofing the text, editing the plot and purging the typos this is not the moment to throw caution to the wind and jump on the first wagon to roll along. Take your time, do your homework; your next move could be the most important one yet.
Taylor is currently working on two novels, both of which were kick-started by NaNoWriMo.
The Obedience of Fools (2013) and Gone to Earth (2014), are more novels in the Grange series, four and five respectively. The second novel in the series; Control Escape is being edited and proofed again. This is a final polish, based on feedback from a review on Smashwords. (Gone to Earth takes that story further).
He has no book tour planned, as he’s spending time writing and editing.
All the Grange stories are currently available as e-books through Smashwords and their distribution channels. Iceline, the first book in the series is moving towards a print copy. I still have quite a bit of work to do yet, so unfortunately no date for availability as yet.
He’s currently rereading an old favourite, The Thirty-Nine Steps by John Buchan, as well as occasionally dipping into a study of modern urban legends; The Choking Doberman and other ‘new’ urban legends by Jan Harold Brunvand.
To find out more about Taylor, visit his Smashwords profile, or follow him on Twitter: @Martynseagull.