Two items of Q&A – with one ‘A’ from me and one, I hope, from you…! ;)

The first is something I was asked this week via the MySpace page of Jagmat from The Black Tattoo. Huge respect and kudos – partly just for not letting the whole shapeshifting blancmange monster thing put him off! – to Mykell, from Maryland, USA, who wondered:

What kind of research do u do when u are writing ur books?

Research… hmm. If you’re talking about facts and figures, details of setting and time and place and action… it depends.

I think details are important, especially in a fantasy story: they give the reader something to hang onto; they make things seem real. For instance, I got the fight scenes in Black Tat checked out by genuine martial artists. While I was writing the book, I met a lady at a party who turned out to be the ranking Number 3 North European Women’s Sabre Champion! She was wonderfully sporting about reading Black Tat’s swordfights for me: I got these excellent emails from her saying, ‘Well, ok: if I was fighting a thirty-foot-long hedgehog centipede beast, I suppose I’d start off on the back foot, with this sort of a grip…’ and off she went. I hope those kinds of details give some realistic weight and crunch to Black Tat’s fights. And if a story needs other kinds of information, I’ll find out everything I can.

But here’s the thing: that stuff should only ever be in service to the story. The story comes first. Because no amount of detail is going to make the readers care if they’re not involved in the scene, feeling for the characters, wondering what’s going to happen next.

The story is the hard bit – the main thing to focus on – it seems to me.

…Which brings me to my second question.


Slice Three of JETHRO’S ACE OF HEARTS, the thirteen-part story I’m currently serializing on Trapped By Monsters, goes live for your delectation tomorrow (Friday 6th Nov ’09) at 12 noon GMT.

My current plan is to have Slice Four go up this Monday, Slice Five go up next Friday, and so on. But a couple of my fellow TBM prisoners think I should go up to three episodes a week – posting on Wednesdays, too.

You, reading this: Hello! What do you think?

I think savouring the story slowly would be best – three slices a week might dominate the blog, and the story would finish very quickly. Or am I just being mean and stingy?

Leave a comment on Trapped By Monsters either way: I’m all ears.


Comments? Suggestions? Questions? Me and THE WEBSPHINX would love to hear from you! Drop us a line at the Tim, Defender of the Earth Guestbook for current or Tim stuff, or The Black Tattoo Guestbook for Black Tat stuff. First (or demon-!) names only, please. 😉