Sunday, 28 February 2010

Character profiles: John Park

Name: John Park
Age: 38

Odd job man, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Laid back and likeable, John is good at finding information and tracking down hard-to-locate objects - as well as talking his way into free drinks at the bar!
John went into the kitchen area and Dak heard him open one of the storage cupboards and open a can.

“That’s coming out of your rations,” he called, going over to join John in the kitchen.

John shrugged, taking a swig from the can. “I’ll get us more at Mars,” he told the captain.
Inspiration & character creation: John wasn't Korean until I decided on his last name. Park seemed to suit him, then I realised there seemed to be a lot of Korean actors and actresses with that surname - Enterprise's Linda Park and Battlestar Galactica's Grace Park to name just two. I Googled it and what do you know - it's one of the most common Korean surnames. You learn something new every day!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Sci fi web comic - Crimson Dark

I'd like to introduce you to the wonderful webcomic that is Crimson Dark. I only found it this week but I absolutely love it.

It's drawn by an Aussie called David Simon and the story revolves around a space ship and her crew in the 27th century. The crew are all a bit odd, each with their own quirks, and the stories are really good.

I think the reason I like it so much is that it reminds me of Alive!, or at least, of how I'd like Alive! to be - whether or not it actually comes across with the same feel I'll have to leave to you to tell me. Feel free to leave comments on here.

The graphics are partly 3D and partly traditional, and they are amazing. If I could draw like this, Alive! would be a web comic!

To read the comic click here.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Character profile: Keller Anis

Thanks to the brilliant character creator in Star Trek Online I can actually show you how I envisage some of my characters. First up is Keller Anis, engineer of the MF Crazy Horse in my seriel novel Alive!

Name: Keller Anis
Age: 30

Engineer, Martian Freighter Crazy Horse

Personality: Stubborn, dedicated sometimes to the point of losing focus on other things, serious at work but relaxed off-duty.

Misc: Keller is a very talented engineer and looks on her ship almost as her child. She believes she can fix anything, given the time and equipment, and so far hasn't been faced with a situation to prove her wrong.
She can be stubborn and hard headed at times, and often butts heads with the captain when she believes her solution is better. They have a love-hate relationship where they both respect each other and can rub along quite well, but often find themselves argueing. The captain reserves his favourite insult - 'damned woman' - especially for Keller.
Keller enjoys playing basketball and has rigged up a net in the engine room storage bay.
Captain Shanran Dak frowned and punched a button next to the speaker. “Dammit Keller, could you try not to scrape the paint quite so hard next time?” he growled into the microphone headset he was wearing. “She gets enough battering through the asteroid belt without you adding more dents.”

“I’ve told you before, Captain, I’d have no problems fixing the dents up if you’d get me a proper repair kit,” Keller replied. “Besides, don’t blame me – you were steering,” she added.

Dak scowled at the speaker and swore under his breath as he punched buttons on the control panels to shut down the ship’s engines. “Damned woman, got an answer for everything,” he muttered.

Inspiration & character creation: I really don't know how I came up with Keller's first name. It just popped into my head one day when I was thinking about Star Trek - I know, geeky, sorry! Her last name came from the 'star anis' plant.
Her original incarnation was as a half-Betazoid half-Romulan counsellor in the 27th century in a Trek fan-fic, which was never designed to be read by anyone other than me. I didn't really flesh out her character very much to start with, although she's always had a stubborn streak. When I started writing Alive! I was looking for a strong female character and she came to mind. A few tweaks later and she appeared in current form.
The quote above was actually the first line I ever wrote for her in Alive! and once she'd said that it helped set her character even more for me.
I think Keller is now one of my favourite characters - strong, clever, argumentative, stubborn - and I'm looking forward to exploring her more as the story progresses.

Some inspiration

I came across a couple of really good reads on the net this week that I wanted to share. The first was a page of tips for writing fiction, put together by successful writers and published in The Guardian.

The second was a blog post about what expectations people have of writers and whether they're reasonable or not. Bottom line? Writers need a break sometime, so don't be afraid to take some time away from your writing if you need to to avoid burning out.

Friday, 19 February 2010

Writing with no idea where it's heading

I've started several new stories this week but have no idea where they're heading or what they'll turn into - if anything.

Well, that's not strictly true. One of them is going to be a short story about a teenage werewolf and her (yes, I said her) boyfriend, and I've got that pretty much mapped out. Now I just have to sit down and write it. If it turns out well then I might submit it for an anthology - I know Wyvern Publications is going to be doing a Fangtales anthology next year about creatures of the night, vampires and so on.

The other ideas aren't anything like as developed.

Oh well, on with Alive, where Dak is about to find signs of sabotage and Macintyre's tracking an odd smell...

Monday, 8 February 2010

Postcrossing - bring back snail mail!

Postcards ExchangeI've joined in with the postcrossing project, which seems to be gaining popularity with a lot of young people across the world. The project is very simple - sign up, get an address from the system, send a postcard. Once the other person receives the card they can post a picture of it on the postcrossing site so that other people can see it. And of course, you get postcards from all over the world as well.

This doesn't really have a lot to do with writing a suppose, but I find thinking about other places helps inspire all sorts of settings for stories, and reading letters from other people does give insights that can help flesh out characters.

And it's fun!

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Writing stories for

Where do you get ideas from when you're writing stories, either fictional or features? This week I've been challenging myself to write 20 stories for and I've been finding story ideas in the most unusual places.

I've recently finished an Open University course in archaeology, and I suddenly thought 'if I've spent all this time researching and reading about the history of these cities and cultures, why not put that to use?'. The result was a raft of stories on Anyang, Meroitic religion, the Aztec empire, Rome and Teotihuacán. A few years ago I studied medieval history as well, so that gave me materiel for two more articles on 14th century women.

Other ideas come from people I talk to. I recently met a man who is a volunteer 'ancient tree hunter', which made a very interesting interview. Other people I know keep tortoises, make jewellery, own sheep and recommend hydrotherapy for their dogs, so that produced another four articles.

Another article came from a survey I read on healthcare myths that pregnant women believe, which I used as a basis for a healthy eating article.

My other four recent stories came from me. I'm involved in Guiding, which is celebrating its centenary this year; I like making things and I was looking into different styles of rag rugs; I've recently started playing Star Trek Online; and I was looking for story ideas.

And in case you'd like to read any of the stories, they're here:

Keeping Track of Your Tortoise
Anyang - The Last Capital of the Shang Dynasty
Hydrotherapy for Dogs
Etiquette when Visiting Farmland
Generating Feature Story Ideas
Meroitic Beliefs and Religion
Politics and Religion in the Aztec Empire
The Expansion of Rome
British Women in the 14th Century
The Religion of Teotihuacán
Women in the 14th Century
Rob McBride - The Tree Hunter
Healthy Eating for Mums-to-be
100 Years of Guiding
How To Make a Rag Rug
A Guide To Jewellery Making
A Guide To Star Trek Online