Monday, February 15, 2016

Inside the Writer's Mind with Graeme Reynolds

In this week's installment of Inside the Writer's Mind, we go all the way to England to have a chit chat with one of my favorite authors, that can always deliver an engrossing read, and who wrote the highly addictive High Moor series, Graeme Reynolds.

Graeme Reynolds has been called many things over the years, most of which are unprintable. By day, he breaks computer programs for a living, but when the sun goes down he hunches over a laptop and thinks of new and interesting ways to offend people with delicate sensibilities. He lives somewhere in England with a random cat that seems to have decided to move in with him.

You can follow Graeme via social media:
You can purchase Graeme's High Moor Series: 

Want to see more books published under Horrific Tales Publishing? Check them out Amazon. I recommend reading these. I've read quite a few of stories published under Horrific Tales Publishing and I've yet to be disappointed.

SDB: Writing can be a daunting prospect, what made you decide to share your story with the world?
GR: Well, initially it was the prospects of all that fortune and fame. Then, when it became apparent that wasn’t going to happen any time soon, what drove me on was getting a reaction from people who had read and enjoyed my work. I’d wanted to write for as long as I could remember, but it wasn’t really until I broke free of a serious World of Warcraft addiction that I turned my focus to something a little more constructive. The rush I got when my first story was accepted for publication – and even better, the comments that readers gave me when they read it – really spurred me on. That feeling is like nothing else in the world and it’s that more than anything that pushes me forward now.

SDB: Who has influenced you as an author?
GR: I have so many that it’s almost impossible to list them all. Stephen King taught me both how it was possible to write realistic, engaging characters and how you can murder the pace of a story by going overboard with descriptions. I have a love of Fantasy and Sci Fi as well as horror, so really learned how to do complex, multiple character arcs that wove and intersected from brilliant authors such as Julian May, Raymond Feist and Harry Turtledove. Whitley Streiber’s The Wolfen scared the absolute hell out of me when I was younger and showed me that often good and evil is simply a matter of perspective. I’m a voracious reader and am constantly learning from other authors and trying to improve my craft. I would list authors like Robert McCammon, Brian Keene, Clive Barker, Terry Pratchett and David Gemmell as all having contributed a little bit to my writing style, although I think my voice is very much my own these days.
SDB: What is your writing method? Do you outline first or do you purge your brain on paper until your story is told?
GR: I am what I like to call a semi structured pantser. I tried to plot the first High Moor novel out in detail and that was great until about two or three chapters in when the characters went off and did their own thing, which meant that I had to scrub my carefully plotted chapter plans and do them over again. Then a few chapters later they did it again, and again and again. I tried to constrain the bastards and force them to do what they were told and I ended up with a savage case of writers block. In the end I learned the best way for me to write is to have a rough framework to aim for (but not set in stone) – sometimes this will be a specific scene I have in mind or something as basic as “every five chapters a werewolf shows up”. I use a tool called yWriter to do the outline plotting but then just get out of the way and let the characters do their thing. I might nudge them in a certain direction every once in a while by throwing obstacles in their path, but the decision to take that path always comes from them – which is a very strange thing to say but it’s true. After a few chapters my characters are living entities in their own right and usually do whatever they damn well please. It’s usually best to let them get on with it.

SDB: How long does it take you to write your story, from getting it down on paper to publishing?
GR: Bloody ages. I am not the world’s fastest writer. This is partly because I do a ton of research and partly because I procrastinate horribly. There are days when pretty much anything at all is preferable to writing. Those days I tend to get a lot of housework done. Then there are other times when the words flow and I can churn out chapters – as if I am simply writing down what’s playing on the movie screen in my mind. I’m most effective when I can set a schedule for my writing and then sit my arse down in a chair for an hour or two every night and force myself to do it. With a full time day job, plus other responsibilities and the fact that some nights I am just frazzled by the time I drag my carcass in from the office, it can be harder to do than I would like. So far it’s taken me just over a year to write each book I have put out. However a massive chunk of that time has been taken up by me doing no writing whatsoever. I could probably get a book every 4-6 months done if I was a bit more disciplined and organised. Maybe I’ll get it together for the next one.

SDB: Can you tell me a little bit about your book(s) without giving away too much? Why should I read it?
GR: When I wrote the High Moor series I wanted to create the sort of werewolf series that I wanted to read myself, because at the time the market was flooded with paranormal romance novels. I’ve come up with a mythology that explains the difference between the wolf man bipedal werewolf and the quadruped huge wolf variety. The first novel is a coming of age story, set amidst the urban decay of 1980’s Northern England – think Stand by Me but with werewolves. The second book follows on directly from the first and is really designed around the format of a high octane chase thriller. The third book really throws everything open and widens the scope into a global conflict.

If you like your horror to be character driven, fast paced, compelling, sprinkled with dark humour and appallingly violent in places, then the High Moor series will be right up your street.

SDB: How much of yourself is in your character(s)?
GR: It’s quite difficult to articulate that one because, while the characters all came from me, none of them are really like me. There are elements of John that are very much me, but the core personalities are quite different. The same goes for Michael and Steven. Marie is a very different story. I don’t know how the hell she sprang from my mind or where she came from, but she’s a force of nature and was the character most likely to throw a chapter plan into utter chaos. And she is by far my favourite character. She is the most fun (and the most frustrating) to write and seems to be a firm favourite with a lot of my readers. But I would honestly struggle to think of too many character traits I have in common with her. And don’t get me started on Connie from High Moor 2 – she may very well be my greatest creation. I can empathise with her to an extent but I hope to hell she’s not still living in my skull somewhere :)

SDB: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
GR: Don’t rush into things. It takes time to learn your craft and find your voice. I started the first High Moor book back in 2008 and after two chapters realised that what I was writing was awful, so I shelved it and started writing little 1000 word flash fiction stories. Not only did I get to hone my writing skills but I could try different things out and it taught me to write concisely. Even now I tend to write in 1000 word or so scenes, with three or four of those to a chapter. It’s an invaluable learning experience and after a while your confidence and ability will grow, plus you will start to develop your own style rather than producing things that are derivative of other writers. Read as much as you can and if you hit a book or chapter that really manages to get an emotional response out of you then go back and look at why that happened, then see if you can break it down to the bare bones and recreate the same emotional response in a different piece of work. And never give up.
SDB: Is there anything else that you'd like to share?
GR: As well as being an author I run a small press called Horrific Tales Publishing. I spend an awful lot of time and money on this press and it's very much a labour of love. I only publish novels that I absolutely adore and so if you do decide to pick up one of my books and like it, then check out the presses other titles. There are some incredible books in our range and, like I say, I won’t put months of my time and thousands of pounds of my money into a book that I am not utterly in love with.

And if you do feel like picking up the High Moor series I can heartily recommend the audiobook versions, narrated by the incredibly talented Chris Barnes. He doesn’t just read the books – he gives a performance. He really brings the books to life in a way I never thought possible.
Thanks for having me, Di.

Definitely look into Greame Reynold's books, and the books under his publishing house, Horrific Tales Publishing. If you love horror, these books won't disappoint.

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