The Writing Life of: Nick Bryan
This week on ‘The Writing Life of:‘ I am thrilled to be interviewing author Nick Bryan. Nick will be sharing with us details of his writing life, telling us all about his latest book ‘Blood Will Stream’, which was released on 3rd October 2016, and answering a few fun questions.
So without further ado I’ll hand you over to Nick
Nick Bryan is a London-based writer of genre fiction, usually with some blackly comic twist. As well as the ongoing self-published detective saga Hobson & Choi, he is also working on a novel about the real implications of deals with the devil and has stories in several anthologies.
When not reading or writing books, Nick Bryan enjoys racquet sports, comics and a nice white beer.
1) As a child what did you want to do when you grew up?
Writer was pretty much it from an early age, to be honest. Read a lot of books, wrote a lot of stories, annoyed my teachers with them. Later did a Philosophy degree, because my A Level English teachers didn’t get on with me. Bad choice, retrospectively.
2) Who were your favourite childhood authors?
The first book series I remember falling in love with were Redwall by Brian Jacques and the Jennings schoolboy japes series by Anthony Buckeridge. And then I went to an all-boys grammar school and discovered that the japes were a bit more violent in real life.
3) At what point in your life did you realise you wanted to be a writer?
Despite pining after it since primary school, it took until about sixteen to finally write something that wasn’t either vastly derivative or so terrible it could never be shown to another person. Not that I’d ever show you anything I wrote when I was sixteen.
Or before my twenties, to be honest. Maybe not even my mid-twenties.
4) How did you go about following that dream?
I wrote a lot of abortive novels and did a Creative Writing MA. There’s a disappointing lack of a clear career path for writing – you just sit and type for ages, then try and get someone to read it when you’re eventually done.
5) What is your writing day like? Do you aim for a certain amount of pages or words before you stop for the day?
My writing day involves going to a café to escape my own distractibility, or at least secluding myself on the sofa with an underpowered netbook that cannot run an internet browser.
I know roughly how much I can write in a period without abandoning quality control entirely – it’s about 2000-3000 words if I have a whole day, though I rarely do get a whole day to just crank on one thing.
So usually I try to get around that point and then stop, although as long as I feel like I’ve achieved something tangible, I don’t beat myself up too much. Some chapters are harder than others.
And once I’ve reached the editing stage, I really do just have to settle for knowing I’ve done something, as it’s frustratingly hard to measure.
6) Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
I’ve never written under a pseudonym, no – maybe if I ever move genre dramatically. If I need to keep the writing secret for personal reasons, I guess I’ll just change my legal name.
7) Do you have any strange habits before starting, or whilst in the midst of writing?
I tend to write in annoying procrastinatory spurts – I’ll be sitting in my spot in the café or on the sofa for about two or three hours at a time, and probably about an hour of that will be spent faffing – again, largely on the internet. In particular, getting started takes ages, I’ll worry I’m wasting the afternoon, then I’ll do most of the session’s work in about fifty minutes.
This may be less a strange habit and more an annoying one. For me.
8) Do you write longhand, typewriter, or on a computer?
I write on a computer, always have, and can even touch type. With two fingers only.
9) How many books have you written? Do you have any unpublished work?
I think I’m up to six unpublished novels now – so once my Hobson & Choi series gets two books longer, it’ll equal that amount. Out of those, there are… two I’ve made any effort to get published.
The other four – some written at a worryingly young age – have been sent to live on a farm.
10) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter who… wears pants? Like a lot of writers I know, I have a plan of all the main points, but leave the connecting tissue a bit vague to give myself space to discover as I write.
But I’d be lost without some broad plan, even if it occasionally changes as I go.
11) Do you read all the reviews left for your book(s)?
I still check my Amazon page every so often, though I attempt to heed the oft-repeated advice to not look at Goodreads as it isn’t aimed at me.
When I have seen negative reviews, I’ve employed the other common tip – go read some bad reviews of your favourite books, to remind yourself nothing is for everyone.
Concerning your latest book:
Hobson & Choi Book Four
Publisher – Createspace
Pages – 250
Release Date – 3rd October 2016
ISBN 13 – 978-1537304281
Format – ebook, paperback
“I used to think knowing people just by online handles was totally cool, but these internet murders might be changing my mind.”
After YouTuber GrazGrim is found dead in his locked bedroom-studio, the police are ready to write it off as a suicide.
The online fandom only have one chance for justice: John Hobson and Angelina Choi, internet detectives!
But can Angelina persuade Hobson to take the case on? And will anyone like what they find?
Blood Will Stream is the fourth book in this darkly comic London crime series. The detectives are back in whodunnit territory, revisiting their love-hate relationship with the internet.
12) How long did it take you to get from the idea’s stage to your date of publication?
The new book Blood Will Stream is the fourth in an ongoing crime series, about the locked room murder of a YouTuber. The concept for this particular case actually came to me while sitting on the floor in St Pancras station on a NaNoWriMo event in November 2014, just after talking to a friend about them starting a YouTube channel. Happily they are still alive.
So… two years between idea and release? Slowed down somewhat by arranging the publishing of books two and three, which both came out during 2015.
13) How did you come up with the names for your characters?
The two lead characters are Hobson & Choi, which is a terrible ‘Hobson’s Choice’ pun. Once that was in place, I just gave them first names that sounded right. I’m finally paying the pun off in the title of volume five, at least.
14) Can you give us an insight into your main character(s) life?, What makes them tick?
My lead characters are both consumed by self-doubt and uncertainty – just like everyone is, right? Detective John Hobson knows his own depressing background, which drives him to do both admirable and stupid things, while Angelina Choi doesn’t know hers, which has much the same effect. They bring out both the best and worst in each other.
15) Which was your hardest scene to write?
I naturally lean quite jokey in my prose style, so the final third of the books is usually the hardest, as I try to summon up real peril and imbue the ending with a little drama. The final confrontation in the new one is actually among the hardest, because there’s some serious stuff being dealt with.
And once it’s over, I defuse it with a joke, obviously.
16) How did you come up with the title of your book?
My titles are usually puns or double meanings, as they’re the highest form of wit. I’m still quite proud of ‘The Girl Who Tweeted Wolf’ for book one (which is about a girl, Twitter and a wolf), even though I had to lie in a dark room for about two hours to think of it. And then the backlash against books with ‘Girl’ in the title started about ten minutes after I published it.
Still, my titular character is an actual teenage girl, rather than a weirdly-described adult woman, which helps.
And ‘Blood Will Stream’ is actually a title I’m re-using from an old (pre-YouTube) short story I wrote about online-video-broadcast murder. Nothing better came to mind and it was too good to ignore.
17) Did you get a family member/friend to read your work before sending to the publishers?
I have beta readers, and would recommend them to anyone else trying to write. Feedback from someone outside your tortured mind is invaluable.
18) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I self-publish, so I sent the thing to a freelance editor, sorted out a book cover with my cover designers, then did an awful lot of HTML and Word formatting to get the ebook and print editions ready. Thankfully, I have a day job in IT so could do most of that last part myself.
19) What did you do once you had written the final word in your book?
Went to my writing group (Big Green Bookshop Writing Group in Wood Green, highly recommended if you’re in London) and took a victory lap over a drink.
20) What’s next for you, writing-wise?
Hobson & Choi Case Five! Nearly halfway through writing that, plus working on some comic scripts as a change of pace.
1) What’s your favourite food?
Biriyani. Combines so many great things in one easy-to-order package.
2) If you had a box of crayons and you could only choose one, which colour would you choose?
Red. Not actually my favourite colour, but I think I’d get bored of it slowest.
3) What movie could you watch over and over again?
I don’t like rewatching stuff too much, so this is actually quite hard.
Maybe Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind – good mix of funny, sad and weird. Probably keep me going for a while, though I’d eventually just snap.
4) What would be the top song on your playlist?
The Greatest Man Who Ever Lived by Weezer. For the same reason as the crayon.
5) If you won millions on the lottery, what would be your first purchase?
A damn holiday. I’ve been living in and writing about London for so long, I think my relationship with it is getting a bit weird.
6) A talking duck walks into your room wearing a baseball cap and sunglasses, whats the first thing he says to you?
“I think you might be on quack.”
You can find out more about Nick by visiting his website/social media sites below.