by Stephen Leather
The fun part for me is the fact I tend to lose myself in the story I’m writing, which usually happens in the last quarter of a book. At that point the characters seem so real and their world is so vivid that the ‘real’ world pales into insignificance. I love it when the characters are so developed that I can hear their voice. It’s almost as if I can have a conversation with them. That’s one of the reasons it’s virtually impossible to be bored as a writer – I can be sitting in the post office or at an airport and my head is full of voices and characters. It sounds a bit weird but any writer will know what I’m talking about!
Actually it’s not just writers. From time to time I visit prisons – I’ve been to most of the major prisons in the UK – and talk to prisoners about writing. A lot of prisoners struggle with reading and writing and often that is one of the causes of them making bad decisions in life. All British prions have libraries and enthusiastic librarians, and I’m happy to say that I’m one of the most borrowed authors inside.
During one of my prison visits I met a man who was serving life for killing his grandparents. He’d committed the crime when he was a teenager and when I met him he’d already served more then fifteen years. He was keen to write, and during a lesson he told me how he managed to get through the years in a cell without going crazy. He had invented a whole fictional life, all inside his head. He ran a beach bar on a Caribbean island and whenever he was the cell he would lie on his bunk and go to the bar. He would chat with the locals, he would meet tourists new to the island, he would go home to his house where he knew every room. That world became more real to him than the prison world. ‘They have my body behind bars, but my mind can go wherever it wants,’ he told me.
I knew exactly what he meant. When I’m near the end of a book I inhabit a world that is every bit as real as the world around me. When I write about a gunfight it’s as if I’m there, I can hear the shots and smell the cordite.
The world I describe in my books is so strong that I can write pretty much anywhere. In fact the last thing I need is peace and quite while I write. When I’m writing I sit in front of the TV with my Mac on a coffee table. I watch TV as I write and always have done. Early on in a book I probably write about a thousand words a day, and I do it haphazardly, writing the scenes that I have in my head no matter where in the book they are! It’s not unusual for me to start writing scenes that eventually appear right at the end of the book! After about a month of doing that I become more methodical and start at the beginning and link in the scenes I have already written. At that point I am probably writing fifteen hundred words a day. As I near the end my word count starts to accelerate and over the last ten days I probably write thirty thousand words! I always think of it as a roller coaster, with a long lead up followed by a dash to the finish! It’s the part of writing that I really enjoy, where I am so caught up in the writing that the real world no longer seems to exist. It’s sometimes a shock to reach the end and to jerk back into reality. But that doesn’t last for long because I’m soon on to the next one, and the roller coaster begins again!
About the Author
Before becoming a novelist he was a journalist for more than ten years on newspapers such as The Times, the Daily Mirror, the Glasgow Herald, the Daily Mail and the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. He is one of the country's most successful eBook authors and his eBooks have topped the Amazon Kindle charts in the UK and the US. In 2011 alone he sold more than 500,000 eBooks and was voted by The Bookseller magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the UK publishing world.
Born in Manchester, he began writing full time in 1992. His bestsellers have been translated into fifteen languages. He has also written for television shows such as London's Burning, The Knock and the BBC's Murder in Mind series and two of his books, The Stretch and The Bombmaker, were filmed for TV.
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Stephen's Newest Release: New York Night
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