A Belated ‘Merry Christmas’ and an early ‘Happy New Year’!

MerryChristmasandaHappyNewYear, guys! Today’s blog post will be a post in three acts, courtesy of my insanely rushed-and-jumbled Christmas season.

Part One: Merry Christmas!

And if you’re Jewish, Happy Hanukkah! For anything else, I offer a blanket “Happy Holidays!” in my ignorance, with my good wishes.

This year was a pretty quiet Christmas, low key and enjoyable. Cheesecakes were made. Food was scoffed. Presents were given. Little sis’ fiance has been visiting, which is lovely, and although the part-time job was more than usually insane, I was able to recuperate with three days off.

The Dad, modelling his new bow tie, spots a camera.

Best of all, I managed to get a couple of reasonably decent pics of The Dad, which is nearly impossible given his penchant for pulling faces and weird poses whenever a camera appears.

Literally one second after the camera is spotted…

Part Two: Happy New Year!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Orright, orright, I know it’s early, but I want to discuss New Year’s resolutions. More specifically, I want to discuss my New Year’s resolutions.

I’ve not been as prolific toward the end of 2016 as I was hoping to be. There were a range of different reasons, some of which I’ll discuss in my next blog post, but the upshot of it all is that:

1) the publication date for BLACKFOOT (the 2nd Two Monarchies Novel) has been pushed to late February 2017 instead of December 2016 (bright side–got a blurb sorta finalised!)

2) the publication date for BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU has been pushed from early January 2017 to (hopefully) late January 2017

3) early 2017 is gonna be a VERY busy time for me

My New Year’s resolutions, therefore, are as follows:

1) publish BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU no later than early February

2) finish BLACKFOOT by mid-January and publish it late February

3) publish the COMPLETE SHARDS OF A BROKEN SWORD TRILOGY in paperback and ebook January 31st

4) write the 2nd TIME-TRAVELLER’S BEST FRIEND novella in February

5) get started on the 3rd Two Monarchies novel in March

6) write, write, write…

There’s more, but they get kinda repetitive after a while, so I’ll let #6 stand in for the rest of ’em.

Part Three: The Search for a New Title

I’ve loved writing BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU. Getting it ready for publication…not so much. Reason being, when I first used excerpts from The Monkees songs as chapter headings, I had no idea I’d have to seek licensing to use said excerpts. I thought that a couple words from a song didn’t fall under copyright laws.

I was wrong.

It took ages to find the holders of the copyright. It took even longer to send off requests and wait for the answers.

And when the answers came back, they weren’t good.

I could use the excerpts (3-7 words each), but I would have to pay $1500 AUD for the privilege.

Not $1500 in total, you understand. $1500 FOR. EACH. EXCERPT.

Yeah, I’m starting to earn half a living at my writing, but I can’t afford that.

And now I’m really scared to hear back about the licensing rights for my title. Because *coff*I was dumb enough to make the title of my book an excerpt from a Monkees song as well*coff* I have no idea if I’m going to be able to afford to use BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU as a title after all. Which means I’m now looking for alternative titles, because even if I can afford to use the title, I don’t want to wait forever to hear back. Song licensing, like trade publishing, tends to move at a somewhat glacial pace. If I don’t hear back by mid-January, I’ll go ahead with an alternate title.

So basically, throw some titles my way, guys. If you’ve read BATEOY on Wattpad and know something of what it’s about, give me your best shot. Help an author out!

W.R. on the Air-Waves, Redux: The Interview

Arguably my favourite part of the studio: the monitor that was perched on a dictionary of composers…

So, as I may have mentioned, I had my first in-person Author Interview on the radio just a few days ago. I was terrified–a wild author in captivity, so to speak–and for the ten minutes that I had to wait before my interview, I greatly regretted that I’d ever agreed to do it.

Fortunately for me, I was interviewed by the amazing Rod Gray, who not only has one of the classic Radio Voices, but was incredibly easy to chat with. He was a great host, too, and he made the whole process easy. Not only that, he made it a lot of fun.

Rod hard at work prior to the interview.

We discussed quite a few things in the 14 minute interview: from the perennial question of ‘where do your ideas come from?’ to POD and self-publishing; then from upturning tropes to Stephen Sondeim’s ‘Into the Woods’…

For those of you who couldn’t listen on the day, here’s an audio clip of the interview. ‘Scuse my broad Aussie accent–and just be grateful that I seem to have grown out of the phase where I sound like a little boy over the radio… (I certainly am grateful!)

Rod Gray and me in studio, as taken by the lovely Gill, who arranged the interview in the first place. Thanks Gill!

 

W.R. on the Air-Waves!

Current Frame of Mind: alternately terrified and excited.

Why, you ask?

Because I’m having my first radio interview as an Author, tomorrow. Now, I’ve been on the radio before: I was a School-of-the-Air kid for a few years, after all, and we visited the base station a time or two. I find that I’m significantly more nervous about this particular interview, however.

Sedate, authorly me

Part of this is because I’m not particularly fond of communicating aloud now that I write more than ever. I never quite know what to say, especially if I’m talking to someone I’ve never met, in a place I’ve never before been. The rest of it is because I sound like a little boy when I’m on the phone or radio, so there’s that.

Despite that, I’m still reasonably excited. Well, it’s not every day I get the chance to be on a local radio station to talk about myself and my books, after all. I ran around madly this morning, making sure that the places that stock my paperbacks had a supply at hand–yanno, just in case people hear me and immediately go dashing out to find my amazing books for their precious loved ones–and now that I’m on lunch at work, it’s time to write down some Things To Say.

Terrified, authorly me (otherwise known as NaNoWriMo face)

I knew about this interview roughly a month ago, by the way. And yes, today is the first day I’ve actually sat down to write down some thoughts on what I’m going to talk about if asked. I may or may not have mentioned my superpower of procrastination before…

But it can’t be that bad, right?? Right??

K-DRAMA REVIEWS: The Suspicious Housekeeper (수상한 가정부)

Every now and then you come across something that is an instant classic with you personally. You know what I mean: it’s nearly perfect, though not quite perfect, and even its imperfections are familiar and loved friends by the time you’ve finished watching/reading it.

That’s how I felt about The Suspicious Housekeeper by the time I finished the first episode. I still feel like that. It’s far from perfect, but even those imperfections are an integral part of what I like about this odd-ball, not-this-nor-that South Korean Drama.

What is unusual about me loving this drama so much is that it deals with a couple of things that I will almost never watch, but found were dealt with in a beautiful way. In fact, there were a lot of things about it that, had I known in advance, would have stopped me from watching it altogether.  Themes such as adultery, suicide, teenage rebellion carried to extremes, and little children in emotional pain are not things that I would typically watch for amusement. The Suspicious Housekeeper does them in such a way, however, that I found them not only surprisingly moral, but enthralling.

The title refers to a Housekeeper hired by father Sang Chul after his wife dies, to look after his children and the house. It’s not, you understand, that she is suspicious of someone (though she is, later on). It’s more that everyone finds her suspicious. But really, it could go either way and work just fine.

The plot

-ish. It’s kinda hard to condense HOW MUCH FLAMIN’ PLOT there is in these 20 eps down to a paragraph or two. The essentials, however, are as follows:

*Sang Chul’s wife died in an accidental drowning before the beginning of the drama–or did she? The children are reeling from her death already, though Sang Chul is less sad.

*Sang Chul is less sad because he wasn’t really ever in love with his wife, and had, in fact, been having an affair. Normally, this would have stopped me watching the series immediately. This time it didn’t, because knowing a little bit about K-Dramas now, I was very well aware that in a drama of this calibre, cheating would never be shown to be okay, or rewarded. I was right, and I’m happy I was right, because this show is so worth watching!

Sang Chul’s mistress. Oh, I hated her! Her ending, however, I completely loved. Well done, the writers.

*Basically, by the end of the first couple episodes, everything is on fire. The children are no longer sure of anything. They know their dad cheated on their mother. They don’t know whether or not he loves them because he’s a truthful (if wishy-washy) man, and can’t commit to tell them he loves them when he isn’t sure he is.

*The children take over the house and refuse to let Sang Chul back in until he agrees that he will never again meet with his lover. This is, again, something that would normally make me stop watching something: I have no love for children being taught that it’s okay to dishonour their parents. But again, the way this drama dealt with it was so poignant and beautiful that I can’t really fault it.

*Toward the middle, after Bok Nyeo has more or less settled things with the children (if not with Sang Chul) we meet with a VERY SCARY MAN who Bok Nyeo is sure she knows, but that man is supposed to be dead. This is where the drama goes from family drama into psychological thriller, including a crooked cop, a stalker, and layer upon layer of conspiracy. The children by this point are firmly on Bok Nyeo’s side, and fiercely love her, so there is the constant threat of danger to them as well as Bok Nyeo.

That’s all I can say without major spoilers, so on to the characters!

The Characters

This is Bok Nyeo. She doesn’t smile. She very rarely shows any emotion, as a matter of fact, even guilt. When Sang Chul asks her how she could do a certain thing that she’d done, and asked her didn’t she feel any guilt/responsibility, her response is: “I threw that away somewhere.”

What Bok Nyeo does do is cook exactly like the childrens’ mother did, keep the house impeccably clean, and…follow orders. I mean, really follow orders. Without hesitation, without second thought, without remorse, and without ruth. (Yeah, I could have said ‘ruthlessly’, but it wouldn’t have matched, okay?!)

This, with the four children also giving orders, could and does become dangerous. And yet, each time, when I hoped for the best from the children, they invariably showed me their best (after a little while in the case of some of them).

Bok Nyeo is a truly amazing character, played by a truly amazing actor.

Sang Chul, the childrens’ father. His life is unravelling, one awful lie after another. Weak, wishy-washy, and yet absolutely truthful with his children once the biggest, dreadful truth is out there. It’s like he lied to himself and everyone else so much that now he won’t even lie when his children want to hear that he loves them and he doesn’t think he does love them.

Eldest daughter Han Gyul. Angsty, bereft at her mother’s death, and furious with her father for cheating, she is an explosion of bad decisions waiting to happen. I actually kinda disliked her for a long time, but I could really see why she was behaving the way she was behaving, so I was willing to give her some slack.

As the eldest girl, Han Gyul gets not only a big part in the proceedings (both family drama and thriller), but her own little story-line complete with a couple of love interests (one of whom manages to be even MORE ANGSTY than she is, which is, frankly, incredible.) Kim So Hyun was as amazing as ever in this part, but then, I’ve never seen her anything but amazing.

Eldest brother Doo Gyul–AKA, my squishy. I loved this kid! He was my favourite of all the kids, despite me loving clever cookie Si Gyul and adorable Hye Gyul. I actually started out by hating him: mostly because he slapped Bok Nyeo, and that really got up my nose. Before too many episodes were over, however, I had begun to love this messed-up little kid.

Doo Gyul actually makes this face (or variations thereof) A LOT. That’s because he’s always doing something daft.

Why, you ask? A number of reasons. The first and foremost of these is because of his big heart. The second is his stupidity. He rushes in where angels fear to tread, stuffs things up majorly, and tries his stupid best to protect and serve the people he loves. Mostly he does this by doing groan-worthy things that a moment’s reflection might have told him were bad ideas, but that just made me love him more. He’s quick-tempered, hasty, and really not very bright. The thing that cemented my love for him was the scene where he and the other children sneak up on Bok Nyeo at the amusement park, where she has a meal set up for someone else. Doo Gyul sits down angrily, grabs one of the burgers, and stuffs it in his mouth, saying: “These are ours now!” He’s just adorable.

Clever cookie Si Gyul. Oh, this little baby! He’s dealing with mum’s death, bullies, and the fact that he has to pass his tests. He made me cry. This whole drama made me cry so many times, but Si Gyul was the first who made me cry happy tears because I was so proud of him. That’s right, I cried because I was proud of A TOTALLY IMAGINARY PERSON. Si Gyul is such a little darling.

Darling, pig-tailed Hye Gyul. An emotive little girl who just wants someone to love, and a stable family. Hye Gyul made me cry heaps because she’s always getting knocked down and having to get up again–always having to deal with things that are far too big and old for her to deal with.

Bok Nyeo doesn’t show much emotion, but when she does, you can guarantee that Hye Gyul is the cause of it, somehow.

Honestly, most of the tender Bok Nyeo moments were because of Hye Gyul, and Hye Gyul is the primary mover in Bok Nyeo’s eventual restoration.

Hye Gyul is the one who brings back fear, love, slight happiness, and tenderness into Bok Nyeo’s scarred, cold life. When Bok Nyeo’s freakin’ scary stalker sees them together, in fact, the first thing he does is go off into a mad rage: “I saw a mother’s look on her face again? Why is there a mother’s look on her face?”

Which brings us to scary stalker guy, Seo Ji Hoon. This guy legit terrified me. Gorgeous face, and the most frightening eyes I’ve ever seen. He creeped me out every time he appeared on the screen, and he just got scarier and scarier as the episodes went on.

One of the scariest things about Ji Hoon? His ability to portray absolute fragility.

His utter ruthlessness in going after what he wanted, his boy-like adoration, his terrifying tenderness–this guy just really freaked me out. First rate job, Song Jong Ho. You’ll always be my litmus test for creepy stalker guy.

You’re never in any doubt that this man is a Very Bad Man, but you can’t stop watching with your mouth open.

Flaws…

I loved this so much, guys. I really did. Go out and watch it, and you’ll see why. You’ll come to me with tears on your face saying: “W.R., why?? Why all the feels?? Why did you make me cry?”

And yet, it wasn’t perfect. I’ve come to the conclusion that perfection in this case might have made me love it a little less. I love this imperfect, messy, emotion-tugging drama.

And yes, okay: the camera does tend to pan over each of the children’s faces to get each of their reactions every time something particularly bad or good happens. It’s campy but the kids are such good actors, and it’s done so often that it’s more of a quirk than an actual flaw. Maybe a quirky flaw.

And it’s too long. Well, not exactly too long. But the storyline doesn’t quite know what it is–is it a family drama, a psychological thriller, or a story of redemption through pain?–and this means that it has three rather uneven acts. Again, it’s more of a quirk than a flaw, and I admire this story for pushing out of the mould and being what it wants to be. It also means that you get satisfaction on all counts and all threads: the family drama is brought to a close, the thriller ends with a bang, and the redemption is lovely. It’s just…odd.

I’ll leave you with this pic. It’s what I like to imagine the family looks like now. I love that they’re all smiling, even Bok Nyeo.

HEY HEY IT’S THE MONKEES!

I’m ridiculously excited.

I probably told you guys this ages ago, but tonight is the night I go to see The Monkees. So I can’t concentrate to write, or study, or do anything, in fact (except rewatch The Librarians S2 with me Ma). It’s also a chance to dress up, so that’s nice.

Because I LOVE an opportunity to dress up!

Because I LOVE an opportunity to dress up!

I’ll let you know how it went when I get back…

…OKAY, I’M BACK AND GUYS IT WAS BRILLIANT AND THE MONKEES ARE BRILLIANT AND I HAVEN’T HAD SO MUCH FUN IN AGES.

*Deep breath*

Okay, first things first. I am delighted to announce that Peter Tork still does the adorable prancing thing while he plays (guitar, banjo, or keyboard). AND IT IS STILL JUST AS FLAMIN’ ADORABLE. He can also pick a really mean banjo and has a delightful sense of humour. Mickey Dolenz is still as brash and fun and loud as ever, and has more energy than I do on a good day!

The whole thing, in fact, had so much energy and vibe and fun to it that I don’t think I’ve been to a live performance I enjoyed more. The supporting musicians were absolutely wonderful, and both to frame and accent the Monkees performance beautifully.

AND GUYS. GUYS. I GOT TO DANCE TO THE MONKEES, LIVE.

Who got to dance to the Monkees, live?? This girl, that's who!

Who got to dance to the Monkees, live?? This girl, that’s who!

(If I’d have been a bit quicker I would have got to shake Peter’s hand, too, but I can live without that 😀 )

They came back on the stage ‘cos we made such a noise when they left, hooting and yelling and clapping, and played Pleasant Valley Sunday. Then they played as a last thing, I’m a Believer (reminding us with a twinkle in their eyes that they played it before Shrek), and some people started to go up the front and dance.

Well. I knew I’d never get another opportunity to dance to the Monkees, so of course I left my seat and danced!

I only took three photos (I tend to soak things in instead of taking pics) and they’re all very bad ones, but long story short, if you’re wondering whether the ticket was worth the price, then YES, many times over.

monkees

My two favourite Monkees, Peter and Mickey <3

Now I just need to wind down enough to sleep….

(In related news, I’m slowly slowly getting replies to my inquiries about using lyrics from The Monkees’ songs in Bright as the Eyes of You, though I still don’t yet know if I’ll be able to afford to do so. Meanwhile, lovely beta readers are reading BatEoY and I’ve already had some very useful feedback, so things are still progressing for a late-this-year/early-next-year publication.)

Leading Ladies of Fantasy Storybundle

THE LEADING LADIES FANTASY BUNDLE

storybundle-covers

The Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle – Curated by Charlotte E. English

You know how it goes. There’s one female character in the book, and she’s someone’s love interest. She’s given little to do and less to wear. She has no good lines, and nothing to contribute save her helplessness.

These are not those stories.

This year, I wanted to champion the kind of great, riveting fantasy which doesn’t sideline the ladies. Happily, indie fantasy has absolutely masses to offer. I’ve assembled some of my favourite books by some of my favourite authors, every one of which offers somebody memorable, vivid and real to spend time with.

In these tales of derring-do, the ladies have stepped firmly out of the background. Not every story is female-led, though many are. In some of these books, they’re taking centre stage and rocking it. In others, it’s a supporting cast of women that shines.

I have for you an aristocratic amateur sleuth and a wayward forest witch from W. R. Gingell; a top mathematician and codebreaker from Lindsay Buroker; and from Joseph Robert Lewis and J. Zachary Pike, elf ladies as we’ve never seen them before. There’s a cursed princess from Annie Bellet, a brilliant scholarly mage from Rachel Cotterill, and a cast of wizards, necromancers and dragons from Joseph Lallo. And from me, there’s a predominantly female team of wily masqueraders with a grand mystery to solve.

These books cover a range of fantasy sub-genres, from comic to epic to romantic to adventure fantasy. They’ll take you to diverse fantasy worlds, and show you how spectacular leading ladies can be. – Charlotte E. English

The initial titles in the Leading Ladies Fantasy Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:

  • Elf Saga – Doomsday (Omnibus Edition) by Joseph Robert Lewis
  • The D’Karon Apprentice by Joseph R. Lallo
  • Watersmeet by Rachel Cotterill
  • Masque by W.R. Gingell
  • Encrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 1 by Lindsay Buroker

If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all five of the regular titles, plus five more!

  • Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike
  • Seven Dreams by Charlotte E. English
  • Gryphonpike Chronicles Volume 1: The Barrows by Annie Bellet
  • Wolfskin by W.R. Gingell
  • Decrypted – Forgotten Ages Book 2 by Lindsay Buroker

And as a special bonus for our newsletter subscribers, we’re giving away a free copy of Jo Lallo’s The Book of Deacon Anthology, which includes the entire Book of Deacon trilogy as well as Jade, a short novel set after the events of The Book of Deacon, The Rise of the Red Shadow, a prequel to the trilogy, and more! Did we mention that it’s free?

This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!

It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.

Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.

  • Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
  • Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
  • Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
  • Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
  • Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!

StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.

For more information, visit our website at storybundle.com, tweet us at @storybundle and like us on Facebook.

Update: Bright as the Eyes of You

Hi, everyone!

So, as you may have seen, Bright as the Eyes of You has a complete first draft on Wattpad, and now nearly a complete second draft in hardcopy (changes which I now have to transfer to digital, argh!) Some very lovely readers have already sent me niggles and inconsistencies that they noticed in the first draft so that I could fix them for the second, so I’ve been very busy with that.

What’s next?

I’m so glad you asked.

At the moment I’m mired up in Copyright Swamp. As some of you may or may not have guessed, the title of BatEoY and all the chapter headings were tiny excerpts from songs by one of my favourite bands, The Monkees. And since songs sung by The Monkees are still under copyright, I’ve had to go scouring the internets for the copyright holders of 16 different excerpts from 16 different songs.

It ain’t easy, I’m tellin’ ya!

I’ve heard back from a few of them, but nothing to tell me how much it will cost to get licenses to use the lyrics, so I’m still stuck. If it’s too expensive, I’ll have to simply seek a license for the title and take away the chapter headings for publication. It will make me sad, but I’d be sadder if I were to be sued for copyright infraction, so there’s that.

Fellow writers, don’t do this to yourself. Don’t pick out chapter headings from still-copyrighted songs and then come to love your odd, perfect, whimsical chapter headings so much that it seems to physically hurt to take them away. Learn from my pain.

Anyhoo.

Now that I’ve got the second draft of BatEoY nearly ready to go, I’ll be sending out copies to my Awesome Beta Readers next week. (I’ll also send it off to my mum, so she can pick out all my typos). And after that, BatEoY will be going off to an Actual Editor™ for a second round of edits. I’m kinda nervous, because I haven’t worked with an Actual Editor™ before.

But no gain without pain, eh?

So if you’ve read the first draft of BatEoY, now is the time to tell me all the mistakes I made. Seriously. Have at it.

And now that I’ve (sort of) finished BatEoY (well, come to a temporary, unavoidable halt, anyway), and now that I’m finally caught up on my NaNoWriMo word count, I’m going RELAX HARD. Oh, and sit down and watch some KDrama. Because it’s study, guys.

Photo from Regency Grooming

Photo from Regency Grooming

Have a glorious week, you blokes!

Musings: Writing in the Negative Space

I’m baaaa-aaaaack!

G’day!

I was having a discussion with a friend of mine, recently. This friend is insanely talented (he writes and draws), and we were talking over a collaborative idea I’d had for both of us to work on (said collaborative idea involving a graphic novel/comic style book).

This led us into a discussion of the sort of illustration style I had in mind–which, to be honest, mostly served to illustrate (ha! see what I did there?) how little idea I had of the style I wanted, and how little I knew about drawing and graphics as a whole. One of the art styles I brought up as something I liked was the art of Hellboy, which led off into another discussion–this one about the use of negative space.

Negative space.

Mike Mignola's Hellboy

Mike Mignola’s Hellboy

It’s a concept that I’d heard of before, but not in a while. The concept, like the style, is deceptively simple: negative space is the space that surrounds an object (the positive space) in an image. In the concept of negative space, this space is just as important–and in some cases, more important–than the positive space. It defines the positive space. It gives the positive space its meaning and boundaries. As a method of illustration, it brings a certain starkness and boldness of style that I love.

After discussing this with my friend, it occurred to me that I’m fond of negative space in more than just illustrations. I’m also a huge fan of negative space when it comes to reading–and writing.

On the face of it, you’d say that it’s not possible to used negative space for anything that isn’t visual. I would then say that you’re dead wrong. (If, on the other hand, you’d say that you agree completely, I’d stutter around a bit because the conversation was not going the way it went in my head and I was now flailing while my brain re-routed it.)

Because of course it’s possible. The execution may be slightly different, but the idea of presenting a concept, world, or character by using factors and indicators outside of the actual concept, world, or character, is a totally legitimate form of writing. It’s also a very effective one.

So there you have it, guys.

Basically, if you ever read one of my books that doesn’t make sense to you, or where the world-building, characters, or concept is never fully explained, it’s just me writing in the negative space and you obviously haven’t been clever enough to understand my genius *snark, snark* (IT’S ALL THERE IN THE SUBTEXT, GUYS.)

Seriously, though.

Negative space is one of my favourite styles of writing–was even before I thought of it as an actual style–and I typically try to explain as little as possible, leaving the reader to figure things out on their own by the way the book is written and the way the characters act and react. (“Never apologise, never explain”, as Antonia Forest says through her Navy-trained characters).

Because I trust you guys to be clever enough to get it. Sometimes, of course, that backfires on me, because sometimes I forget how much I know about the story as a whole, and don’t give my readers enough to work with.

In other words, negative space can be a double-edged sword, which means it needs to be handled very carefully (especially if you’re inclined to clumsiness, like me). But when done well, it’s delightful to read.

My favourite users of negative space: Antonia Forest, Ronald Kidd, Diana Wynne Jones, and Nicholas Fisk.

Antonia Forest uses her negative space in the form of conversation: aka, what is often not written in the form of narrative is given to the reader just as clearly by effective dialogue. It shapes the narrative rather than the narrative shaping it.

In a similar fashion, Ronald Kidd (especially in the fabulous Sizzle and Splat) writes whole passages of dialogue only, and it is amazingly effective. Seriously, go and read Sizzle and Splat right now.

Diana Wynne Jones uses her negative space more in the way of spare, no-nonsense narrative that in its simplicity says a lot more than another writer would say in twice as many words. She uses simple words and easy sentences, and they’re superbly  effective.

Nicholas Fisk, now: he’s the the really interesting one. His negative space is more of an idea than an actual thing. It’s the adult perspective. See, he writes children’s books. I could read them easily as a child and understood and loved them. Now that I read them as an adult, its as though there’s a second layer there: a layer just for me as an adult, that shapes the story into different–and yet they’re just the same–lines than it had when I was a child.

I don’t always do it well, and I don’t always do it effectively, but I don’t think I’ll ever stop using negative space.