Today I’m pleased to welcome friend and horror writer, Nic Parker to the blog to talk about her first draft process.
Nic was born in 1971. Her love for the horror genre flourished in early childhood. She enjoyed the opulence of genre productions in the eighties, chasing after forbidden video nasties with friends, and reading mainly Clive Barker and Stephen King.
Since her twenties she’s had the pleasure of meeting and interviewing many household names from the horror genre in her role as a journalist for Moviestar magazine.
She is an avid book collector, passionate about art and likes to try out new recipes from her many cookbooks.
Parker lives in rural Germany with her husband and six cats.
‘Descent to Hell’ is the first part in the Hell trilogy with main character Charlie Ward.
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?
Normally, I chew the idea around a bit in my brain and when over the next days I see a whole book emerge I sit down and begin.
Do you have a set routine approaching it?
No, if I have free days I can get up in the morning and write for almost a full day for a few days, pausing only to get food and to go to the litter box. We’ve been busy with refurbishing the house lately and I am working part-time so usually I can steal away time to write on the couch in the evening, in the kitchen watching the cake, etc. I can even write waiting at the airport.
Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?
I kind of always want to make notes but have never come around to start doing this. I have the idea, sit down and start to write.
How important is research to you?
Very important. No matter what you write about, be it ingredients of a poison, a certain disease or weapons, places, etc. – research is important and information is often so easy to come by these days that there is no excuse not to check it out. That’s probably the journalist in me talking otherwise I’d feel like a crook. Having said that my research for Descent to Hell was probably five minutes, it’s so cool to discard any rules and make up your own when you write about a place like hell.
How do you go about researching?
I couldn’t be bothered to read ten books on the life of pilgrims in the 1780s in Poland or something, so I am trying to move around complicated backgrounds and write more about things and places I already know a bit about and research the rest online or try to find an expert who can enlighten me regarding a subject.
How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?
Hard drive No.1 aka computer, hard drive No.2 aka brain and my mobile phone
Tell us how that first draft takes shape?
I have most of the story outlined in my head and so I sit down and start bringing it onto the page chapter by chapter. If I am stuck I might leave it be for days or weeks. I can’t sit down each day breaking my brain to continue if I can’t think of anything and if I relax the answer to a dilemma usually comes to me in a matter of days.
Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?
I may get the occasional cup of coffee but other than that I just need my laptop and that’s basically it.
Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?
I’ve experienced total loss of time, I sit down to write at noon and in what seems as a matter of minutes the door opens and my husband comes home – almost six hours later, so I guess I get lost within the words while writing.
What does your workspace look like?
An antique-style broad desk with my laptop on it and more or less necessary dust gatherers. There is also a small blanket functioning as a cat trap, luring the cat(s) to snuggle on it rather than repeatedly walking over the keyboard.
Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?
First draft goes without any edits, except when I see misspellings.
I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?
Actually none. I sit down and write as long as ideas are pouring out. If I start staring at the screen I’ll stop.
So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?
Depending how much of the story has already developed in my mind and given I have the time and don’t have to work it can be done in a month or when life gets in the way it can take up to three months…
The shape is pretty much the final structure to which things are being added over time or also deleted. But the story itself and the characters usually remain.
In what format do you like to read it through, e-reader, paper or the computer screen?
Computer screen mostly.
What happens now that first draft is done?
If I’ve had additional ideas during writing I get right back to the beginning and start filling them in. Usually, though, I just leave it be for at least a week and try not to think about it and then ideas come sprouting all by their own. I try not to obsess about the manuscript, going at it like a terrier over and over again, but let it rest, editing it gradually.
Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.
Descent To Hell
A man forced to enter mankind’s most feared territory … a child dragged into the underworld!
When Charlie Ward’s beloved niece is kidnapped by an atrocious demon he has to find the secret gateway into the one place every human wants to stay away from: Hell!
Armed only with courage and determination Charlie has to survive in a forbidding place filled with despair and anguish. He must face challenges no mortal should ever have to undergo that threaten to destroy his very soul.