Five Questions for Authors – Rayne Hall

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RayneHall - Fantasy Horror Author - reduced size Portrait  by FawnheartHow did you begin writing? Do you remember the first piece you wrote?

I’m not sure if this was the first piece I wrote, but it’s the first I remember writing. This came about when I was about six. I had learnt to read and write when I was four, so the stories in the school book post no challenge. I read them all in one day, and was bored when we had to read them in class and as homework.

I told the teacher that the stories in the school book were stupid and I could write better ones. She challenged me to write a story, and gave me the topic: a letter’s adventures from writing to delivery. When I handed it in, she was startled that a six-year-old could write so well. Of course, she didn’t know I’d had the help of my older sister.

From then on, when she told the rest of the class to read one of the school book stories as homework, she often assigned me to write stories. Soon I learnt to do it without my sister’s help, and enjoyed it very much.

What have you written which makes you the most proud?

There are many pieces of which I’m proud. If I have to name just one, then I’ll say Storm Dancer. I’ve recently re-read this dark epic fantasy novel, and it held me enthralled, even though I’d written it myself and knew what would happen.

Do you have a particular process or approach when writing?

I enjoy writing early drafts by hand with coloured gel pens in lined hardback notebooks, but I do the bulk of the work on my computer. I alternate between letting my creativity flow with freewriting sessions and structured approaches such as checklists and worksheets. I rewrite and revise a lot, and I seek critiques from other writers.

Do you have a current project you’re working on or promoting?

I always have several projects under way, a major one – usually a non-fiction book or a novel – and several smaller ones, such as articles and short stories. This way, if I feel blocked with one project, I can switch to another one for a while.

My current main project is another book in the Writer’s Craft series, titled Writing Vivid Settings.

Other works in progress include a sequel to Storm Dancer and several horror stories.

With around sixty published books, there’s always something to promote. Right now, the focus of my promotions is the Writer’s Craft series: Writing Fight Scenes, Writing Scary Scenes, Writing About Magic, Writing About Villains, The Word-Loss Diet, Writing Short Stories to Promote Your Novels, Twitter for Writers, Writing Dark Stories, Why Does My Book Not Sell? Twenty Simple Fixes.

Among the fiction books, I’m mostly promoting Thirty Scary Tales which is available as a paperback and ebook.

What do you hope to achieve with your writing?

With my fiction, I like to entertain readers and make them think at the same time, inviting them to see new perspectives and reconsider their values. Many of my stories explore the boundaries between good and evil which are not always clear, especially when prejudice and hypocrisy come into play. I also want to show how we are not responsible for what fate deals us – but we are responsible for how we deal with our fate.

My aim with the Writer’s Craft series is to help writers become the best authors they can possibly be.

There are a lot of books and courses available at for novices, but once a writer has progressed beyond the basics, instruction is hard to find. At advanced level, there’s little guidance available for aspiring professional authors who seek to improve their mastery of the craft. I aim to fill that gap with practical books teaching professional techniques.


STORM DANCER Rayne Hall cover  11Jan13 reducedRayne Hall has published more than fifty books in several languages under several pen names with several publishers in several genres, mostly fantasy, horror and non-fiction. She is the author of the bestselling Writer’s Craft series and editor of the Ten Tales anthologies.

She is a trained publishing manager, holds a masters degree in Creative Writing, and has worked in the publishing industry for over thirty years.

Having lived in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has now settled in a small dilapidated town of former Victorian grandeur on the south coast of England where she enjoys reading, gardening and long walks along the seashore. She shares her home with a black cat adopted from the cat shelter. Sulu likes to lie on the desk and snuggle into Rayne’s arms when she’s writing.

You can follow here on Twitter http://twitter.com/RayneHall where she posts advice for writers, funny cartoons and cute pictures of her cat.

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Reposted: My interview with David J Pedersen

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20140811-144005-52805597.jpgThis interview was first published in February 2012, on my old blog.

Tell us a little bit about yourself e.g. where you live, family, occupation, favourite type of breakfast cereal etc!

I was born in Racine, Wisconsin and raised in Kansas City, Missouri. I’ve worked in sales, management and IT – which means I’m not good at anything but I can make a mess in lots of different places. My lovely wife and editor, Angie Pedersen, is a published author of three books about Scrapbooking. I have a 14 year old daughter and an 18 year old son. Right now I’m trying the paleo diet, so all cereal sounds really good!

How long have you been writing and what first inspired you to pick up the pen?

I’ve been writing stories since I was in grade school, and got the bug to write a novel in High School – but was never patient enough to do it. I’m not sure what finally made me turn the corner, if it was too much time in corporate America, or that I was finally mature enough to wait for the microwave to count all the way down to zero. Either way I’m glad I finally did start because I can’t seem to stop and I’ve got a lot of story to tell.

I see you’ve written a novel called ‘Angst’ – let’s hear the sales pitch for it!

Angst is a story about midlife crisis in medieval times. After turning 40 Angst believes that any chance of his dreams coming true are gone. He is an overweight, paper-pushing, magic-wielder. Magic is mostly illegal and because of this he is stuck in a thankless job. His friends have drifted apart, his marriage is on the rocks, and the only person who seems to care is the teenage princess Victoria. They have become the best of friends, which upsets his wife, and makes things worse with his boss, the Queen. Angst believes that if he had just been allowed to become a knight everything would have turned out better.

The world around Angst is tumbling into chaos. Once extinct magical creatures have begun to appear, they are invulnerable and they are hungry. After pulling the proverbial “sword from the stone,” an ancient sword so large people thought it was a statue, Angst discovers he can use it to kill these monsters. To rid herself of Angst, the Queen offers him what he wants the most, a title, possibly even knighthood. All he has to do is find the source of magical creatures. Angst uses this mission as a means to force his friends to accompany him, in hopes that it will pull them close together again. Unfortunately they don’t know how much danger they will be facing. While his friends may be too old and out of shape to be fighting monsters, Angst is driven to succeed so he can become a knight.

One of the great things about this novel is that it isn’t that traditional fantasy story of ‘a young man or woman filled with potential and seeking the path of greatness’. Angst is a guy who never found that path in his youth and has spent his life wondering why he never got the chance. When the chance is finally thrust on him, he finds that the grass isn’t necessarily greener.

Do you consider your work to be in any way autobiographical – i.e. are you facing the same mid-life crisis that plagues your protagonist?

One of my best friends from High School said reading the book was like spending an evening talking to me. While I’m not Angst, and most of the characters aren’t exact duplicates of friends and family, there are certainly more than a few similarities. I have tried to follow Mark Twain’s great advice to “write what you know.” As for a mid-life crisis, I guess it depends on who you ask. I will say that if going on adventures while being surrounded by attractive young women means I’m going through a mid-life crisis – then I’m in!

Why did you choose to self-publish rather than follow the traditional route of publishing?

There are lots of reasons I never submitted anything to a traditional publisher. The most important one was retaining control of the story and characters. I have no doubt that a publisher could make my story more sellable, but I know what I want my story to say and really don’t want anything or anyone cut out. For instance, there are things that happen in book 2 that may not be referenced again until book 6 or book 100. I want the flexibility to leave those plot points and characters in place.

I also enjoy the immediate gratification I’ve gotten from self-publishing. Writing your first book isn’t about money. Instead, my goals have been to entertain, write characters that people care about, and create situations that readers can relate to. And I love to hear that I have made someone laugh. I’ve been told that I’ve met many of those goals, and I feel great about it.

How important is social media in the marketing/promotion of your work?

To this point it has been everything. Most of my marketing and promotion has been done through Twitter and my blog. I never thought I’d say this, but I love Twitter. It’s a great way to find an audience, and network with other writers. I’ve met some amazing people and have gotten some great feedback. The interaction is both fun, and really makes me want to write more.

What’s the most challenging aspect of being a writer?

I want my books to be easy to read, entertaining, and relatable while at the same time being clever enough that you don’t always know what is going to happen. Readers who reviewed Angst enjoyed some of the twists and turns of the story. I’m proud of my first book and am striving to make the sequel, Buried in Angst, as good, or better than the first.

Do have a strict writing regime or is your creative process fairly relaxed?

Not really – my schedule is crazy full so I fit writing time in when I can. I try to schedule writing after work 2-3 days a week and feel pretty good if I get one day in — I usually hide at a bookstore with my netbook and throw up a few pages while listening to various soundtracks. Then I’ll edit and rewrite the mess a couple of days later at home in the evenings before handing it off to my wife for editing.

What genres and authors do you enjoy reading?

It’s unfortunate that my reading time is my writing time (and my family time, and my exercise time, etc). I mostly enjoy fantasy and science fiction, but if I don’t have a lot of time to read I’ll pick up a comic book. I’ve really enjoyed DC Comics’ New 52 soft reboot lately.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Write! More than anything you need to write. Write lots, write little, write poorly – it doesn’t matter. Every time you write it is like exercising a muscle; your writing will improve and so will the creative process.

David J Pedersen is the author of “Angst”, available on Kindle and Nook, and other reading devices. He regularly blogs at http://gotangst.blogspot.com/