Sunday Surprise

d40388e226a77c7ce70c8ceee77644540f223979_resizeAnd it’s another Wyrd Worlds author! Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome back Neil Shooter!

Where do you live and write from?
I live a quiet suburban life not too far from Toronto. Far enough away, you might say. I love the hilly rural region to the NE of the city, and I love that it is accessible to me “at this end of town”.
I usually write right here, on my couch, laptop on my, well, lap, and clicking away incessantly. But sometimes it just feels better to have good old pen and paper, and then I can be anywhere: front porch, back yard, lake front park, coffee shop, passenger seat, bed, kitchen table, toilet, or, indeed, right here on my couch.
When did you start writing?
I can’t remember when I started writing, because it’s something I remember doing, and enjoying, since I was very small. I didn’t pursue writing seriously, because it seemed to me that I was supposed to get a degree, and a job, and a house, and a car. But that kind of life was never suited to me, nor I to it, and I would find myself scurrying outside on my breaks to jot down a few words, or running to the washroom with a scrap of paper hidden in my pocket and my trademark pen on my ear (a habit carefully cultivated so as to never draw suspicion).
When I finally realized I had my priorities wrong, I made sweeping lifestyle changes, and began self-publishing. I still have to work for a living, mind you!
What genre(s) do you write?
I write science fiction or fantasy, or some combination of the two. I am very disappointed by the science accuracy level in most science fiction movies, and so I have always strived for realism in all my writing. Even if there is magic, or super alien technology, people are still people, and the world still has to be internally consistent.
The simple modern world usually fails to grasp my imagination, and so very little of what I write is set in the real world of today. I’ve tried to expand my horizons, but not with any great success. I simply enjoy what I enjoy, I suppose.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
I find inspiration all the time. If I’m without pen and paper, I can make notes on my phone, but usually I am prepared. The down-side is that I can’t read anything without finding inspiration from it. Or watch anything. Put me in front of a documentary, and I’ll be scribbling away, taking notes like in class. Even dramas can trigger something. Most of my inspiration, though, comes from things that I read, from news, to surfing the internet, to novels, to the local newspaper. You never know when it will strike!
I’ve been looking through a box of 25 year old newspaper clippings, and some of them are real eye-openers. Yes, I’m the kind of person who can move from one continent to another, and still manage to bring boxes of newspaper clippings with me…
There is a little bit of me in every story, I must confess. There’s also a little bit of the people I know in every story. My own emotional experience can illuminate a character, and I’ve always been good at playing devil’s advocate, or seeing things from other people’s point of view.
Do you have a specific writing routine?
One day I hope to have that luxury, but right now I have a day job that pays my bills. That said, I have a gentle start to the day, browsing news stories, doing some light research, or noting down an “important” dream. Almost every day I have the chance to sit for an hour or two by myself and just focus on the ideas in my head. I enjoy having the kind of job where you can let your mind wander to an extent. For me, this mental calm of being physically occupied contrasts nicely with the focus of reading and writing. The trick is to be able to remember your train of thought hours later when you have opportunity to get things on paper!
I’m more creative at night, I suppose because of a day’s worth of thoughts bubbling about in my brain, unless that time of day is simply the time that everything else has been done, and I can sit and think? I like silence, or occasionally some soothing mood-building music.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I think I’d be a fast writer if I simply had the time, or the opportunity, to write more, but on average I’m quite slow. I’m kind of hot and cold, because no two days follow the same schedule.
I find that improvising gets me a certain distance into a story, and then I get lost. But on the other hand if I plan everything out, it seems to take all the juice out of it. I’ve been trying to find a kind of hybrid way of doing things, so that there is enough of a framework to keep me going in the “right” direction, but enough for me to discover as I go that I stay interested! I’ll let you know if it works out.
Tell us about your latest book
My latest story was “The Visitor”, published exclusively in the “Wyrd Worlds 2” anthology, but it will also be in my “Annual 2014” (hopefully in December 2014).
“The Visitor” is a mysterious stranger who loiters outside an average looking house on a cold, wet, and windy night. The house contains a visitor who must depart before the stranger can make his approach.
It’s a story about time, and family, and aspects of it are highly personal, but I still really enjoy reading it – and that is how I judge my own stories!
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
To be honest, I’ve never tried traditional publishing, and I’m not sure if that is a strength or a weakness on my part. I’ve also never tried a “Small Press” indie publisher. I’ve chosen to self-publish on the internet in order to retain control over my own work, but I wonder if a set schedule and an advance might spur me on?
The hardest thing about self-publishing is finding people whose opinions you trust, who can be proofreaders, beta-readers, editors, and artists. I’ve tried to be all of these things for myself, but, if my sales are anything to go by, I haven’t been very successful.
I think that is where the future of self-publishing lies: in the building of communities of authors who can help each other become better, and providing a framework for author-related services that, in a traditional publisher, would simply be done for you.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
Always! My third instalment of “The Causality Sequence” is called “Gravity”, and is still plotted out scene by scene, but remains half-written.
In a similar state is a new story called “The Edge”, which is about a pair of scientists running an astronomical array in the outer reaches of the Solar System.
And another new story that is probably near the top of the pile is not yet written, but buzzing around in my mind every day recently, is “The Linguist”. It’s about a translator called to a hospital to deal with a mysterious patient who speaks no English, and no recognisable language, but speaks something.
The story “The Kinnon Gate” is the beginning of a story called “The Last Bastion”, where a bunch of otherworldly heroes unite to defend the last human city in a world ravaged by war and destruction. I’m hoping against hope that this will be released some time in 2015!
There’s more, of course (there always is!), but these are the things you are most likely to be able to read any time soon.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is to write, to find time, every single day, to write something, while at the same time juggling my family and my life. Ideally I’d like to be fabulously wealthy, a man of leisure, and able to write as much as I wanted, but in the meantime, I do what I can (most of the time).
I’m trying to keep one eye on the things that distract me, that take me away from writing. Some can’t be ignored, like work, or sleep, but others can be shuffled, or moved around on the list of priorities. I have to figure out how to not feel guilty about sitting by myself while there are people who want to spend time with me. I suppose it’s all about finding the right balance!

Connect with Neil Shooter online




Also by Neil Shooter:

The Causality Sequence:

1. Causality (Causality appears in the anthology Wyrd Worlds)

2. Probability

3. Gravity (coming soon)

Homeless (Homeless also appears in the anthology Wyrd Worlds II)

The Visitor (Available exclusively in the anthology Wyrd Worlds II)

The Kinnon Gate appears in the anthology: The Battle of Ebulon

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