Friday 30 June 2023

Hornsea Writer, Stuart Aken, On Writing

Give me a 3-word summary of what you will be doing, writing-wise, in the coming year.

Creating new fiction.

Tell me more

Currently, the envisaged novel is forming within my skull, as the idea forms into something that may become publishable. As a pantster, I never plot. My created characters are people I come to know and love, mostly. Once those relationships have matured, I set the players in a location relevant to the story and allow them to determine the route they will take to arrive at my predetermined destination. I know what themes I want to explore. I carry in my grey matter the fragile scaffolding on which the story will be built. But all my writing, regardless of what else the story says, is about relationships. And the way I deal with those is by wearing my characters’ skins, moving in their shoes, encountering their doubts, fears, and hopes, and attempting their ambitions.

The new novel is partly inspired by Yann Martel’s extraordinary work, ‘Self’. For now, I’ll say no more on that.  

Tell me about a writing-related event from last year

Resting from the all-consuming demands of imagined scenarios, I spent last year writing for Medium. Eighteen stories in total, on a variety of topics from dogs through taxes and beaches, to walks in foreign climes encouraged me to share my thoughts. Most of these are accompanied by photographs I’ve taken (I was once a full time professional photographer, and now continue the art in a semi-professional way.) You’ll find one piece that illustrates my two creative loves here. There will be more short articles this year. You’ll find them here.

Writing the odd factual piece is useful for an author of fiction, as it increases the writer’s knowledge of the real world, which can then inform whatever stories are subsequently written. Not all fiction is reliant on research, but by far the vast majority is. We spend a great deal of time discovering facts to lend validity and truth to the products of our imagination. Last year, I spent a good deal of time resting my creative drive and encouraging the restorative effects of enjoyment of life. I also read a lot of factual books, including some basic research for the next novel. That task will continue this year, even as I begin to write the new book. It’s an ongoing process for most of us. Without deep research from the author, many works of fiction would fail to convince the average reader of their veracity.

Learn more about Stuart here.

Friday 9 June 2023

How a lifetime interest in the Tudors led to a fantasy series

When I was 14, I read Margaret Campbell Barnes’ “Murder Most Foul” about Anne Boleyn. I became so fascinated about her, I then read anything our village library had about her - not much - and ravaged the school library, too. 

When I was in my early 20s, my parents went to Warwick Castle, where Holbein’s pencil drawing of Anne was on display. My father was not given to flights of fancy, but said ‘That looks like our April’. When I got married and had an ‘Anne Boleyn beaded head-dress', then saw the photos, the pencil sketch did look a bit like me. 

So it was no surprise that years later, I decided to write a historical fantasy crime novel, set in a world where Anne was not executed but carried her 1534 pregnancy to term.  I then decided to go the whole hog and put a bit of magic in it, and Luke Ballard, elemancer, was born. It wasn’t until I visited Hampton Court Palace - on my wish list for over 30 years - that Luke found his home in the Outer Green apothecary shop.

The amount of intrigue flying around the court in the last days of Henry VIII’s life was the perfect setting for what would become the first book in the series. Needless to say, Anne Boleyn plays an important part in the plot. 

Thus, “Dangers of Destiny” was born.

You can  find out more about it here on my blog:  

Dangers of Destiny is free to read on Kindle Unlimited, or £3.99 from Amazon.
You can find it here:

You can read more about April Taylor here:

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