In September I wrote about Following the Muse and not the Market, suggesting that as a writer I feel more inclined to write what I enjoy than what fills a market niche. I was recently thinking about this topic again and it occurred to me that my last novel, ‘Mesozoic’, very much illustrates that very point.
The whole idea for the book came from a friend, Leoni Roussau, who gave me the simple concept of scientists traveling back in time to studying living dinosaurs. From that one great seed of inspiration came an entire book.
I think that writing ‘Mesozoic’ was relatively easy because it involved several things that I was interested in to begin with. I read books from a very early age and looking back I can see that I had a preference for tales that involved adventure, preferably in exotic locations. I read the ‘Doc Savage’ stories when they were published as paperbacks. For those who do not know about ‘Doc Savage’ he was a crime-fighter from the 1930’s who lived at the top of the tallest skyscraper in New York. He inherited a vast fortune and dedicated himself to finding adventure and stopping maniacal super-villains. He used a series of remarkable gadgets to get himself out of trouble. By today’s standards ‘Doc Savage’ might seem a little naive but for a young lad they were lots of fun. That is what I remember most about reading books like that; they were fun.
As time went on I read more literary tomes and thoroughly enjoyed them, but I have always found that mixing a little light relief with the more heavyweight authors is perfectly acceptable. In fact, I found that it often helped me to appreciate written work even more because I was able to compare contrasting styles and understand the motives of the writers all the more.
For me, as a writer, ‘Mesozoic’ was a little light relief. Although I touch on some environmental issues in the book at heart it is an adventure story in the style of the likes of ‘Jurassic Park’ or ‘Raise the Titanic’ or even ‘The Last of the Mohicans’ and not a serious commentary on the human condition. The book did not require me to do a lot of in-depth research, unlike my ‘Sorrow Song Trilogy’ or ‘Eugenica’, although I did have to work to formulate a viable, hypothetically at least, method of time travel. The dinosaurs were not particularly difficult as I already had an interest and, therefore, a knowledge about them. My prime concern with the dinosaurs was to represent them as believable animals and not the monsters of the ‘Jurassic Park’ movies. Of all of my books so far it was by far the quickest to write and, I have to admit, the most fun.
I am not a full-time writer. I have a day job and I have a wife who likes to see and talk to me. Our children might be all grown up but they are still our children and still make demands on our time, as they have every right to do. These days writing even for the eBook market seems to require more and more time, not the actual writing part but the need to promote the finished book. I understand the argument behind this but the fact remains it is the writing that I enjoy. I would be greatly disappointed if all the fun was to be sucked out of writing. For me it is, I suppose, my hobby. It is what I do in my free time. I like the fact that at the end of it there is something tangible to show for my efforts. It has never brought me in any real money and I do not expect that to change really. I still love writing, however, if I have to spend more time promoting myself and my books than I do actually sat at a keyboard capturing my ideas and living in my imagination then I find it difficult to see why I should continue with it other than for my own enjoyment. I suppose that is the point. I am doing it for my own enjoyment and, hopefully, for the enjoyment of the people who choose to read my books. So long as the fun remains so will I.