John, you’ve written a great novel, could you briefly explain to a potential reader what Full Wire is?
Full Wire is a sci-fi thriller. It’s a story of unrequited love in an age of transhumanism, set against the backdrop of a crime which takes place in London, in the year 2186. Its key themes are the effects of technology upon society, and our perception of things like love, trust, and reality itself.
Where did the idea for Full Wire came from?
I was planning a kind of music review blog, set in the far future where people routinely have all kinds of bodily augmentation. There was no plot, the idea being that the vision of the future would be drip fed during the picaresque adventures of these transhumans. When our daughter was born, my partner suffered heart failure, and the blog was scrapped entirely – all 20,000 words of it.
I began to think about organ cloning and how amazing it would be if a new heart could simply be grown for her. I found myself wondering whether any of it was actually happening, and we were all just in a terrible dream. At nights, with our baby daughter sleeping on my shoulder, I picked up my phone and tapped out what would become the first draft of a novel, and it developed rapidly from there.
Can you tell us about your experience writing your novel?
I already had many of the characters from the music blog, and it sounds like a cliche but they began to develop themselves. However, it was when the character Maclise showed up that the plot really got going. He’s so enigmatic and mysterious, and I spent a lot of time with him. I imagined myself interviewing him!
I planned the whole thing from start to finish, before sitting down to turn what I’d done during those nights with my sleeping baby into something coherent. I actually wrote the whole synopsis and took that to my writers group before I’d written most of the novel. I think I write best when I know where I’m going. As my partner will testify on our travel experiences, I don’t like not knowing where I am.
What made you start writing or want to write a novel?
I started in my early teens playing in bands, writing songs and lyrics, which turned into poetry and little stories. I’d write at night in big A4 scrapbooks, all these sketches and vignettes, peppered with crazy pictures I’d cut from magazines. I even wrote down my dreams. At college, the students were given some short story exercises which I absolutely loved doing. One of these developed into an idea for a novel which I eventually wrote a considerable amount of, but honestly it was so dreadful I didn’t write much at all after that. Still, my writer’s brain was steadily tapping away, making notes, writing down ideas etc. Eventually, the urge to get some of these ideas down became too strong to ignore, and I started writing again. I found myself writing short stories which ended up being published and longlisted in competitions. I thought to myself “I can really do this!” and that gave me the impetus to finish Full Wire.
What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a writer?
Self motivation. Because I feel more comfortable writing at night, finding the time to write hasn’t ever been an issue. For me, the hardest part has always been just sitting down and getting it done.
What do you think of the publishing industry and its processes?
Reading takes time, therefore publishing takes time. The big agencies receive something like 30,000 submissions a year. It can’t be easy having to sift through all of that, but as writers we have to submit if we want to get anywhere. In October I received a rejection from a piece I’d submitted in January. It’s just what it is.
What I’ve learned about publishing so far is to never give up. Opinions are highly subjective from one agency or publisher to the other, but eventually, if you keep going, and with a little luck, you’ll find a home for your work.
Why have you chosen Indie Novella?
From the moment I was contacted by Indie Novella, it’s been a pleasure. They’ve shown real enthusiasm for myself and my novel. Also, because of their collaborative nature, I’ve learned a great deal about how to prepare a manuscript and produce a book.
What advice would you give new writers?
Read. I can’t emphasise this enough. If you want to be a writer, then you have to read a lot, and not just within the bounds of whatever genre you are writing. Read widely and write a lot. There’s no other way to hone your skills as a writer.
When you’ve got something you’re happy with, submit it. Don’t be afraid of rejection, because that’s just part of the process, and don’t be afraid of others critiquing your work. When you receive some positive feedback, or have a piece published, it’s a fantastic feeling.
The single best thing I ever did for my writing was to join a writers group. Without them, I would never have had the confidence to write and submit short stories, and I would never have completed Full Wire. Their feedback and encouragement has been incredible. I say this as I’m preparing to present the synopsis of my second novel to them – which is currently running at twice the length of Full Wire – so we’ll find out shortly how far that enthusiasm actually goes!