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Author Interview: Graeme Cumming

Author Interview: Graeme Cumming

Today I am pleased to welcome Graeme Cumming on to the blog with a quick interview! He’s come up with some brilliant answers!


Q&A

What is your favourite thing about writing books?
Good to start with a tough one! There are several things that excite me about writing. I love creating characters, giving them life – even the minor ones. Recently I introduced a character who appeared for only a few pages, but I really enjoyed making him stand out through his dialogue. I also love working out how to lead readers up the garden path. As most of my stories take place in a fictional setting, I suppose the thing I love about writing boils down to: the opportunity to create something no one else has.

Who is your favourite character in your book and why?
Ravens Gathering has a range of different characters and, like real life, none of them are simply good or bad. It’s tempting to say Martin Gates is my favourite because he’s the most ambiguous when it comes to whether he’s a good or a bad guy. Then there’s Ian McLean, but probably because he and I share more traits – though I’ll leave it to the reader to work out which ones. Of them all, I suspect Tanya’s the one I’m happiest with. Perhaps it’s because reader feedback suggests I did a good job of creating a realistic female character. I think it’s hard to convincingly depict characters of the opposite sex, so it feels like I achieved something meaningful.

What is your favourite drink to consume while writing?
Most of the time, it’s water. I do drink a lot of water. I don’t really like tea that much and can’t stand the smell of coffee (I know! What’s wrong with me?). So hot drinks don’t tend to feature in my life.

Do you have any bad habits while you’re writing?
I suspect my bad habits are not unique and revolve around procrastination. That’s particularly true when I’m starting out with a story. And these days there are so many procrastination tools – largely social media based! Fortunately, that does ease off as the story progresses.

How do you research your books?
We do live in the Golden Age of Google when it comes to research. The Internet feels like a bit of a cheat, but it does save time.

That said, when I’m writing about real places I do like to visit them to make sure I’ve got them right. Google Maps and StreetView can help, and I’m not averse to doing that to double-check things, but there are some places you can’t get to that way. For instance, when writing Birth Rights, I included a boat chase on the Beaulieu River. I’d been on it before, but never at the helm. A few months before I started writing the first draft, I hired a boat and motored up the river to get a better feel of the water and the surroundings. By doing that, I hope I’ve made that sequence much more realistic.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Plotter. I like twists and turns in my stories, but I want the reader to think back and realise the clues were there all the time. When I wrote Ravens Gathering, I took a week out to plot it before I even wrote a word of the novel. By the time I’d finished, there was a chapter plan as well, which made it a lot easier to write.

If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose and why?
Another difficult question because I don’t have any desire to live in a fictional world. The real world isn’t perfect, but I have to say I’m quite happy living where I am at the moment. A warmer climate all year round would be good, but you can’t have everything. That said, who wouldn’t want to live on Tracy Island?

If you could befriend any fictional character, who would you choose and why?
The most interesting characters in fiction are rarely people you’d want to associate with. A favourite of mine is Nicholai Hel in Trevanian’s Shibumi, but hanging out with a retired assassin might be a little too nerve-wracking. Similarly, Flynn Patrick O’Flynn from Wilbur Smith’s Shout at the Devil is larger than life and entertaining to read about, but you couldn’t trust him, and I’m not the drinker I used to be.

So, I’ve plumped for Al Giordino, sidekick to Clive Cussler’s Dirk Pitt. Pitt is the one who leads the life of adventure. Giordino only goes along for the ride some of the time. So, I’d get the benefit of the banter and hearing the stories they have to tell whilst being slightly more removed from the action. (I’m happy to write about this stuff, but I don’t want to live it!)


About the Book

As she let her gaze drift around her, she saw that there were more birds. Perhaps a dozen or so, perched among the trees that stood on the edge of the clearing. And yet more were arriving, swooping down through the gap overhead and landing on branches that overlooked them. The birds weren’t threatening, yet the sight of them all coming together in this dark and isolated spot was unnerving. Tanya reached a hand out towards Martin, and was relieved to feel him take it. She felt him move in behind her. After the uncertainty she’d experienced with him in a similar position only a few moments ago, she recognised the irony of her reaction. His closeness offered security.

“You know what they are, don’t you?”

A stranger’s arrival in a small village coincides with a tragic accident. For the Gates family in particular it’s more than a coincidence, but unease increases following a brutal attack. As tensions rise, a dark past returns to haunt them and others, while newcomers to the village are drawn into a mystery with terrifying consequences.

And only a select few know why the ravens are gathering.

About the Author

Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country. He has wide and varied tastes when it comes to fiction so he’s conscious that his thrillers can cross into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as more traditional arenas.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.

Website. Facebook. Twitter.


Would you want to be friends with Al Giordino?

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