Author Interview: Gareth Wood

Author Gareth Wood writes Science Fiction and Horror, and one day hopes to combine the two. “I have ideas all the time, and write them down so that I can re-examine them later. Hopefully one or two will become books.” We hope so too, Gareth. Welcome to No Wasted Ink.

Author Gareth WoodHi, I’m Gareth Wood. I’m a commercial electrician who works in the film and television industry. I was born in England but I live in Vancouver BC. I’m nearly fifty, I live with my wife and a pair of cats who remain convinced that we are purely there to serve them.

When and why did you begin writing?

My first short story that was anything other than a jumble of ideas was written when I was about ten years old. It was a class assignment in school, to write an original short story, and I loved it so much that I never stopped. What I wrote then was a short SF piece. My love of SF started with books I found in my school library, and an SF themed children’s magazine that my mother subscribed to.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

That would be 2004. I had written on and off for many years before that, but I first had something considered for publication then. That was when I gave serious thought to actually writing something with the idea of having it published. Before that, it had all just been for fun, my own amusement. Now with four books published, and a fifth and sixth coming, I think I can safely call myself a writer.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

My latest published work is Black Horizon, the first of a trilogy. It is an SF tale about a clash of cultures, set 350 years after an apocalyptic war on Earth. Several astronauts return to Earth to find it drastically changed. I’m writing the follow-up book, The Serpent Sun, which introduces an advanced culture that spans a vast amount of territory, and also expands on the events taking place on and around Earth.

What inspired you to write this book?

I had recently re-read some books set on an post-apocalyptic Earth far in the future and was inspired by the idea that the world could change quite drastically in a short time. I had always wanted to return to SF, ever since that first short story so long ago. The title of the book and a scene associated with it came to me, and I went from there. Further inspiration came from some of the more realistic SF movies I’ve seen recently, as well as some old westerns. Black Horizon was once described by a reader as Zane Grey meets Heinlein.

Do you have a specific writing style?

Evolving. I feel I am getting better as a writer from book to book. It’s a skill like any other. Looking back I can see differences between what I wrote in my first book and my third and fourth, and now my fifth. I can say that a reader might be better able to describe my style than I could. Also, I try to write by hand for first drafts and then transfer my notes to the computer for the second. I find this works better for me since a lot of my time to write is when I’m away from my computer.

How did you come up with the title of this book?

I had a scene in my mind, playing out like a movie. I could see the characters involved and the environment they were interacting with, and the name of the book sprang from that. That seems to be the way I get my titles. Likewise, the name of the next book, The Serpent Sun, is a visual descriptive of a specific scene in that book. I see the scenes much like films playing in my mind.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Not particularly. I write adventures, so maybe ‘enjoy the ride’ is the message?

Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?

Not at all. Before Black Horizon I wrote zombie apocalypse fiction, which I would not hope to be real in any way. For the books I write now, which are slightly hard SF, I’m making a lot of it up as I go, and it has no basis in my reality. Though if it did, that would be interesting. I think I’ve created a world of great hope and potential in Black Horizon, even if it is steeped in conflict

What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?

Andre Norton, whom I read early in life and still do. Anne McCaffery, who wrote some incredible science fantasy tales. Arthur C Clarke, whose hard SF books made me see the beauty of science. Iain M Banks, who was the kind of author I aspire to become. Stephen King, who scared me. Dan Simmons, for writing some of the most elegant prose about transhumanism. Craig DiLouie, for showing how to write a great action story. And of course Sterling Lanier, whose Hiero books inspired me from the very beginning.

If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?

Ah, that’s a hard one. If I could choose? Whom I most want to be like, and whose style I aspire to? Iain M Banks. The Culture books were awe-inspiring. His style and descriptive abilities were second-to-none. I think I would be quite happy to one day reach that level.

Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?

Loraine Van Tonder. My publisher selected her, and I’m glad they did. I wouldn’t have known where to start, and she did an excellent job with Black Horizon, and I can’t wait to see what she comes up with for The Serpent Sun.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Write when and where you can. It’s tough these days juggling the writing impulse with working and living our regular lives. I manage to write by having notebooks that I carry around, or by using a writing app on my phone. It’s not always possible to write every day, but don’t worry about that. Write when you can, where you can, and as much as you feel able to. If that’s ten words or ten thousand, it’s correct.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you for allowing me to entertain you.

Black Horizon Book CoverGareth Wood
Vancouver, BC, Canada

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Black Horizon

Cover Artist: Loraine Van Tonder
Publisher: Burning Willow Press

AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

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Welcome back to No Wasted Ink this fine Monday.  I have ten new writerly articles for you to enjoy this week.  There are general writing tips, writing lifestyle and a few research articles on topics science fiction and fantasy authors will be sure to find useful.

7 Literary Mashups We Need Somebody to Write Right Now

How to Schedule Time for an Imaginative Process, Rather Than an Exact Task

TIME TRAVEL IN FANTASY: MORE COMMON THAN YOU’D THINK

Writing a Novel in First Person

How to Write About Biomedical Researchers

The Words That Changed Your Life: Discovering What Made You a Writer

Avoiding Burnout With Strategic Breaks

Structure Matters: Building Great Stories to Endure the Ages

Harness Your Creative Momentum

How to End Writing Interruptions

Happy Valentine’s Day from No Wasted Ink

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This Victorian postcard serves as my valentine card to you all. Happy Valentine’s Day.  I appreciate each and every one of you readers that stop by my blog and read my stories and poems.

The poem below is not one of mine, it is from the Victorian era, “Forget me Not”.

Forget me not
No other heart
Can ever be more true than mine
Though many loving friends surround
Thy sunny path, my Valentine

No Wasted Ink Writer’s Links

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Monday is my favorite day because of Writer Links.  There is a great deal of information available to help us become better writers and that I appreciate that I live in an age where knowledge is easily obtained.  Wisdom is a little harder to see, but we keep trying. Enjoy this week’s offerings.  Let me know which article is your favorite!

5 Things to Consider Before Writing

A Sci-Fi Dragon Dystopia à la Jane Austen

Why Your Friend with a Creative Job Isn’t the Village Idiot

URSULA K. LE GUIN – IN MEMORIAM

Writing a Novel With Too Many Options

Nuclear Radiation for Writers

How PLR works and why it’s important

4 Ways for Writers to Become Better Readers

The Memoir: Why YOUR Story is Better than Snookie’s

How To Write Characters With PTSD

Lit Up OC: Author Open Mic

Kean Coffee Tustin 2
Kean Coffee in Tustin, CA

I drove down the country road with anticipation, a small box of my books in the trunk of my vehicle and wearing comfortable, but nice clothing. I did my best to quell my nerves and remind myself that I’ve done this before, but it had been almost a year since I last performed an author reading in public. I felt that I might be rusty. This was no ordinary author series either. It was Lit Up OC, the series attached to my local writing guild and most of my writer friends attend it. Would I lose my voice? Would I blank out when my friends grilled me with writing questions that would go far beyond a typical layperson? Of the three authors reading, which one would I be? First? Last? I wasn’t sure.

What is Lit Up OC

I stumbled upon Lit Up OC around two years ago. It is a monthly reading series in Southern California located at Keans Coffee in Tustin. Local writers hang out with their coffee and tea while three authors read excerpts from their novels or a short story. Represented genre include mysteries, thrillers, science fiction, fantasy, literary, memoir, you name it. You never know what is coming next. There are many events like this in nearby Los Angeles, but Lit Up OC is the only reading series I know of in Orange County. Our host, Madeline Tighe Margarita is the creator and organizer of the event. She handles the author introductions. Asks questions of the audience afterward about what they heard and what their impressions were in critique style. Then moderates a general question and answer session between the author and audience.

What I Read

Murder They Wrote Book Cover (blog)In December of 2017, I had a story included in a horror anthology called “Murder They Wrote” put out by Serial Sikk Publishing. The theme of the collection was speculative fiction that included a murder. My story, “We Can Rebuild Him” began as a writing prompt from an online science fiction writing club. The prompt was to write a story about a cyborg. I combined the prompt with the feelings I felt when watching the Kevin Bacon movie “Taking Chance”. It features an American escort officer returning the body of a soldier to his family. I combined this with ideas about cyborgs that I had gleaned from panels at science fiction conventions. The result was psychologically dark and although it was not technically about murder, it fits with the bloody theme of the anthology.

I read the entire story to the audience. My goal was not to sell books per se, it was for me to get out and perform a reading for the first time in almost a year. I practiced all week. Developing different inflections for the characters. Where to put in pauses for emphasis. Making sure that all technical terms flowed with proper pronunciations. Everything that I could do to make a good first impression of my writing to my peers.

What Questions Were Asked

Wendy Reads at Lit Up OC - Jan 2018
Wendy Van Camp Reads at Lit Up OC

After the reading, Maddie conducts a question and answer session. The first part of the session she asks the audience about what they heard during the reading and their thoughts about it. Considering most of the audience are authors, some with multiple books, the comments can be extremely technical and difficult to answer on the fly. I prepared to answer typical questions at the reading. The inspiration for the story. My writing voice. Experiences on the science fiction convention circuit. What national author guilds I belong to and why. The audience asked all that and more.

I’m told that I appeared articulate and that my reading was entertaining, even with the dark subject matter. Many were surprised that I had written a story in the horror genre.

I feel that “We Can Rebuild Him” is a good story to perform and I plan on using it as my main piece at the various readings I will do at conventions this year. While I don’t write dark, horror pieces as a general rule, it still showcases my current skill level as an author. If you are planning on attending WorldCon, you will hear me read this story at the Broad Universe Rapid Fire Reading.

Kean Coffee Reading Audience 2
Lit Up OC Audience

Why Do Readings?

Many writers are introverts who feel anxiety standing up in front of people. I can sympathize with that. When I was a beginning teacher, standing in front of 30 teenagers and trying to convey English, History or Math to them, I felt challenged. Over time, I learned to be more comfortable in front of a classroom and to speak in a manner that is engaging enough to hold the attention of teenagers. If you can do that, you can speak to anyone! An easier way to learn this skill is to join the Toastmasters in your local area. There will be fewer spitballs on your back that way!

As an author, I like to find opportunities to be in front of potential readers and give them a sample of my work. This is why I attend book fairs, do readings at science fiction conventions, and read at local salons. When you get a chance to meet readers in person, you learn things about your own work or help you match the expectations of your target audience. While these events provide me with a place to do sales of my books, that is not my main focus. I am there to make an impression on readers in the hope that they will remember me later when looking for a new author to read. Not to mention, have a good time.

Final Word

Wendy Van Camp and Maddie at Lit Up OC
Host Maddie Margarita and Author Wendy Van Camp

Being the first to read, I was able to relax and enjoy the other two writers that night.  Both were accomplished authors and I enjoyed hearing their work. Afterward, I met people that came to hear me and to purchase signed books. I’m glad that I finally gave in to Maddie’s offer to read at Lit Up OC. It was a great experience and I hope to be back again once I complete my science fiction novel. However, I will be grateful that the next time I’m at the event, I will be in the audience posing “difficult” questions to the next set of authors!

 

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