Today we’re delighted to welcome supernatural fantasy novelist and West Yorkshire lass E. Rachael Hardcastle to the ideas4writers blog. Her box set Finding Pandora – The Complete Collection (Books 1 – 4) is out this week.
Naturally, we wanted to know all about her, her ideas, and her writing and publishing experiences, and to see if she had any useful tips to share. Here’s what she had to say:
How do you find and evaluate ideas for characters, plots, dialogue, etc?
It’s an overused response but ideas just come to me. Sometimes after watching TV or reading a book I wonder what new swing I could put on that premise, so I’ll write it down and explore it later on. I never base characters on real people – I like to let the characters develop into who they need to be and usually fill in a profile sheet (as seen on my blog) to make sure I cover everything.
How did you get your latest idea? What made it good enough to write about?
My latest idea came to me after watching Jurassic Park and reading a book called The Great Zoo of China. I wanted to explore the theme park idea further, where the guests have to escape for some reason. I know the idea is popular because the movies do well, and to the best of my knowledge the books have done well too, so I thought I’d note it down and brainstorm some ideas. I haven’t started writing yet, but I know it’s a golden nugget because it crosses my mind every day.
How did you expand the idea?
Use brainstorming and mind mapping ideas
Use story beats to note everything down and build a story/characters
Note down the cliches I wanted to avoid and why
Watched the movies, read the books etc for research and to see how I can make my story unique
How do you do your research?
I prefer to use reference books rather than the internet, though I do often mix the two. I write fantasy, so some of my research is on myth, legends, signs and symbols, etc, which is fun, so I don’t actually mind this part of the process. I then keep notes in a ‘story beats’ outline document in OpenOffice, which I refer to whenever it is needed. I tried Scrivener but haven’t yet made friends with it.
Would you be willing to share with us some of the ideas you’ve rejected?
I very rarely reject ideas, I just note them down for use in a future project. I think my advice would be not to reject anything because even if it has been used before, there’s always a new way to approach it. They say there are no new ideas and I believe this is true to some extent – it’s what you do with them that counts.
Which book marketing ideas would you recommend?
I offer free content to prove I am trustworthy and helpful. I think marketing can be creepy when you’re posting ‘buy my book’ on social media. Your posts will be ignored and you might lose followers by doing this. Post free content on your blog, helpful notes and resources, and then offer your book at the end. For example, you could advertise your book at the end of a YouTube video that is free and offers the viewer a solution to a problem.
How did you get published?
I self-published my work after coming close to traditional publishing and turning down two offers. I decided I wanted to be in control and give it a shot myself. That way, I could learn the ins and outs and possibly turn hybrid later.
Have you had any really bad/bizarre rejections or reviews?
I once received a postal rejection (with my manuscript enclosed) and on the title page was the comment ‘We don’t publish poetry’. I had submitted my 50,000+ word high fantasy novel…
How do you find the time to write?
I think I steal the time to write after work and between chores at home. If you want to be a writer, you should write, and those who are serious will make the time.
Where do you write?
I have a home office. I keep all my reference books, tools and notes in that room so I can access anything I need quickly and easily.
Can you recommend any software or apps that help with your writing?
OpenOffice – a free word processing tool
Dictionary.com – free online dictionary and thesaurus
HamsterSoft – free ebook conversion software
Books2Read – universal links for your ebooks
Crowdfire – improve your social media presence
And finally, where can we find out more about you and your books?
My website is at www.erachaelhardcastle.com
Thank you! Good luck with the box set and for your future writing success.