Today I have another first drafter on the blog. Please welcome Owen Mullen.
When he was ten, Owen Mullen won a short story competition and didn’t write anything else for almost forty years. In between he graduated from Strathclyde University with a Masters in Tourism and a degree in Marketing, moved to London and worked as a rock musician, session singer and songwriter, andhad a hit record in Japan with a band he refuses to name; on occasion he still performs. He returned to Scotland to run a management consultancy and a marketing agency. He is an Arsenal supporter and a serious foodie. A gregarious recluse, he and his wife, Christine, split their time between Glasgow – where the Charlie Cameron books are set – and their villa in the Greek Islands.
When you decide to write something new, what is the first thing you do?
I don’t actually make a decision to write. When an idea presents itself I toss it around until I get a beginning…from there I think about how I would like the story to end. At this point I begin the writing process.
Do you have a set routine approaching it?
Yes I do. I talk the idea over with my wife. Over many cups of coffee the fuller story begins to emerge.
Pen and paper or straight to the keyboard?
A mixture for me. I like to go straight in, I find this approach allows the story to emerge. And along the way lots of sub plot lines present themselves; but I always have pen and paper at my bedside.
How important is research to you?
Very important; because authenticity matters.
How do you go about researching?
With locations, I always visit them; often three or four times. Other sources include written material and online searches. But of course, people are the very best resource; for example I have a detective in Police Scotland CID who helps me to keep it real. I have many people sources who have specific expertise.
How do you store everything; ideas, research, images that catch your eye?
For every book I open a notebook file; everything goes in here.
Tell us how that first draft takes shape?
I am very disciplined; I write 5 hours every day. The day starts with writing, then my wife Christine edits and makes her suggestions whilst I go back over the ms polishing the language. Then I do the days edits and follow this up with a plotting session so that I am ready to start writing the following morning.
Are there any rituals you have to do or items you must have with you while writing that draft?
Apart from coffee, none.
Does the outside world exist or are you lost to us for a period of time as the magic works?
I do my best to stop the world, but it very rarely works out that way. I have developed a technique that allows me to dip in and out of reality with ease.
What does your workspace look like?
I’m very adaptable; sometimes I work in my studio and sometimes you will find me at the dining room table. It can get a bit cluttered. I don’t like to throw anything away till I have finished – then I am very Feng Shui, use it or lose it.
Edit as you go or just keep getting words out?
Constantly edit. It never ends. Once the book is finished I begin to edit it as a whole; this can run to 3, 4 or more edits.
I see many writers counting words in a day. Word counter or other method of keeping track of progression?
Word count; 1500 is my daily target. I find it a very encouraging device.
So, that first draft is down. Roughly how long did it take? And what shape is it in?
Somewhere around 10 to 12 weeks. As I mentioned above I edit on a daily basis, this takes a bit longer but I have a cleaner product than I would otherwise have.
In what format do you like to read it through, ereader, paper or the computer screen?
All 3 but for me a paper copy is the best to work with. Easier to check back/forward, and of course, all that scribbling notes is a must.
What happens now that first draft is done?
Well as I said before, now I will edit as a whole; in particular I am looking for flow – must have flow.
Thanks for digging into the depths of the first draft. It’s been a pleasure having you.
You can find Owen on Amazon UK | Amazon US | Facebook
Old Friends and New Enemies
An explosive new crime thriller
The body on the mortuary slab wasn’t who Glasgow PI Charlie Cameron was looking for.
But it wasn’t a stranger.
Suddenly, a routine missing persons investigation becomes a fight for survival. As Charlie is dragged deeper into Glasgow’s underbelly he goes up against notorious gangster Jimmy Rafferty and discovers what fear really is.
Rafferty is so ruthless even his own sons are terrified of him.
Now he wants Charlie to find something. And Jimmy Rafferty always gets what he wants.
There is only one problem… Charlie doesn’t know where it is.
Alex J. Cavanaugh says
Owen is very disciplined with his writing. Left it on the back burner all those years? That sounds familiar!
Margot Kinberg says
What an interesting background! And I agree completely about the importance of research. It really does make a story much more authentic. Always fascinating to learn from the way other authors go about it. Thanks, both!
Annalisa Crawford says
Wow, Owen is very disciplined and structured!
Marina Sofia says
I too am amazed at the structure and discipline. No-nonsense kind of guy.
Linda Boa says
This series is fantastic – I can see him becoming the next big “Tartan Noir” star. I’m just about to start no.3, and edit my review of no.2. He had a great supporting cast in the novels who really add to the story. And his wife sounds a superb asset – I think all writers could do with a “Christine”! A supportive partner is essential; one that can help is even better.