I’m extremely excited to start off my interview series with this wonderful interview. It’s hopefully going to be the first of many and will provide myself and readers with great insight into the minds of other writers and their processes.
Eden is an indie author who writes hard-boiled crime thrillers, and when she’s not writing she can be found running, learning about hacking or cooking her much loved vegan food.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
From a very early age! At primary school we had to write a weekly (probably very short) story and I noticed one of the other girls was using a well-known character (Rupert the Bear) in every single story she wrote. It had never occurred to me you could do this and I was hooked on the idea of creating a series. Of course, I had no clue at the time that what she was doing was writing fan fiction. Shortly afterwards I was sent to the headteacher’s office to collect a reward of some sweets for writing a poem about lions. It was one of my proudest moments and that’s when I knew.
What were your ambitions when you started writing? Have those ambitions changed over the process?
Always to have something to say. To make a point. For me social commentary is very important in writing. After all, writers are meant to be exploring the human condition. When I knew I absolutely wanted to be a professional writer then it was a case of being the best I could be so I was determined to learn the craft and techniques of writing to the best of my ability.
Are you writing anything at the moment? Could you give us a little insight?
I’m writing the second book in my series (GET9) about a vigilante private investigator who forces justice upon those who are above the law. As it’s early days in the series I’m attempting to cast my net wide to provide as many future possibilities for storylines as I can so I’ve moved beyond run-ins with the cops to bringing in various three-letter agencies. (It’s set Stateside). For the social commentary part, I’m fascinated with the people power provided by information technology and particularly with the idea of the hive mind and groups like Anonymous. Naturally the NSA are a good fit in all of this after the Snowden revelations. But even though my crime thrillers are quite heavy on plots with fast-paced twists and turns, these are always secondary to character. The series arc overall is really about the relationship between the protagonist and a man she works with because I’m really interested in exploring the different, non-traditional, relationships that are possible in our modern times.
Are there any quotes or mottos that inspire your writing career or
your life? Would you share it with us?
Quite possibly my favourite writing quote is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: ‘Fiction reveals truth that reality obscures.’ In general my favourite quote is from a Buddhist perspective: ‘Life is what you think.’
Where do you find inspiration for your novels?
Everywhere. From what’s going on in the world politically to the random quirky things I like or that I come across and find interesting.
Do you consider yourself more of a plotter or a pantser? Do you
outline thoroughly or see how it plays out?
I’ve tried both approaches and honestly think the best way is somewhere between the two. I like to have a general roadmap e.g. if I’m travelling from London to Manchester I know I’m going to be on the M6 at some point, but if I see an interesting sign along the way I’m okay with taking a detour to explore an A road. I normally know how a story is going to end, more or less. I’ve tried plotting everything out religiously and found it stifles creativity. I’ve tried writing into the dark and found with complex plots there’s still some stuff that I will need to work out. By having a broad outline which isn’t set in stone you have a rough framework which allows leaps into the unknown. With the latter, if you don’t know where the story or character is headed it makes it exciting, unexpected and fresh for both writer and reader.
How often do you write during a week?
That depends on my day job. From October to May my teaching work as a university lecturer keeps me really busy so, rather than writing every week, I tend to carve out blocks of time where I can really get my head down and then I don’t come up for air. In the summer when my main teaching is over, apart from the odd literary festival speaking gig or short private summer course, I’m pretty much on it every day all day when and where I can trying to meet my self-imposed target of one novel per year.
Do you have a set word count that you try to achieve each session?
I average about 1,000 to 1,500 good words per session. I’d never do less than 500 on principle. I’m just starting to experiment with dictation software so I can be outside getting some exercise rather than sitting down all the time. I’m finding it good for creativity and it seems to double output because once the daydreaming part is complete I can talk faster than I can write. The software then transcribes speech into text.
Do you have to do lots of research for your novels?
Yes absolutely. I write crime so there’s tons of procedural and legal stuff to think about and get right. Then my stories are set Stateside so there’s the setting and vocabulary to consider. Other things I research: hacking, weapons, martial arts and street fighting, recent conflicts (one of my characters is ex-military), and a lot of psychology.
What is the hardest thing about writing for you?
I think it’s probably the same for everybody. Writing is hard work. Some days it comes but more often it doesn’t and you have to almost will it into existence. Also, writing a novel is like telling the world’s biggest lie. It’s when you’re combing through your draft, especially with the kind of tight, precise storytelling thriller writing consists of, and you find plot holes that need fixing which invariably throw lots of other stuff out of kilter and it’s a case of cracking the puzzle of finding a solution that works.
Do you ever get writers block? How do you overcome it?
I get out of my own way. Writers block just means that something is not fully percolated in your mind yet. It needs more unconscious processing time. Also it means that you’re in the more logical side of your brain and you need to get into the intuitive mind again. Anything mindless is good where you can drift off such as washing up or taking a shower or walk. Sometimes I’ll just lie down for a nap and start daydreaming. Other times I’ll force myself to write anything, even lists, until something sparks and my imagination takes off again. Writers block is not a time to start surfing the internet!
What books are you reading at the moment? Do you have any favourites?
I tend to read a lot of non-fiction. I’m a real politics and economics geek so I’m currently reading PostCapitalism: A Guide to our Future by Paul Mason. I love anything by the American journalist, essayist and satirist Barrett Brown, who is currently writing from inside a prison cell after being incarcerated for his analysis of hacked emails and other leaked information concerning the inner workings of the cyber-military-industrial complex. He’s quite possibly the most intelligent, achingly funny and acute social commentator of our times. I’ve just finished a book about Sartre and Camus as I get a kick out of all things existential. My favourite fiction authors are Lee Child, Zoe Sharp and Barry Eisler and I’m always up to date with their latest works.
If you couldn’t be an author, what other career do you think you would
like to do?
I love catering, entertaining, organising events, feeding and looking after people. I’d love a writers’ retreat hotel plus beach bar somewhere with a warm climate.
Your book THE BREAKS looks like a very exciting read, where and how
did you come up with the story line?
The Breaks began as a result of a thesis I completed for a Masters in creative and critical writing. Literary critics had argued that a female PI couldn’t fulfil the conventions and maintain the tropes of the hard-boiled genre: a tough, cynical loner, ever more isolated from a corrupt society, unfettered by domesticity with a propensity for violence, who is unable to maintain satisfying love affairs. I begged to differ so set out to create a strong female protagonist, unlike those previously created who critics deemed to have failed in this regard, to prove my point.
In terms of traditional publishing vs self-publishing – which did you
choose and why?
I didn’t try to submit to traditional publishers nor to any agents although I’ve had agents contact me. I truly believe after all my research, that right now, it’s better to be an independent. Author earnings bear this out. The economic model for traditional publishing is broken currently. Unless a writer is desperate for some sense of kudos or external validation it makes no sense to go with the trade at this current time when independents make more money. You can see the data at authorearnings.com.
What sort of a routine do you have around your writing? Do you make
coffee every time? Or write stream of consciousness before starting a
Constant caffeine is good. I review the previous part, fiddle about tweaking it then carry on to the next part.
Do you have any advice to the aspiring writers reading this?
Write because you have to. Write because nothing makes you happier. Write because you have something to say. Chances are writing won’t make you rich.