The Ghosts of Heaven Blog Tour: Marcus Sedgwick on the Writing Process

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Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick was born in Kent, England. Marcus is a British author and illustrator as well as a musician. He is the author of several books, including Witch Hill and The Book of Dead Days, both of which were nominated for the Edgar Allan Poe Award. The most recent of these nominations rekindled a fascination with Poe that has borne fruit here in (in The Restless Dead, 2007) the form of “The Heart of Another” – inspired by Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart.” Of his story, Sedgwick says, “This was one of those stories that I thought might be a novel originally but actually was much better suited to the tight form of the short story. I had the initial idea some years ago but was just waiting for the right ingredient to come along. Poe’s story, as well as his own fascination with technique, provided that final piece of the puzzle.”

Follow Marcus Sedgwick on Twitter! Check out the author website! Become a fan on Facebook! Read an excerpt of The Ghosts of Heaven!

I asked Marcus to talk about his writing process and his response is stellar! I’m quite excited to share it with you so enjoy, you guys!

I’ve been publishing books for around fifteen years now and in that time there have been a few tricky moments. Writer’s block is something everyone has heard of, but actually it’s not one single problem, but more a kind of syndrome; a variety of issues and pitfalls any one or more of which might be stopping you writing what you want to write. One of the things that freaked me out a while ago was that I had had to change the way I made a book. In the early days I had a nice system rolling along, one that allowed me to produce a book every year while at the same time also being a father and holding down a full time day job. And then, suddenly, I realized that it wasn’t working for the book I was trying to make at the time. It took a change of thinking and a small brave step to accept that I might need to work in different way for this one.

 

Once I had, the book came together, but I also realized that in fact I had been working in a slightly different way for each book, without being aware of it. Every book needs different things, if it didn’t, it would be exactly the same book as the time before. For someone who had been used to doing a lot of research for my books, when I came to write one that suddenly, without warning, seemed to need almost none, that again freaked me out. And when I came to write a book that didn’t seem to need much planning, I was again asked to take a brave step and go into unknown territory.

 

At the moment, I have to say I relish the differences in working that each new book seems to bring – I’ve come to see it as a pleasant surprise rather than something to worry about. You never know, when that first idea for a book strikes you, where it will take you over the course of the years that it will take to produce. And I mean that literally, as well as metaphorically. I have visited so many interesting places in order to make a new book, that’s been a truly wonderful thing. And yet you are also taken to new places as a writer by each book – what style will I write in? What will the voice or voices be like? Will I need to experiment with structure or other narrative form? I love these challenges now and with each new book I try to set myself new goals and explore unknown lands, as much to keep myself interested in the process as to entertain the reader.

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With Ghosts of Heaven, it was a mixture of various things I’d done before – some travel (derelict psychiatric hospitals, the Yorkshire Dales), a fair amount of reading (books about language development, Neolithic cave art), a massive amount of daydreaming (on everything from the shape of the spiral to the breakdown of logic in physics at near-light speeds), as well as some things I hadn’t done before, like writing the poetry written by some of my characters, or writing music for me to work to. As for planning, I had a rough outline for the nature of each of the four stories in the book, but that was more or less it. Because each story is only around 20,000 words, you can keep the whole thing more or less in your head. With a novel that is one chunk of 80,000 words, I find I need a bit more of a plan to work to.

 

With every book I write, I draw a map – a kind of mindmap of the story, and I make this before I start writing so I know what I’m trying to do. These maps all work in different ways, and once again, a new book required a different map – in this case, I built a small four sided pyramid, one side for each quarter of the book, and scribbled my notes on each side, so that I could see how the four stories all linked up if read in any different order. New book, new rules. And as I saw, where once that used to scare me so much that it could stop me from working, I love it now, and can’t wait to find out where I get taken to, next time around.

 

MS December 1, 2014

The Ghosts of Heaven Blog Tour Schedule

Monday January 5

The Midnight Garden

 Tuesday January 6

ExLibris

 Wednesday January 7

Teen Lit Rocks

 Thursday January 8

Fat Girl Reading

 Friday January 9

Step Into Fiction

 Monday January 12

The Book Wars

 Tuesday January 13

Miss Print

 Thursday January 15

Ticket to Anywhere

 Friday January 16

Alice Marvels

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