The Novel Approach welcomes TA Moore today on the Labyrinth of Stone blog tour.
Writers are creatures of habit. Not all – but most – have a few routines that in place that lubricate the flow of inspiration. They write in a specific place or play a specific song; they write in the morning or at night; they write long hand or only on their desktop. Just anything that sets their brain up to expect ‘creativity incoming, here and now’. Oh, and sometimes the habits are ingrained enough to count as ‘rituals’ and get a bit odd. I know one quite well-respected local author who writes with his trousers undone so if he needs to get up to pee it doesn’t interrupt his train of thought too much. I think that verges over to the odd. I mean, that’s fair isn’t it?
Of course, I’m not one to talk. If I see a magpie I rhyme off ‘Hello, Mr Magpie, how’s your wife’ to ward off bad luck. I mean, yes, my website is a bit magpie themed – I love them, and there’s a family that make their nest in my back garden every year. They still give me the superstitious twitches.
As far as my writing goes, though, I think I stick on the right side of habit. However, it definitely doesn’t feel right if I try and write without the trappings. So what are my habits? Ok.
This depends what I am doing. If I am plotting or planning story elements then it has to be on paper. I have stacks of notebooks with story ideas and plot outlines, with lots of crossed out bits and arrows linking different sections. My brain just can’t plot things on a computer screen, I need the tactile involvement of my hands, paper and a pen.
Writing is always on a computer. For years it was in a word document, but I’ve moved to Google Docs in the last few years. The clean interface is just what my brain needs for writing, plus it means I can find it anywhere.
I can write on almost any PORTABLE computing device. Laptop, tablets…I’ve written done a few lines of my phone if inspiration struck when I was on the move. I find it really difficult to write creatively on a desktop. I think it is spending years working and writing non-fic on the desktop. When I sit down at a desk, my brain expects something analytic and it takes lots of fidgeting about to settle down and get words out.
My favourite place to write is the living room, wedged in the corner of the sofa with my laptop balanced half on my knee and half on the arm of the sofa. This is the position that lets inspiration flow unhindered – and screws up my knee and back something fierce. The brain wants what the brain wants though!
Coffee shops. I know, I know. You’re thinking that should have been in location, not background, right. Thanks to coffitivity, though, you can bring the coffee shop to wherever you are! I like background noise when I write. Complete silence is distracting in its own way. I can’t do music. I usually have playlists associated with what I’m writing, but I listen to them in the car or on public transport. Or in the shower, I have a cool waterpoof radio with bluetooth so I can play my phone through it. I pay too much attention to music to have anything with words on while I write, and instrumental music usually makes me sleepy.
I’m too nosy to actually have conversations going on in the background, I just stop writing and start eavesdropping. Coffivitiy is the perfect blend of nonsense noise and reassuring coffee sounds.
Big bottle of water. I should probably drink less – I pee too much for productivity – but it tends to be a place-holder for me. When I need to think, I sit and hydrate absently until my brain clicks in. I’ve tried tea. The problem is that there’s too much potential for faffing around with tea – making it, waiting for it to cool enough to drink, forgetting about it and taking a gulp of cold tea, and then making a whole new cup… It ends up being an excuse.
Pre-Writing Internet Checklist
Before I write anything, I check my Flipboard for any interesting news and then give a quick once over to the Guardian G2 site. Anything I think might be useful, or that I want to come back, I stick into evernote for later.
Man, writing it down it sounds like it takes ages for me to get into the writing frame of mind! It doesn’t really. Most of these are already set up and ready to go. The only one that takes time is the last one, and I tend to scan any longform articles and read them properly in evernote later.
And that’s how I write!
Blurb: 10 years ago the Black Rapture transported thousands of people, seemingly at random, from Earth to the strange, inimical world they call the Labyrinth. Will Teller was one of them. Surviving that meant joining an army and becoming better at killing than he’s comfortable with. It’s enough upheaval for anyone’s life. The only problem is, apparently no-one told his commanding officer that.
Pride, and heart, stung by abandonment, the icily controlled General Nathan Kearney has decided that Teller can either find the wayward lover, or he can take his place in Nathan’s bed. That’s pretty good motivation for a straight guy, only thing is – Teller’s sexuality seems to have gone a bit Magic-8 Ball on that issue. Suddenly Nathan’s starting to look pretty good, and the only question is whether or not Teller wants to be the consolation prize?
Buy Links: Torquere Press | Amazon US | All Romance e-Books
Excerpt Five – Ben Colt: Ben took the second watch shift, leaning against a pile of suitcases as Nathan flopped down and dropped instantly to sleep. It was cold, a damp sort of high-place chill, and the stink from the water made him cough with shallow, irritating regularity. The drear nothing of the place made it dull, and he was just about to get up and stretch his legs to wake himself up when something – somethings – dropped on him.
Legs poking at his eyelids, tickling the insides of his ears. Hard bodies pushing against the seam of his lips and squirming into his nose. He jolted to his feet in instinctive panic, slapping at his face and scratching the back of his neck. Pain nipped at his ear and the back of his neck as he shed the nasty little things.
He scrubbed his hands through his hair, yanking on the knots in his panic, and dropped to his knees next to Nathan. One of the things dropped off his shoulder and landed in Nathan’s curls, trying to wriggle down into the strands. Ben swore in disgust and swiped at the thing. It crunched in his fingers. The ooze that squeezed out of it stung his hands, itching like poison ivy only immediately.
Nathan rolled over and up, waking up on the move. Confusion made him squint for a second and then he registered the itch. He jumped up, swearing and shaking the skittering, twitching things out of his clothes and of his skin.
‘Little shits,’ he panted, trying to stamp on the bugs as they hit the ground. They just burrowed down into the moss, disappearing from view. ‘Get the little bastards off me. Ben, are they off me?’
He was sweating, almost hyperventilating. Nathan’d always hated spiders, cockroaches, bugs of any sort. When they’d been deployed in Iraq, he’d obsessively checked his boots and bags for any hitchhikers.
‘They’re gone. OK? You got them.’
Ben grabbed his shoulders, running a hand around the back of his neck and up into his hair. He patted him down, checking for bugs under his cuffs on clinging to his jeans. Blood dripped from divots taken out of his jaw and the back of his hands – from the wet trickle on his face and in the back of his neck, Ben was probably leaking too – but there were no more bugs.
By the time he finished, Nathan had cooled down and the rest of the survivors were starting to wake up.
Screams broke the stubborn twilight – did the sun ever come up here? – as people jumped and danced and kicked their feet.
‘What the hell!’
‘Oh Jesus, they’re everywhere.’
‘Ah. They bite. God. It stings.’
One woman couldn’t seem to get up, she lay on the ground jerking around like she was having a fit. It was, Ben registered, the same woman who’d told them this was God’s corpse. One of the attendants, still shaking from the bugs, crouched down to try and calm her. Something made his eyes widen and he jumped back, falling into the moss and dragging himself frantically back to his feet using another man as a ladder. He backed away, shaking his head, and the other passengers pulled back from the woman. It was that familiar trauma circle, bystanders pulled back enough to avoid contagion, but close enough not to miss anything.
‘That’s not good,’ Nathan said. He wiped sweat off his face and grimaced at his bloody hands, blotting them on his jeans. ‘Is that…?’
‘Yeah,’ Ben said gruffly. He started forwards – hearing Nathan hesitate, curse and take two long strides to catch up.
‘It’s not our problem,’ Nathan muttered, falling into step at Ben’s shoulder.
‘No? What if we’re the only people stuck here? She’s our problem then.’
He got a grunt in answer. Since Nathan stayed where he was, that made it his ‘fine, we’ll do it your way’ grunt. The woman had stopped flailing when they reached her. She lay on her back in the moss, whimpering softly through the knuckles she’d shoved in her mouth.
Her leg was caught in a knot of the Spanish moss stuff they’d been sleeping on. Ben heaved a relieved sigh. The way these idiots had been getting on, he’d thought –
Then she tried to get up again, kicking and making a mad, trapped rabbit squeak down her nose. Blood sprayed out from her foot and that’s when Ben say it.The moss wasn’t wrapped around her leg. It was growing through it.
’Right,’ Ben said roughly, filling the air just to fill it. He knelt down next to her and put his hand on her knee. Something wriggled against his palm, and he had to clench his teeth and resist the urge to scream and leave the woman to it. Instead he grimaced a smile. ‘Let’s get you out of that, huh?’
Her chest hitched and fell with ragged, unhappy breaths. A woman in sweat pants and a headscarf sniffed at him. ‘You aren’t meant to have weapons on a plane.’
Ben glared at her. ‘It wasn’t. It was in my luggage,’ he said. ‘You wanna help?’
She didn’t. So Nathan sat on the woman, pinning her arms and free leg down, while Ben went to work on the moss. The blonde screamed like he was cutting off her fingers when he sawed through the moss. It wasn’t hard. The stuff was fibrous, but dry and brittle. It snapped against the edge of the knife and sunk back into the woman’s skin.
The taproot was plugged into her foot, blistered skin bubbled over the heel. Ben gripped her foot, thumb digging into the narrow arch, and tried to pull it out. It slid out an inch, wet and slimy as tendons, and the woman’s leg…it slid. It felt like disjointing a boiled chicken, tendons stretching under skin that was too loose.
He gave up on pulling, swallowing the bubble of bile in the back of his throat. Options snapped through his head. He could take the leg off. Instinct told him that, this was the sort of fucked up mess that needed cut back hard. Except there were no painkillers, no hospital. All the water they had was in little plastic bottles and…well, survival was a heartless game. Wherever this was – whatever this was – Ben had the feeling there’d be no help coming.
Not soon. Maybe not ever. They couldn’t afford an invalid.
He licked his lips and glanced at Nathan. The same numbers game had turned his lover’s eyes cold. A dip of a beard-scruffed chin meant they were in agreement on final numbers.
Ben carved the root off close to the heel, shaving off wet, stretched blister skin and some meat. Maybe – what did he know? – maybe that would be enough.
It wasn’t. They only learned that later though. That was when Ben realised the lucky ones died early.
Author Bio: As a small child TA Moore genuinely believed that she was a Cabbage Patch Kid and no-one had told her. This was the start of a lifelong attachment to the weird and fantastic. These days she lives in Northern Ireland with an unimpressed cat and her friends have a rule that she can only send them three weird and disturbing links a day (she still holds that a DIY penis bifurcation guide is interesting, not disturbing).
TA Moore believes that adding ‘in space’ to anything makes it at least 40% cooler, will try to pet pretty much any dog she meets and once lied to her friend that she had climbed all the way up to Tintagel, when actually she’d only gotten to the beach and chickened out. She writes about vampires, werewolves and ghosts (*whispers* ‘in space!) and once wrote zombie erotica to prove it could be done.
The author can be found at: Facebook | Twitter
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