The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

3 Days Of Writing

Posted by BigWords on September 11, 2010

Yes, you read the title of the post correctly. This is my brilliant idea to get out of any future memes of similar construction, and I will continue in similar fashion for the next couple of posts. Three days, in and out.

1. Tell us about your favorite writing project/universe that you’ve worked with and why.

It is incredibly hard to pick just one of the sandboxes I play in as a favorite (and I guess this is the same for a lot of people), but if pressed on the issue I would fall back on Faerwither. Picking that is, of course, cheating. I’ve mentioned it a few times, though I have never really explained the name or the setting in enough detail to properly convey just how far off into fantasy it is – yet even describing it as a fantasy setting doesn’t convey what it truly is. The basic nature of the realm is a fluctuating physical, though roughly linear, state which exists just off from our reality. Characters are drawn into “the space between places” and remove themselves from it as needed, creating wrinkles in other stories and allowing them to interact in different eras.

Bellamy (from the spy story) spent time there before the beginning of that story – which explains why he is written as being much, much older than he is – and The Reverend from my western has existed there from around 1900 onwards. He’ll get out eventually. I’m not sure how, exactly, the epic-fantasy-novel-by-way-of-superhero-war fits in, though a bunch of characters (including Heracles and Erinyes) made their way to the present via Faerwither. It’s my version of the ultimate Deus Ex Machina, and I overuse it sometimes when I run out of reasons to viably keep a character alive past any sensible timeframe. This means that everything I’ve ever written is included due to the crossover nature of the location. Like I said, I cheated with the answer…

2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

There are thousands of characters. Literally. I have never sat down and counted them out (which seems an utterly insane prospect given that some of the characters have clones to add to the confusion), but I’m sure there would be in excess of two thousand. No, I’m not going to sit down and count them. On the gender breakdown I’m probably split roughly evenly, though I figure that on a story-to-story basis there are some that have many more males than females and vice versa. The Reverend is a very male-oriented story, while a silly airport-based side-scene/separate story from Ghost Bureau has an almost entirely female cast.

3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?

Names are easy for me, as they normally have extensive, though often obscure, references to real places and people.Bellamy, for example, is in deference to the maker of veal pies. Faerwither is named because it always rains there (and it is based upon the geography of the Downs), while the more mundane agencies involved in behind the scenes activities take their cue from old spy shows and movies. This happens a lot, with references to fictional companies turning up in slightly altered guises all the time. I dislike using existing companies as it seems too on the nose, so using obscure references to other books, films and television shows works better. I don’t have a lot of easy answers for this, and it would take a few blog posts worth of step-by-step explanations to show how I got from a reference to a homage to a joke, burying it under several layers of other, unconnected, references.

4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

Really? You honestly want to hear about that? Okay, so the first one I can remember was a big mash-up that consisted of a bunch of differently-sized characters wandering across a planet. That description makes it sound shit, but there is no way to make it even vaguely interesting or engaging given its’ origins – which, thankfully, I’m under no obligation to reveal again.

5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

Heracles may, possibly, be the oldest, though I’m not up to speed on the continuity of mythological beings. He may be older than Erinyes, and I know he’s got a few years on most of my other characters. The youngest is harder to answer. I use characters at different points in their lives for different stories, so at any one point in time I may be writing them then they are 8 and in their 60s in different stories. Best not to contemplate the problems that can lead to… There are also a couple of clones which complicate matters further.

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol’ pen and paper?

I’m happy with either the computer, the laptop or pen and paper. The funny thing with choosing the way I create the story is the ability to alter the feel of the prose. Pen and paper makes for very stark, minimalist material, while the stuff I’ve written on the laptop comes across as more active and rushed. The desktop computer manages to balance out a lot of the bad habits with much deeper research into the worlds I play in. Time of day also affects the words, with night being when everything seems to come together for me.

7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

Each character has their own playlists, while each universe has its own tone. I’ll probably expand on this at some point, but I have plans for this in relation to some of the more complex elements I’m playing with – again, it gets very complicated, very quickly.

8. What’s your favorite genre to write? To read?

Genre-blind, remember? I like anything which move outside of the comfortable, label-friendly genre constraints, so a horror-western, comedy-SF, or twisted political-fantasy would appeal more than something that doesn’t veer far from the mainstream. The well-worn paths are boring once the essential components have been read, and the best of the genres been understood and filed away for future reference.

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

I don’t create the characters. They’re there already, and I just find them. Mostly I find them doing things they shouldn’t be doing… They also tend to talk back to me.

10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

The weirdness factor is off the scale. Cursed gold, ghosts who solve crimes, the hunt for the charred bones of an angel (or alien posing as an angel) under a cathedral… The tightly-packed multiverse of characters and events seems to run on the weirdness sometimes, with pauses for random acts of violence. Here’s something else – I consider everything I’ve written (no matter how contradictory) to be canon. The fact that most of my characters exist in-between the things normal stories would focus on helps this, allowing for very strange things to seem almost workaday.

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