Wednesday, 8 December 2010

So Darren, why don't your vampires sparkle?

One of the GREAT things about the writing business is hanging out with your heroes. I'd like to take a small step back in time. Mind the kerb.
You know when you decide to do something new and there's the old saying If you want to build a better mouse trap, see how the original one works'. Or something. The point is there's no point in reinventing the wheel.
Jeez, that was a crap sentence, but you know what I mean?
So, I want to be a writer. How best to go about it?
I'm not talking just about writing words and sentences (like, duh) but making it into a career.
Here are the vague steps I followed:
1. Decide I want a career, not a hobby that pays. That means acting like you want to (say) retrain as a teacher, or accountant, or astronaut. That means study, putting in the hours and using your time efficiently (especially as writing is probably the most inefficient job possible. I don't know anything that generates so much discarded effort, except perhaps being president). Way, way too many people want their books on shelves,and frankly there's not enough room as it is. Not only are you competing against everyone writing now, but pretty much everyone who's written ever. That's over 2,000 years worth of writing from the best in history. Imagine wanting to be an interior decorator but having Michealangelo to compete with. Somehow your neat, pastel-coloured ceiling doesn't look quite so amazing, does it? That's what writing can feel like. Actually, I always feel a bit depressed when I think about it like that. Moving swiftly on...
2. Whose career do you want? Now it's nice to think "J.K Rowling's", and okay, yes, we all think that briefly, but in my choice I prefered those that have had a few more ups and downs, and still made it. It's character building and will offer greater inspiration in the long run. I picked Clive Cussler, Bernard Cornwell and Darren Shan. Cool heroes with historical mysteries, action and horror. These are the three aspects that appealed to me and helped me to decide the route to follow.
3. Why Darren? Firstly, his success is down to HARD WORK. Yes, he's amazingly talented but we can't all have that level of talent. But we can reproduce his effort. The guy churns out great books like some book-churning-out machine. He does tours, school visits, blogs in great depth and clearly has a mad passion for his job. I saw him do a presentation to a couple of hundred kids and decided that was how I was going to do it. Get them involved. Acting out scenes. Whip up a frenzy. His fans are mental for his stuff. Now that's the sort of enthusiasm you want for your writing, isn't it?
He doesn't sit on his butt when counting the money and tapping away. He gets out and about even now when, surely, his success would mean he doesn't need to do it anymore.
So it was a rare honour to finally meet him at Orlando. We had a bit of a chat and talked about my favourite book of his (The Thin Executioner) and how he was in Oman during the Gulf War when he was researching it. That Middle-Eastern atmosphere is the best thing about it and shows you how much stories are improved by real experience.
So, yes, if you are planning to crack the author mystery, you could do a lot worse than check out Darren.


Arya said...

Great post! (= But what if we want a career like yours, Mr. Chadda?

SarwatC said...

Oh don't. I've a terrible dread it's a blind fluke based on too much luck and that luck is going to run out in the next nine days.
Yes, I can be that specific.

Anita Marion Loughrey said...

How come you can be that specific?

SarwatC said...

It's a superpower I have.

Kate said...

I'm certain I'd just turn into a gibbering jelly if I ever met one of my literary heroes. :-)

And I sure your luck WILL NOT run out - I'm sending good luck boosting vibes over now...

Darlyn said...

Darren is one of the best! I read all his books in highschool and even now. Hope to see you in one of the best too.Which I can see you are on your way!