Wattpad has been the home for my stories for the past couple of years. However, as I’m now participating in the KDP author program on Amazon, I’ve had to strip them down to sample chapters. Hannac will be coming down tomorrow (Tuesday 5th May) so I thought I’d just take this opportunity to thank all the great writers and readers on Wattpad who helped me with advice, critique and encouragement.
I see publishing on Wattpad as a collaborative effort. This is because whenever people comment, critique or make suggestions it gives writers the opportunity to introduce plot changes, to test out new ideas and to improve their story-writing skills. Hal and Hannac would have been completely different books if it hadn’t been for all the contributions made by other people on Wattpad. So I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped me. If I miss anyone out, please forgive me! And let me know.
Massive thanks to @RobMay and @VictorBruneski. Both of you guys started reading Hal when I first posted it on Wattpad in spring 2013 and it was your encouragement which persuaded me to continue here. You’re always positive about the aspects of the story that you like and you never hold back if something doesn’t work. And I firmly believe that it’s books like Dragon Killer and McConnell House which really raise the bar for other writers on Wattpad.
I’d also like to thank the queen of critique herself, @WyldPatienz. I always feel ashamed about my own half-assed comments on other people’s work because you put so much time and effort into critiquing. The ideas and dialogue you’ve shared with me have been invaluable. And I have to admit the gritty realism of your own writing has definitely rubbed off on my own. Of course, there’s not quite so much blood-letting, gore, vomit and angst in Hal as in The TwiceBorn. But it’s getting there 😉
On the critiquing front, I also have to say huge thanks to @marchmccarron. It was one of her suggestions which totally transformed the final chapters of Hannac. And I think she’s finally persuaded me that those POV switches are really not working. So I’ll be going back through both books and fixing those + cutting out the large sections of exposition in the first chapters of Hal. I have to recommend March’s book Division of the Marked – it’s high-calibre fantasy writing.
So many people have offered me great insights, suggestions and encouragement:
@Aecnboo, @AgnesdeOcampo, @amandakherron, @amyryde1, @AndiMartinez3, @Aradarian4, @ArtIsMe, @ashonion, @Avylinn, @Avengingnerd, @booksxbooks, @becam24, @bkaur2186, @chacehuffman, @charleshaywood33, @cashmanga, @DallasCabiad, @DeanCMoore (for some fantastic critique and for sharing his own work), @DebbieRenzi, @dolly_gem (for the kind words and encouragement), @EeNz04, @EliSmith9, @ElizabethSumner (for reading the first draft and then looking at me as if I were mad), @Emanon_01, @Essibua, @EyeBags12, @FlashReader, @Frazzer (for making sure Apolle’s side of the story isn’t missed out), @frogonwheels, @9496222gaby, @Galabitorix, @gqfromme, @graeme11, @greendrake1, @gummiebearsyo, @halloweennights (for wonderful words of encouragement), @HarryMcAdam (for such kind comments), @h0n3y5un5h1n3, @horseloverperson, @hey-its-bat-girl, @idobelieveinfairies1, @iiitiii, @IJustGotPaid, @IllusionistsFolly, @imdbadass, @InfiniteSkies, @jainpiscean, @JayVictor, @JoannaSweet, @joeyzach (for involvement and encouragement. Hope you’re still around, Joey), @JohnGunningham (for such extensive critique), @JWPThackray (for the advice on duelling and for sharing your own wonderful stories), @karimdar, @KatieRhodes3, @kaylaes52, @kazaluv, @kissnthel, @Kystra, @Lazarus, @leftybeme, @lilchicken11, @littlebudveisser, @Lookatthat, @maddyXP, @madeleine_smith, @MaxLambon, @MaryanneVivian, @MeaganHarris, @MegHuxley, @Melanctha, @MidsummerCrimson, @Mighty658, @MiriThompson, @Modestnotamouse19, @mooniva, @Narelon, @NatashaPutter, @NellyHernandez, @NickHanson3, @OfficialCriticReview, @OriginalAubrey, @outaprintwriter (for the interview opportunity and for sharing your own beautiful stories), @Pantuteros (for the no-holds-barred critique), @p-dop12, @potato_lover_YA, @PrincessKyrissaen, @radar67, @ramior0221, @reconis, @RedWritingHood09, @Revi11, @rmpalmer, @RobinFinesilver (for enduring my endless self-promo tweets), @Romantic26, @SallySlater (for encouraging and for the recs), @sandyboy2412, @SarahBatt, @sasa_lee, @scintillator (for giving me great encouragement at the start), @SentofOsiris (for the amazing pics), @SHACIA, @Shadowskill, @ShadowWalker4, @ShockedSunglow, @SilverStonexx, @smaoineamh, @SMC_Scookie (for a fantastic critique of chapter one), @SoldierofSodom (for great music tips and the enthusiasm), @stacy_sheen, @tahilah, @TessPimsner (for reminding me of my age ;)) , @TheAlias, @thekels, @TheMaskedCritique, @TheOrangutan (for great support and help with the featuring), @thewolfandthemoon (for some truly encouraging comments), @tjgarrett (for helping with the hook), @UnknownPoet, @valdave123, @VengefulAkiri (for so much enthusiasm and excitement), @Viperbigdog, @waraiseirei, @WarriorPrincess1000, @williew, @Willow105, @WinnipegWhiskers, @Words_are_Weapons (for great critique and for Scottish independence ;)), @Yisabis, @YzabelGinsberg (for great dialogue on all things literary) @LukeFranceMontgomery for the kind comments 🙂
I’m not too sure where the ideas for Hal came from. I suspect they were just lurking around in the murky depths of my subconscious and I decided to get rid of them by inflicting them on other people. But some elements of the story have a very clear link with things I’ve read or with places I’ve been to. If I could, I would rather have written this story as historical fiction. And in fact, there is a precedent for female duellists – particularly in French history. In particular, the 17th century opera singer Julie d’Aubigny had a reputation for being a real wild child – duelling, drinking and hopping into bed with men and women. The problem was that even that historical context didn’t quite fit the story I wanted to tell, which is why I decided in the end to work with a fantasy world made up of a range of different historical periods. So there’s a bit of 17th century France in there, but there’s also a bit of Norman feudalism, Ancient Rome, Anglo-Saxon England – it’s basically a mix of eras and epochs.
Because Hal is so unpredictable, I needed to fix her up with a lover who is a bit calmer, cooler and at the end of the day more sophisticated – hence Meracad. But very often characters were just a means to an end – so it’s not that I wanted to create a character with a particular personality, more that they had to fulfil a specific purpose in the plot and their personality came afterwards.
As for places, I felt like Colvé had to have more of a French/Italian feel to it and the North (Hannac/Dal Reniac) had to feel more like the northern parts of the British Isles. I set Hannac on a moor-swept plateau as this reminded me of the part of England that I’m originally from – the Peak District. However, the idea for the Eagles’ Nests came from a defensive chain of forts in southern Poland which are called Orle Gniazdo – The Eagles Nests – and are a series of castles built of limestone. Some other Polish elements in the story are of course people’s names – Magda, Marta and Marec are all Slavic in origin and Pæga’s guards, who I based on the Polish-Hungarian hussars.