The World and Adventures of Master Detective Nicely Strongoak and Writer Terry Newman. The #1 USA Kindle Epic Fantasy ***** Bestseller "Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf" now joined by his New Adventure: "The King of Elfland's Little Sister".
My mother always used to say it and I, full of my vast knowledge of science – at that stage mostly gained from SF books and comics – would laugh and go out anyway, hair soaking wet.
Advice you see, it’s always difficult to take when the reasons for it aren’t obvious. Advice, tricky to take and sometimes tricky to give too.
When I actually gained enough scientific knowledge to put ‘scientist’ on my passport (except you couldn’t by then) I still found myself in a position where advice had to taken. From people with more experience, it made sense to listen, but it was harder when they didn’t necessarily know any more about the subject than you, but were just ‘senior’. Of course, when the advice came from somebody reviewing your research paper, you had to take notice or it may not have been published. Difficult then if you didn’t agree with the referee, so you tried to appear to be bending over backwards to accommodate their advice, while sticking as closely to your own guns as possible. An interesting mixture of metaphors there, I’m sure you will agree.
After becoming a radio and TV comedy writer, the next obvious step after being a research scientist, I still had to take advice. Usually this came from a producer and of course you had to listen to this otherwise your sketch didn’t get broadcast. One, now very famous, multi award-winning, comedy producer once told me to take my sketch away and put more ‘melons’ in it. You can probably guess what type of melons he was referring to. I didn’t want to put more ‘melons’ in it; I don’t particularly like ‘melon-heavy’ sketches. I put the ‘melons’ in it though. It was broadcast and got laughs. (I still think it would have got laughs without the increased ‘melon’ count, but I’m not the one with the BAFTAS).
Now as fantasy writer I still get advice and this time it’s from an editor. So what’s the best approach to take?
The difficulty of becoming an author (♂) of SF and fantasy is as nothing compared with the really hard choice of deciding which hat one should wear to complete the image. The problem is compounded if one still has a full head of hair or, indeed, actually is a hat fan and likes wearing different hats, depending on mood and the occasion. This will not do though, oh no!
Above all hat wearing for the author is about creating the right image, unless you’re somebody of the calibre of Terry Pratchett and it doesn’t matter about image because you are so damn good that you can wear a kettle if you so fancy. For the rest of us a few pointers are useful.
The Black Hat suggests mystery and danger and possibly vampires as well. There is no doubt that with a Black Hat you will be taken seriously – unless it doesn’t fit properly as Black Hats have a habit of doing. With the Black Hat you have to ‘pull-it-off’ if you want to ‘put-it-on’. We better come back to the Black Hat. Otherwise, you could perhaps go for the brown fedora, a good choice the brown fedora. It suggests a certain devil-may-care attitude that says your hero won’t let a little thing like a goblin army get in his way. Enchanted sword at the ready the brown fedora wearer knows his audience and always has a glint in his eye and an ironic smile on his lips. The brown fedora wearer delivers.
Or perhaps the Greek Captain’s hat might be the best choice? The captain’s hat hints of exotic locations and distant shores, maiden’s in diaphanous clothing, unicorns and, of course, sea monsters. It can be tipped back and worn to bed for that ‘lived in’, ‘world building’ look of the writer with maps at both the start and the end of his epics. The Greek Captain’s hat might just require the use of a writing pen name though – Emile Dulcas sounds good to me.
The Panama has stood many writers in good stead for generations; this is surely the hat for a writer! But isn’t it more Catholic guilt than elves and Goblins? Do Panama hats do dragons? Plus its association with the 5-day cricket Test Match doesn’t exactly shout ‘productivity’. Wouldn’t the hero of a Panama hat wearer be likely to forget about his quest while he discussed the merits of The Duckworth Lewis Method over a jolly-up in the Dancing Dragon?
Have a look here for a very stimulating conversation with fellow writer Jason LaPier discussing combining genres in fiction writing, and much more. It’s always an interesting subject , because people can get very worked up about their favourite genres.
And it’s also interesting to find out how other writers approach their plotting and world building (his book has a great cover too!). Plotting is so important, but can sometimes seem slightly magical. I’m not even sure how I approach my own plots sometimes.
150 years ago this year England’s Edward Whymper became the first man to climb the Matterhorn. I’m not sure if he did it in tweeds; I’d like to think so though. He did not do it “because it’s there”, that was said by mountaineer George Mallory, of the ill-fated Everest attempt some years later, however Edward Whymper, I’m sure, would have agreed with George.
And now I’m going to make what could be a really, really forced and credibility stretching analogy – because writing a book is very much like climbing a mountain.
‘Dwarf Girls Don’t Dance’ is the title of the new Detective Strongoak novella and it’s available free NOW in advance of the paperback release of ‘Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf’.
Yes, absolutely free! Just like a ‘give-away’ to encourage you to buy the ebook (still only £1.99) or the brand new hard copy. ‘Dwarf Girls Don’t Dance’ gives you the definitive lowdown on dwarf women, as well as another slice of the gritty criminal underworld of the seething multi-racial metropolis that is the Citadel. Plus the coolest, fast-talking, best dressed dwarf Master Detective this side of New Iron Town, that’s Nicely Strongoak to you.
I had a mate in Cambridge; well he is actually still a mate – just not in Cambridge. He told me about some people who were putting on a live topical comedy show in small Cambridge venues. They needed some material, so to make a change from what I was doing (worrying and drinking mostly,) I wrote some sketches and they used them.
I was delighted – absolutely over the moon – well stoked!
Fantasy writing can be tricky but it’s hardly like rocket science is it? Why yes it is actually, and I should know, because I’ve done both.
Now let’s get one thing straight. By rocket science I don’t mean the actual science of rockets. Surely we’re pretty good with rockets by now, so how much more does that leave to work out? However, what we do with, and on rockets, is a different matter.