Monthly Archives: August 2015

Are Writers Born or Made?

I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, maybe even before. Writing always seemed something I was supposed to do. My Grandad told me stories, from books and a lot he’d made up himself, when I was little and I’d make up my own too, or add to the ones he told me…

Then when I realised people wrote books and they didn’t just appear out of thin air, I decided I wanted to do that.

I’m not sure if I was born with an intention to write, or if I was made that way by the stories I was told and the books that I read.

I read a lot of fantasy when I was a kid, grew up with Potter and Percy Jackson, and for a long time that was what I wrote too. So, again, it could be said that my ambitions to write were made by what I read. Over the years, I started to read more than fantasy–crime, thrillers, horror–and I started to write more than fantasy–crime, thrillers, horror… Changing what I read changed what I wrote, and how I wrote it. Does that mean what I read made what I wrote, or just that it changed what was already there, what I was born with?

Some authors say they wrote ever since they could remember. J. K Rowling wrote stories about a rabbit called Rabbit, when she was a kid, Stephen King wrote from an early age and hasn’t stopped since. He says that he doesn’t write horror because his childhood was bad, but just because that’s what he likes to write. So King wasn’t, as a writer, made by his experiences.

Neither was I. My childhood was pretty normal. Climbing trees, pretending I was Indian Jones or Alan Grant from Jurassic Park, but most of what I write is pretty dark and violent. So, in this sense, the way I write wasn’t made by my childhood or my life.

Some authors, like Lee Child, didn’t start writing until pretty late in life. Child was laid off from his job and turned to writing in the months after. He hadn’t done it professionally before, for novels, instead he wrote commercials and news stories. But finishing his previous job made him start writing novels.

So in that sense, it could be said that Lee Child was made, as a writer (novel writer), more than he was born as one.

A lot of writers/authors say they only ever wanted to write, that it felt natural and that they have done it from a very early age. Some say different.

But which is the truth? Are writers/authors born or made? Made and changed by their experiences, a desire to be famous or rich…

Which do you think it is? Born or made?

Feel free to leave a comment for which one you think is true, or if you think it’s both, or even something different, below… 


An Epic Year for Books…

2015 has been an epic year for books. Literally with the second and final books in Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea trilogy being released. If you haven’t read this series yet, check it out. Fantasy doesn’t come much more epic and gritty. Tracer by Rob Boffard was a fast-paced action sci-fi, Finders Keepers by Stephen King was a solid crime sequel to Mr. Mercedes and took the series in a cool direction…

The year is almost half way over, but there are still some great books to look forward to. A few are listed below…

Demon Road Book 1 by Derek Landy

27th August 2015

This is Landy’s first book not set in the Skulduggery world. It seems like a blend of the TV show Supernatural and Skulduggery Pleasant. Cait Grace was lucky enough to get an ARC and reviewed it on Goodreads here.

Make Me (Jack Reacher #20) by Lee Child

10th September 2015

The 20th installment in one of my favourite series sees Reacher back in a small town. Child consistently delivers action, solid writing and plenty of fights, so this should be quality.

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

6th October 2015

I’m a big fan of Norse mythology, and Rick Riordan books always have plenty of action and humour. It’ll be cool to see how he writes Thor and Loki.

Queen of Shadows by Sarah J. Maas

1st September 2015

I wouldn’t have continued with this series after Throne of Glass if I hadn’t read some good reviews for the sequel. The first book had too much romance, but then Maas increased the action and battles, and this series stepped up.

The Dark Army (Starblade Chronicles #2) by Joseph Delaney

7th January 2016

This sequel to Delaney’s second series set in the Spook’s world is released in 2016, but it’s close enough to 2015 that I thought I’d add it to this list. The above cover is for the first book because no cover has been released for the second yet. A New Darkness ended on a huge cliffhanger.

The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1) by Jim Butcher

29th September 2015

I’m a recent fan of the Dresden Files, and this new series from Butcher sounds pretty cool. Steampunk sci-fi, which promises epic action and battles.

Black Widow: Forever Red by Margaret Stohl

13th October 2015

Hopefully this will be the first of many books based on Marvel superheroes. I’m a big Marvel fan and reading about Iron Man, Cap, Thor and the others should be epic.

The Hollow Boy (Lockwood & Co. #3) by Jonathan Stroud


15th September 2015

This series is as fast-paced and funny as Stroud’s Bartimeaus trilogy. This third installment promises answers to the questions from the first two books.

There are a lot more books coming out in 2015, too many to list, so feel free to list a few in a comment below that you’re looking forward to. Or which book is your favourite of the year so far?

Top Ten Tuesday – Top Ten Authors I’ve Read The Most

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish

1 – Lee Child (Jack Reacher books) – 

There are twenty Jack Reacher books so far, the twentieth (Make Me) due out this September. I’ve read all of them but Make Me, and I hope this series continues for a long time. Action-packed and additive, each book is gripping from the start and Reacher is a great main character.

2 – Stephen King – 

Stephen King stands alongside Lee Child as my favourite writer. His characters feel real, despite the crazy plots they’re part of. His writing is unique: you know you’re reading a King book. Under the Dome and 11/22/63 are my favorites of the nine books of his I’ve read so far.

3 – Derek Landy (Skulduggery Pleasant) – 

The Skulduggery Pleasant books (most of them) are fast, funny and addictive. I’ve read eight so far, with the ninth and final book to read. His new series Demon Road comes out soon, and sounds like another quality read.

4 – Michael Crichton – 

Author of one of my favourite books (based on my favourite movie of all time) Jurassic Park, Crichton is a master at blending science and fiction. There are only a couple of his books I haven’t read, and nearly all of them are awesome.

5 – Rick Riordan – 

I grew up with the Percy Jackson books, have read them multiple times. The Kane Chronicles is another solid series, and the first couple of books I’ve read of the Heroes of Olympus are pretty good too. His plots are a little too similar for all of his books, but they make up for it in action and great characters. His new series based on Norse mythology is out this year.

6 – Joseph Delaney (Spook’s Apprentice) – 

Joseph Delaney is author of the Wardstone Chronicles (Last Apprentice in the US), another series i grew up reading. It’s darker than Potter, scarier and as addictive. There are thirteen books in the main series, a couple of them spin-offs with ties to the main storyline. A great series if you’re looking for something to replace Potter.

7 – Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell (The Edge Chronicles) – 

The Edge Chronicles is an eleven book series (with a new spin-off already out), high-fantasy with some unique world-building. Stewart writes the books and Riddell illustrates the. One of the best YA/MG fantasy series around. Check it out.

8 – Jonathan Stroud – 

Author of the Bartimeaus trilogy, and more recently the Lockwood and Co. series. Stroud blends great writing, humour and gripping plot lines.

9 – John Flanagan (Ranger’s Apprentice) – 

I’ve read 8 of the books from the Ranger’s Apprentice series. For the most part, they are action-packed, with some solid characters and plot lines. The earlier ones can be read as stand-alone. The later ones start to blend together more.

10 – J. K. Rowling – 

There are only seven books in the Potter series, but I’ve read them a dozen times each, grew up with them and the movies. I didn’t enjoy her crime book, but will read the second in the series at some point. Hopefully she’ll go back to writing fantasy one day.

Harlan Coben, Dan Brown and James Patterson are three more authors I’ve read plenty of books from.

Does anyone have any of the same authors on their list? Which author have you read the most books from? And which authors do you want to read more book from?

What Type of Writer Are You?

What Type of Writer Are You?

There are probably as many different ways/processes of writing as there are writers. Each writer will likely do something different to another. Whether that is how fast or slow they write, if they plan before or not, where they sit to write or if how they react when they hit a wall…

I thank Stephen King for the way I write now.

Time was I used to write when inspiration hit. A week could go by without anything happening and then there would be a week of writing five hours every day. Most of the time this ended in a manuscript that was too long and disjointed, with writing that was equal parts solid and pretty bad.

So I decided to take Stephen King’s advice–one of the many valuable pieces of it. He writes a set amount of words a day. He can write more, but doesn’t let himself write less. That way, he says (paraphrasing), the characters don’t go stale in his head.

So I decided to try it out. I started writing a minimum of 1,500 words a day, using the rest of the time in between to plan what was going to happen next. I bumped that up to 2,000 and have been sticking to that count pretty much consistently for several years.

It works. But it might not for everyone. Below are a few of the different types of writers I could think of.

The Fast and The Furious writer –

Like an action movie (a decent one– The Fast and Furious franchise, most of Michael Bay’s movies), they don’t let up until the finish. They start and write every day, for several hours, until they type ‘The End’.

The Lord of the Rings Extended Edition writer – 

They move slowly when they need to, taking time for detail and getting things right the first time around.

The Loki from the Avengers Writer – 

They take the time to plot and plan carefully, developing a long game that will ensure they can survive through to the very end of the novel before they actually start writing. 

The Step Brothers (Will Ferrell movie) Writer – 

They avoid writing until they can’t anymore, until someone tells them to get their head in the game, or they realize that they don’t have a choice but to start writing. 

The Marvel Universe Writer – 

They write several books at once, juggling different worlds and characters but eventually bringing everything together in the end. 

The Superman Returns (Or Terminator) Writer – 

They start a project or projects, decide to leave it to start something else, before returning (I’m back.) to give it another shot. 

The John McClane (Die Hard) Writer –

Most of the time they don’t have a clue where they’re going or what’s happening. They get dropped into a project and make it up as they go along, hoping for the best. But it all works out in the end.

 Does anyone fit into one, or are you a different kind of writer? Feel free to drop an answer in a comment below…

Review of Half a War by Joe Abercrombie (A satisfying final book)

Half a War by Joe Abercrombie

Rating 5/5

Half a King is one of my favourite books. The sequel Half the World is also one of my favourite books.22381326

With the first two installments in the Shattered Sea trilogy, Joe Abercrombie delivered action, adventure, some great characters and plenty of bloody battles and violence. His writing style is unlike any other fantasy writer’s I’ve read. It isn’t heavy like some, but it is somehow packed with enough detail to make the story feel realistic.

Some people might not like the violence and grittiness, but this isn’t high fantasy in the usual sense. There are no dragons or goblins, no giants or magic– not in the usual sense. Abercrombie grounds his fantasy world in something real, and the story benefits from it. It’s a fantasy world, but it is also believable and it makes getting into the book even easier.

Not that getting into these books is hard. From the first page of Half a King, you’re sucked into Yarvi’s story. Yarvi becomes Father Yarvi in book 2, and his character develops even further in the final installment, along with other familiar faces, Thorn Bathu, Koll, Queen Laithlan and others. This time around, like in the second book, there are are more characters introduced, and more perspectives. But the big cast isn’t too big and the perspectives don’t shift back and forth too much to make things hard to follow. Most of the characters are as sharp and witty as Abercrombie’s writing style. All of them are cunning.

Like in the first two books, Half a War is packed with action sequences and bloody battles. Barely a chapter goes by without someone dueling or scrapping, or getting various limbs chopped off. If you’re squeamish… try this book anyway. There are more than battles and action in Half a War. Like new character Skara says, “Only half a war is fought with swords.” When Abercrombie isn’t delivering action and battles, he’s twisting the plot and keeping things hard to predict. Characters motives shift or becomes clear, most of them lie.

The twists aren’t just in character motives and plot. Abercrombie changes what I thought the world of these books was. I wasn’t sure about the change at first, but in the end it worked and made these books even more unique.

Half a War isn’t as good as Half the World, but it’s a solid, satisfying final book. Character arcs are completed or left open, questions are answered and the violence, battles and action is as well-written as in the other books. Overall, this completes the trilogy and confirms it as one of the best high-fantasy series I’ve read. If you haven’t started this series yet, you’re missing out.

Highly, highly recommended. 

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