I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Between Darkness and the Light and welcome Paul Mitchener with a guest post. Before I hand you over to Paul here’s the book info. It’s a young adult adventure published on the 14th March 2018 by Brown Dog Books. I love the cover!
A young, bored and confused teenager is thrown into an adventurous world that he believed only existed in books and dreams. Henry is destined to become the next Host Master and to lead the everlasting fight between the darkness and the light. The Wyvern, an ancient creature of mythical powers and defender of all things living, has to find a host to be able to dwell in this world. It chooses Henry. After his encounter with Bert and the odd dog Ben in the woodland, Henry s life would never be the same again: as well as finding his only true love, he s told that his mother and aunt had kept from him that they were creatures of nature and guardians of the woodland and commanded great powers. Henry has to find a way to grow up fast and find the strength to face up to both his own demons as well as those sent by the Shadow Master, a powerful sorcerer, who has the power and the aid from dark allies to destroy life and spread darkness across the world.
Paul’s guest post describes his writing process for Between Darkness and the Light.
For years, I dreamt of being a writer. I truly believed I had important things to say and that the world needed to hear it. But when I look back on what it really takes to become a published author, I realise how very different and difficult the process was from my expectations. I had to do some research on matters in which I knew little about, (more so with the sequel) but I wanted to write about places and characters I knew and of things I’m passionate about, conservation for example. I feel a good story should come from the heart and not the head, and if asked, I would always tell potential authors to write about things that matter most to them, in my case it took a form of a novel.
To begin with, I had no idea where to start, should I just sit down to write my book? Surely that’s how writing works, how wrong was I. But I was fortunate that I’d had a good protagonist for my novel, and in my opinion, all good stories should be about the protagonists, if you don’t have good characters in your story, then I believe you won’t have a good story. I also believe that the essential ingredient for every protagonist is that they must make good and bad decisions, or in my case, be led by fate into circumstances beyond their control. For example, my main character (Henry) didn’t really have any say in what happened to him, instead he was forced into a situation which eventually changed his whole life.
Once I had my main character I then had to place him into the story itself, but unfortunately, again, I had no idea where to start, so I tried to build and develop his character by placing him in a domestic situation. I know that this doesn’t sound too exciting, but it helped me to find the character that I was looking for. I was looking to develop my main protagonist as a moody teenager with no aim in life, so where better to start than at home. However, before introducing Henry to the story, I first felt it necessary to set the mood to my novel by introducing my readers to Sophia (another main protagonist) and try to set the mood for the book. I did this by describing her surroundings and then try to express to my readers how Sophia felt towards the world and fellow beings. Once I was happy that I’d had the mood of the novel I could then move on to develop the story.
Many web sites and authors advise writers to write down the plot of their story first in three categories, start, middle and end. For me at least, this would never work, I strongly believe a good story should be more organic, an author should allow his or her story to twist, turn and grow with the characters and allow the story to develop naturally, not try to stick to a program. I’m not a professional author, but I do have a passion for writing, even though I’ve suffered from dyslexia since childhood, books have been my best friends, and I find it easy to know which authors are passionate about their book and those who just turn them out for a living.
Consistency, this is an important aspect of writing that could be easily overlooked; I find being consistent in my writing throughout the entire story possibly the hardest part of writing. The only way I found it works for me is to keep reading back over my work; and on occasions I’m forced to change whole paragraphs just to maintain the consistency of my story.
I’ve always try to put everything I have into my writing, which I’m sure is the same for many authors, but I don’t believe readers realise just how much discipline it takes to start a novel and more importantly, just how much time authors have to put in to finish it, that is why I believe writing should be flexible. When I’m writing, I often have a break, maybe to walk the dog or make a nice cup of tea, and then sit back down with a fresh eye to read over my last work, this is where flexibility comes into play, more often than not, I would rewrite and at times delete my last work if I felt that it was necessary.
I was amused to read a comment on one writers web site, and I quote “writing a novel is like being an archaeologist, you dig and dig and then gradually unearth the story and the characters”. This is probably the best way to describe and sum up my method of writing, that said, I am always passionate about my characters and their location, flexible in my writing; but more importantly, true to the story.
I now live in a small picturesque village called Penton Grafton in Hampshire, which consists a large duck pond, a village green where cricket is played most Sundays during the summer and a 14th century church. Penton Grafton is about four miles away from our nearest large town of Andover. Andover is briefly mentioned in my book. One of seven children and a son of a farmer, I spent all my childhood playing in the countryside. I was born in the same house that my parents lived in for all their married life. Unfortunately, I had very poor education. That, added to the fact that I suffer from dyslexia, meant that I didn’t just struggle with the written word all of my life, but I also had to work twice as hard as others in many aspect of life. That said, I have never allowed it to hold me back from anything I wanted to achieve. I’m now retired but before that, I was a Managing/production director of company that made armoured and stretched luxury limousines for royals and dignitaries, mainly in the Middle East. I spent the best part of fifteen years travelling the world on business and met many of the royals as well as famous celebrities. Since retiring, I took a two year full time collage course in countryside conservation which is a subject that I’m very passionate about and despite my disorder, I achieved top grades and best student of the year.
Between the Darkness and the Light is my first novel but I’m now in the process of writing a sequel, my motivation for this book comes in two parts. Firstly, to become a published author has been on my bucket list for years now. I’ve always envied anyone who could write, especially writers like Terry Brooks, who have the skill to capture a moment in time and develop such interesting strong characters, so, I needed to prove to myself that someday I could write a novel. Dyslexia can be a very debilitating condition which is often overlooked, so I wanted to prove not just to myself but to others that suffer from it, that if they really worked at it, they could do the same and nothing should hold them back from reaching their own potential. I managed to achieve more than most and much more than I had hoped; but it has been a long hard uphill battle.
Secondly, I have a passion for nature and although my book is fantasy it is set in the here and now. The message I wish to get across to my readers (especially teenagers) is that we must start caring for the world in which we live. One of the main reason for choosing a teenager as the main character was to try and take others of the same age on a journey of discovery but with a teenage prospective, his first love, his new-found passion for nature and other living beings; but more importantly, discovering himself. What makes my book important to me are the characters and the location in which my book is set. Most of my characters are a mix of people that I know or have known in the past, although the people I know are interesting characters in their own right, it was fun putting them all in a mixing pot and creating new and more interesting characters. The location is set in and around the town of Whitchurch, an area where I was born and raised, the woodland was where I used to play as a child, there’re both places I still hold very dear to my heart.
The whole story of my book is set around one teenaged character (Henry Harris). Henry a confused, lazy and often very moody young man and now having left full education he has no idea what he wants from life. I’m sure most, if not all teenaged readers can relate to him, especially his relationship with his family. Henry eventually finds himself but only with the help, support and love from those that care for him most. The only message I wish to get across to teenagers is, that they don’t have to face life’s trials alone, if they have family and friends that love them and support them there is nothing in this world that they couldn’t get through.