Some Questions & Answers



Q.  What’s easiest for you to write?  What is most difficult?

A.  Years ago, I would never have dreamed I’d say this, but the easiest thing for me to write now is dialogue.  For many years I struggled with writing ‘good’ or ‘realistic’ dialogue.  Then I realized I was trying too hard, staying too much in my head, like a musician who’s constantly thinking about whether he’s playing the right notes.  As soon as I got out of my head, and into my characters’, I found I was able to record the sound of their voices, like taking down dictation.

The most difficult writing for me is pure narrative description.  Once I get going, it’s fine, but I’m always terrified when I approach a narrative part.  I don’t want to ‘tell’ readers too much – I want to ‘show’ them, and help them feel a certain way about a place or a scene.  That means that the writing has to suggest more than it reveals.  I tend to write and rewrite narrative sections many times to get the right rhythm and choose words that leave an echo.


Q.  Do you ever write things that you decide not to use in the books?

A.  All the time!  In fact, something I plan to introduce here and elsewhere is ‘The Cutting Room Floor’, which could be anything from a paragraph to a chapter I wrote and then decided not to use in one of the books.  It’s not all great writing – some of it didn’t make the cut because it didn’t meet my standard – but some of it’s pretty darn good (if I do say so myself). But however good it might have been, it simply didn’t fit with how the story evolved.  

Sometimes a story will take a sharp turn on me, and all I can do is respond.  But that means that many, many thousands of words that I worked hard to string together cannot be used except for fun and as a glimpse inside the creative process.

Since The Unsealing (finally!) published on February 28, I’ve been very gratified by all of the attention it’s received from critics and readers alike. Thank you!


I’ve also received quite a number of questions submitted via my website and email, which I love getting!  

I really enjoy hearing from you and I’ll be happy to answer (mostly) anything you ask.  So today here are a few of the questions posed, along with my replies.  I’ll try to answer all of them in due course, but I try to keep my blog posts short, so it’ll be a few at a time.


Q.  Quite a bit of your book is written from a woman’s point of view.  You’re not a woman, so how do you manage to capture a woman’s point of view?

A.  That’s a good one.  I have a slightly peculiar view about that.  Genetically speaking, every human’s DNA is contributed 50% by the mother, and 50% by the father.  So while I may be a man (was last time I checked), genetically I’m half-woman.  My experience of life is not the same as a woman’s, of course, but at some deep level I believe that we can all access the ‘other’ half, if we are quiet and listen.  I would also add that I’m not ‘trying’ to write from a woman’s point of view.  Rather, I’m writing from a particular person’s (character’s) point of view, be it male or female, adult or child.  In doing so I am more like a Method Actor than anything else.  I try to imagine myself in that person’s skin, and then hope to do a convincing job of my portrayal.


Q.  Does it bother you when one of your characters dies?  How do you decide which ones to kill off?

A.  Yes indeed it does!  I love every one of my characters, warts and all.  And I don’t intentionally kill anyone off to advance a plot or to introduce drama or pathos.  If someone dies, it’s because that’s the way the story has to go -- and also because I’m not writing fantasy, where my favorite characters ascend into Heaven or can be transported magically out of danger.  My characters all follow the same rules of life & death that we all must.  Some live, some die, and as in real life there’s nothing ‘fair’ about who gets to do which one.


Thanks very much for the questions, and keep ‘em coming!  I hope those of you who asked them enjoy my answers.