Tag Archives: writing

Q&A with Richard Dee

Andorra Pett

I am happy to say that I got to be part of the blog tour for Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe. Below I have a Q&A with the author Richard Dee, who was kind enough to answer my questions. Please keep an eye out for the upcoming review on Wednesday!

What is your favourite childhood book?

Once I learned to read, there was no stopping me. I devoured Enid Blyton, then I moved on to Narnia. I also read a lot of comics and graphic novels back in the day, it’s hard to pick a favourite, I think the Famous Five were the first to give me a love of adventure, particularly because the cast were ordinary people, thrust into unexpected things, having to use their wits to survive.

Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?

Lord of the Rings was a game changer for me, as was Dune. They showed that if you wanted to, you could create a whole world, or even a universe, complete in every detail. Everything worked and had a basis in logic; there was never a point when you couldn’t believe that it was all possible.

What’s your favourite under-appreciated novel? Tell us about it.

That’s tricky; I have to be careful in what I say here. I’m a huge fan of self-published authors, especially the ones that few people have heard of. I champion them whenever I can, people like Helen Hollick, Alison Morton, K.Y. Eden and James Mortain. They put in as much work as any big name author and deserve as much credit. There is so much good writing just under the mainstream

Which book was the first to make you cry?

Fluke, by James Herbert. I was expecting a horror story, what I got was…, well you should read it. I would be very surprised if you were not as moved by it as I was.

What would you think are the most common traps for aspiring writers?

With the rise in self-publishing, it’s easy to think you’ve finished a masterpiece and press publish before it’s really ready. Editing is so important, and you can’t self-edit! So is a proper cover and a good layout with a sensible font.

Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?

Perhaps you could say that it is, after all, you’re creating a world and you have the power to give life to it and your characters. You can just as easily destroy them as well but that doesn’t mean that I think I’m omnipotent. It’s an ability, like cooking or driving a lorry, you have to remember its limitations and the responsibility that comes with it.

When did you decide to become a writer?

I wrote a short story in 1979, and made it into a novel in 2013, so you could hardly say that it was a thing I rushed into. Life got in the way. When I retired, I kept having ideas and in the end, they got to the stage where I just had to start writing them down. One led to another.

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

I changed my surname; I thought that Richard Dee looked better on a book cover. My real name isn’t a secret, it’s just that you can hide behind the other one, to a certain extent.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

It would be very easy to jump on a bandwagon. I’d rather try to be a bit different, even if it means that it takes longer to get noticed. At the end of the day, I’d rather set the trend after next than hang on the coat-tails of the last big thing.

BIG 8-3

I have noticed that you write both standalone books and series. Which do you enjoy writing more and why?

I never meant to write series. That came about from reader’s comments, asking for more adventures or explanations. As I started to expand my stories, they almost took on a life of their own. The characters develop and you can see what they could have done, or will do. It’s great to think that people enjoyed a book enough to want to know more, that the characters engaged with them in some way. I do enjoy starting new projects, separate from my ongoing ones. But with all the sequels, prequels and spin-offs, it’s getting harder to find the time for new stuff.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your go to advice to overcome it.

I have several projects on the go at any one time. If ideas dry up for one, I switch to another. Illness seems to empty my mind of ideas, if I get a cold I can’t write.

If you could give younger self advice about writing, what would it be?

Don’t delay, I wish I’d done more writing when I had the time. I would be so much better at it by now.

Did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

I enjoyed the challenge of completing the first book so much and it opened a dam in my head. I started getting more ideas and I realised that I had to get organised to make the most of them. So it changed my habits, I carry a notebook around for plot suggestions, I listen to conversations in coffee shops and I pay more attention to the things I see.

What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

To be honest, I don’t plot my novels in detail before I begin writing and I don’t research until I have to! I get an idea for a plot and just start writing, creating the best setting to amplify the plot as I go. I try to make the setting another character, with its own emotions and relevance to whatever else is going on.

Research happens as I need to justify the things in the story. Everything I create is based on a known fact; I just expand or modify it to fit into the narrative.  In the case of my future universes, this means starting from a truth but blurring the point where reality and my imagination meet. In the case of my Steampunk novels; I tried to see how society could thrive without oil or electricity and where it all led.

In both cases, the results can be surprising. Once you get started on research, it’s a fascinating way to spend time. There is so much serendipity and unintended consequence in science; it’s amazing how we have got to this point. And who knows where we will end up?

Did you find it difficult to write from a female perspective in Andorra Prett and the Oort Cloud Cafe? Do you find it different from writing from a male’s perspective?

It seemed like a fun idea to try and write from a different point of view. It was a challenge and a way of stretching myself. To be honest, having a wife and three daughters helped me tremendously; parts of all of their personalities are in Andorra. They helped me see things from a female perspective.

How do you select the names of your characters?

I try and match the names up to the personalities, to give you clues as to what sort of people they might be. Having said that, you can also give good guys bad names, just to confuse matters. At the basic level, they have to be easy to remember.

Is there any part or scene you edited out of Andorra Prett and the Oort Cloud Cafe, that you wish you had included?

Andorra Pett was originally a short story, about a person who was running away from it all and went to the edge of civilisation. People suggested that I extend it into a novel. When I started expanding the short story, I had a whole load of ideas for things that Andorra could get up to. I soon realised that there were far too many adventures for one book, once again I seemed to have created a series. The sequel, Andorra Pett on Mars, is written and due to be published in April. The third book, Andorra Pett and her Sister is half written and will follow. I also have an idea for Andorra Pett takes a Break, goodness knows when I’ll get to it though.

8 x 12

What was the most difficult scene for you to write?

Action scenes are tricky, you need to pare the writing down to make it all happen at speed. At the same time, you need to keep the tension and realism. You have to make sure that you keep only the important things and ditch the waffle. It’s no good if the description of a thirty-second fight lasts for twenty pages.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are a lot of bits of information that allude to the second and subsequent books, they will make sense when you read them. I also scatter clues and red herrings in the background, in throwaway remarks or actions. Even though I think that I know where they all are, occasionally a reader will praise me for something that I didn’t realise I had said or got a character to do. Or they will ascribe a meaning to a section that I hadn’t considered.  It’s rather strange to be complimented for one of those.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

I love my readers, they may only be a small group (so far), but they are loyal and very complimentary. It’s thanks to them that I have series and their reviews that keep me going. They demand sequels and more information. One reader even has a crush on a particular character. It first I wondered if I wasn’t giving them enough, now I can see that I wasn’t giving them too much.

At the end I would very much thank you for taking the time to answer the questions and for the opportunity to review your book.

My website is www.richarddeescifi.co.uk, there are lots of freebies, extracts from all my work and a new post about writing, either mine or someone else’s, every week.

I’m on Facebook: RichardDeeAuthor

And Twitter: Richard Dee Sci-fi

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Cafe Full Banner

Andorra Pett and the Oort Cloud Café

Meet Andorra Pett; with her trusty sidekick, she’s taken over a derelict café. On a mining station. It just happens to be orbiting Saturn!
She’s hoping for a fresh start, away from all the drama of her old life. It’s a chance to relax and start again in a place where nobody knows anything about her or her past.

But the café holds a secret, and secrets have a habit of coming out; whether you want them to or not. And being accident prone doesn’t help. The more you try to pretend that you know what’s going on, the worse it gets.
Andorra’s plans for peace and quiet get lost amid the revelations and skulduggery and she soon realises that the fate of the whole station lies in her hapless hands.
In space, you can still trip over your feet; the question is, will you land upright?

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Author Bio –

AP - Richard DeeA native of Brixham in Devon, Richard Dee’s family left Devon when he was in his teens and settled in Kent. Leaving school at 16 he briefly worked in a supermarket, then went to sea and travelled the world in the Merchant Navy, qualifying as a Master Mariner in 1986. Coming ashore to be with his growing family, he used his sea-going knowledge in several jobs, including Marine Insurance Surveyor and Dockmaster at Tilbury, before becoming a Port Control Officer in Sheerness and then at the Thames Barrier in Woolwich. In 1994 he was head-hunted and offered a job as a Thames Estuary Pilot. In 1999 he transferred to the Thames River Pilots, where he regularly took vessels of all sizes through the Thames Barrier and upriver as far as H.M.S. Belfast and through Tower Bridge. In all, he piloted over 3,500 vessels in a 22-year career with the Port of London Authority. Richard was offered part time working in 2010, which allowed him to return to live in Brixham, where he took up writing and blogging. He retired in 2015, when he set up and ran a successful Organic bakery, supplying local shops and cafés. The urge to write eventually overtook the urge to bake but Richard still makes bread for friends and family. Richard is married with three adult children and two grandchildren.


She went quietly

Last spring I finally turned in my BA dissertation in creative writing, a year too late, but at least it was turned in.

I have had the piece I wrote lying around for a long while, and it is a piece I am particularly proud of. The piece is not written for an audience, it is not written for a reader to enjoy. This is the first piece I have ever written that was purely for me, to help me through a very though period of my life. This of course makes it very fragile and I was very hesitant to turn it as my dissertation, but I had great support from my mentor at the time who helped me shape something that was more a therapy session between me and the computer into a structured story.

After having the piece lying around for a long while, having a few friends read it, I have decided to put it out here. After all it is supposed to be a blog about writing.

The piece is called “She went quietly,” as a kudos to the song of the same name, She went quietly by Charlie Winston, which helped inspire the shape of the story. The song helped me through writing block when the story and structure had to take residence over reality.

So I have attached the story in PDF below if you want to read it.

She went quietly

Writing with depression and battling writer’s block

When you are a writer and you struggle with depression, writer’s block isn’t just writer’s block anymore. Writer’s block is something that can be easily swayed when you put your will to it; but when your writer’s block comes from depression it is significantly harder.
I have experienced this first hand. In the past I’ve had writer’s block, and I’ve dealt with it. The best way to battle a block is to just sit down and write. The last few years I have struggled with clinical depression, to a degree where I have been on medication. As I write, I do realize that this post should have been written in May, during mental health awareness month, but mental illness is here for all the other months too. For us all to help remove the stigma, we need to be talking about it, not only in May.

The problem with a Writer’s block when you are depressed, is that the will to something about it is far away. For me, writing has been a sort of therapy. My writing is where I write out my anger, my hatred. It is where I can be anything I am unable to be in my real life. Two years ago, I just stopped writing, and writing has been a constant struggle since, and my depression has turned worse. It is a downward spiral; I can’t write because I’m depressed, I’m depressed because I don’t write.
Because of my illness I was unable to finish my Creative Writing Degree, I had to defer my third year and will be doing it over this year. And I do claim to have all the answers to fix it (I’m still not writing the writing I need), because there is no magical cure and it might not get easier.
To battle the writer’s block, the first step is to realize what’s the problem. In my case depression is the reason or my writer’s block, and eventually the writer’s block became a contributing cause for my depression. It was already too late for me to turn things around when I realized this, a whole semester had passed and it was three months until my dissertation was due.
When you realize what the problem is, you can take steps to fix it. In the past my writing had always been linked to my reading. If I read a lot, I would write a lot. At my writing peak I wrote 5000 words a day and I read almost 100 books that year. It is my belief that all writers need to read. To quote one of my favorite Lannister: “A mind needs books like a sword needs a whetstone.”

I think what I am trying to say here is that it is important to see things in context. As writers we create context in all our little pieces of work, but while we are doing this we forget to take a look at our own, very real, life. So my advice would be: read wide,  read often, and read to expand your mind. Also, remember it is no shame in putting down a book that just doesn’t rub your back.

Five Elements of Efficient Writing

pen to paper

“Beware of advice—even this.”
—Carl Sandburg,

1. Main plot
When writing you should have a clear and manageable idea or plot. Without getting stuck in a box, you should know what you want to write and where you want to go. The plot needs to be clear to you. It is also important to think of subplots and link to the main plot. It is okay to stray from the plotline when you start writing, but it is important to have a good idea of what you want to write before starting.

2. Organisation.
It is an good idea to figure out how you like to organize your writing. There’s no correct way to write a novel, but you need to know how you write best.
Some writers prefer to write a book from beginning to end. Other writers like to start with the ending. Some pick and choose, and just write whatever part they feel like writing.
What is important is that you organize it in a way that you can cope with. What I would advice is to have a list of events or scenes which you know your novel will need. That way you will be able to notice it if you drift too far off track, besides keeping a list  will save you time later and help you battle writer’s block.

3. Limit research time. 
Okay, I know that fiction is fiction, but sometimes it is comforting to know that you are being accurate. When I write I like to do the research immediately when a problem or question arises. In a sense this means I am always doing research, and I lose a lot of time doing it.
Time spent researching is time you could have spent writing. This is why I would advice everyone to separate their writing and research time. When I do research mid-writing I don’t get back to writing that day. If some questions arise, write them down in a separate document (or if you have scrivener write it in the research folder) and research it when you have done your writing for the day/week. Remember, if you find a good source, write it down, save it. It will come in handy when you start writing query/submission  letters.

4. Expression, word choice and Point of View.
Language is clear, specific, accurate, and appropriate to the audience, purpose, and material. Every narrator you write will have different ways of expression and word choices. Many books feature multiple Points of View, and it is important to write in a way so your future reader can distinguish between narrators.
As an author your voice will always shine true, but after a while you should make word choices based on the character you are writing.

5. Grammar, spelling and formalities. 
Everyone make mistakes when it comes to grammar and spelling. In your first draft it’s not too important. Leave the tweaking for the editing process. Write when you write, if you strive for perfection on your first go you might end up never finishing anything.

Five Elements of Story

pen to paper

A story can be sorted into five important elements. These elements are necessary in order to give the story a drive and in order for the reader to get excited about and understand the story. The five elements are: Plot, setting, conflict, character & Theme (in either order).


The plot sets the action for the story. Often when I write I start with developing a plot. The plot needs to outline whats going down and what’s going to happen. What does your characters need to archive? How are they going to archive it, and what do they have to do to archive it. The plot is a series of events that will lead to the story’s conclusion.
Ex. a group of people stranded in the desert, they need to find shelter and ultimately they have to find their way out of the desert.


The conflict is a struggle in the plot. Often when I think of conflict I try to ask myself: “What is the worst thing that can happen now?” The conflict can be internal or external.
An external conflict come from outside the main character: anything from the action of another character (ex. a bandit shows up) to an environmental change (ex. a Sandstorm).
An internal conflict is a struggle inside the main character, often portrayed as a dilemma. (ex. if stranded for a long time the question of cannibalism might arise).


For me, setting almost always comes with the plot. The setting sets the scene, where are they, when are they? The setting should tell where the characters are situated: in a city, a desert, our world or a fantasy world. It should also answer what time period we are in, are they the past, in the present or somewhere in the future. This doesn’t have to be a definite answer, but the environment and the characters should reveal what time-period they exists in as the action will evolve different depending on where we are in time.
Ex. if the group in the desert are in the past they won’t have lighters (it gets very cold in the desert at nighttime), and if they are in the future they might replicators or other special gadget that will aid them (to create tension: find a way for the future tech not to work).


The characters carry out the actions. The characters could be anything, humans animals, dragons, depending on what kind of story you are writing. They can be silly, righteous, mean-spirited, funny or anything you’d like. Though there should be conflicting character-types.
When creating a character, try to avoid stereotype. In certain types of stories stereotypes can be entertaining, but mostly they are insulting and can seem like  lack of effort and imagination on the writers part.


The theme of the story is the main idea and it contains the central belief or topic of the story. It contains the idea that the author would like to convey to the audience.  The characters’ actions, interactions, and motivations all reflect the story’s theme. In order to find the theme, try to figure out what the story really is about.
Often the theme can be something abstract like: sacrifice, preservation of innocence, isolation or resurrection.
Moral is not included in this list, but the theme is closely linked with the moral a story tries to convey.

Just go for it!

pen to paperThis might seem like silly advice…“just go for it”, but when I speak to many aspiring writers, they say that’s the thing that they really needed to hear to give them the boost to at least give writing a try!

It’s very difficult to actually get started, I know. I had the idea for Lockdown rolling around in my head for a long time before I put the pen to paper. I wrote out plans, I brainstormed, I thought about plotlines, but I couldn’t actually work out how to just start. It was intimidating, what if I failed? What if I was rubbish at writing? Then my dream would be over, just like that. In the end, I spent far too much time worrying, and not enough time writing.

Then one day, I decided to just give it a go and now I’m so grateful that I did. Sure, my first draft might have been terrible, repeating things I forgot that I’d already written, missing major plot points that I’d intended to include, but I had something written down, something real to work from – and that was an achievement in itself. I’d worked out a basis for how I was going to get the story from beginning to end and that gave me the basis I needed to get the book written.

Of course, then the real hard work started. Then I needed to get everything right, I needed to make it flow, make it interesting – funny and gory in equal measures. It took a few times, a few re-dos. I even left it for a while, so I could go back to it with a fresh perspective and that helped me a lot because it meant I was looking at it without the tunnel vision that you get when working closely on something for a very long time.

Once I had the story written, and up to a standard I was happy with, I had to decide what to do next. I chose to send it out to a bunch of publishers because why not. I’d spent a lot of time on it, so I wanted to do something productive with it! I was expecting rejections – everyone will get them, you just have to be thick-skinned enough not to let it bother you (it’s the same for bad reviews – you will never be able to write something that everyone on the entire world will like because everyone has unique, individual tastes) and of course I got a few – but then I got offered a three book contract by Triplicity Publishing. Now my second book, Forgotten, has just been published and I’m working on the third…all because I gave it a go.

I guess I’m writing this because I want to give other people the advice that I wish someone had given me. Just go for it. You’ll never know if you don’t try and isn’t it better to fail than always wonder ‘what if?’ It may even lead to some really great things, so stop worrying, stop procrastinating and simply start writing!

By Samie Sands

Author bio: ‘Lockdown’ – the first book in the AM13 series – is Samie Sand’s first novel. That and the sequel ‘Forgotten’ have been published by Triplicity Publishing. She is currently working on the 3rd and final installment. Aside from her novels, she has had a number of articles published in e-zines including one of the most popular pieces in Zombie Guide Magazine. Samie has also had a number of short stories published in a wide range of very successful anthologies.

Time for a writing update

The last couple of time I’ve been very engaged in writing, but it hasn’t entirely been my writing because I’m co-working on a very ambitious project. The last two years has been used on writing drafts and rewrite drafts and define the dos and don’ts of our world.
However this project has now escalated into something ever more ambitious, since we have decided to take our writing into a hard-core fantasy setting. We are creating our own world with maps, religions, languages, countries and of course magic. So this is a very big and very ambitious project that easily can be dragged down into failure, but we are trying and we are working very thoroughly on it.

Many would probably argue that people who are not linguists should not create languages, but we hope to prove it wrong. But if the languages don’t work, it will be no problem with erasing them, they won’t be the key to the story.

Right now it’s the world map that we are working very hard on and it’s starting to get into some shape.

kart landegrenser

This is only a part of the world though, and the poles will be moved further south and north (etc.) and made smaller as we’re not done with the whole map yet. So there will be a quite a few changes to that map and it will be made bigger and another continent or so will be added.

What are you going to do with the rest of your life?

English: A pile of books, mostly academic/refe...

Image via Wikipedia

Isn’t that the question we are all asking ourselves? Isn’t it the question everyone demands an answer to? When we were small it was alright to say that “I want to be a fireman” or “I’ll be an astronaut.” But now people expect you to have all your cards ready and in front of you. They expect you to know what you want to do and that you have made a plan and know how to get there.

But seriously how can you know? And why is only some answers acceptable? I use to say that I’m going to be an author, and everyone expect me to have something else planned just in case I fail. Which has resulted in me attending a completely wasted year in college this year, not to mention my application for further education…. I’m just not going to talk about that now…

Believe me, I know that becoming an author and make a living of writing will be hard. I know it will take hard work and hours, I know I won’t get paid much and I don’t except to write a bestseller on my first try. It might take 20 years before I write something that more than just a few people like to read. I have never said that I’m going to get rich from writing because I know that it is very rare, after all I’m an avid reader and know about  a lot of authors and read their blogs and websites. Who is better equipped to be an author than an avid reader? The more you read the better you write.
But why do everyone feel the need to express how hard it is to become an author? Why can’t they just wish me luck? I’m well aware that writers don’t make much money, but I also know that if you keep doing what you love to do things will most likely work out in one way or another.

Writer Wordart

Writer Wordart (Photo credit: MarkGregory007)

Here’s a thing about me: I know that I’ll be a writer or I probably won’t ever get a job. I’m a dreamer. I live in my fantasy. I have to write or I’ll grow insane, I mean really inside. A week without writing for me and you’ll find me depressed or angry or deeply frustrated. A week without writing is like a year without rain: all the plants would die. Writing is what keeps me going, it’s what makes me tick.

I’m so much better in my imagination,
but I know I’m not allowed to live in it.
–Melissa Horn.

I feel really bad when I don’t write, I write every day. So yes, I’m going to write and read books for the rest of my life. Not because it’s a wise choice, but because it it what I want and what I desire. Writing is my life and my way of living. I just wish others could see that to, that this is important to me, that this is my life. No one is better equipped to decides the turns of my life than me.
In 2010 I finished my first novel (which I had been writing on since 2008), and I’ve been editing it since then, I got the patience it takes to be a writer and I’ve proved that I can finish a novel, I can finish another one. Then it’s just the business to be published (finding an agent/a publishing house) but I’m not in a rush so I’ll take my time.  But please, please, stop telling me to have a plan B because there is none, I never hear someone who wants to be a lawyer being told to have a plan B, respect my choice. Please.

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around…

Portrait of Roald Dahl

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…you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
By Roald Dahl.

Roald Dahl (1916 – 1990) was a British novelist with Norwegian parentage, he wrote many books, unfortunately I haven’t been able to read many of them.

This will be a very brief post as I should be writing on a letter to Trinity College in Dublin and revise my movie analysis for tomorrows English class at this very moment. Read more after the break →