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My writing process and other questions…

I’ve been asked to take part in ‘The Writing Process Blog Tour’ by Steven A McKay, a novelist who’s had amazing success with his first e-book, Wolf’s Head – a retelling of the Robin Hood legend with 11,000 sales in the first half year and the follow up, The Wolf and The Raven, out today! The idea is that all the writers who take part answer the same four questions about their work and their writing process, and together they form an electronic blogging chain stretching on into eternity! You can read Steven’s blog (and more about his writing) here:


Steven A McKay

So, the four questions:

1) What am I working on?

Currently I’m sorting out a print version of The Oracles of Troy – more news about that soon. I’m also writing the fifth in the Adventures of Odysseus series, The Voyage of Odysseus. I’m about 55,000 words in so far, which is just over a third of the way. Won’t be finished until 2015 though.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

As far as I’m aware, there aren’t many others who write about ancient Greece. The late David Gemmel is the most obvious and more recently The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, but I’ve not read either so can’t comment.

3) Why do I write what I do?

I studied Classics at university and developed a fascination with the myths surrounding the Trojan War, especially the way the story had been developed and diversified by different writers over the centuries. I also realised (in 1999 when I came up with the idea for King of Ithaca) that no-one else had written a novel about the Trojan War and that there was a gap in the market. So I went for it. I also thought that I couldn’t do the myths justice in one book, or even three. So here I am on book five with one book still to go!

4) How does your writing process work?

As readers of the series will confirm, very slowly. I’m a part-time writer with only one day a week to spare for my passion, so it usually takes around 18 months to write and edit a book. To be fair to myself, they’re twice as long as the average novel so it’s almost like writing a book every 9 months. My writing day usually starts with a cooked breakfast at a local café, followed by lots of prevaricating while I build up to the moment when I jump in and start writing. Then it takes a couple of false starts before I finally get into my stride and start producing the goods mid-afternoon. Today’s writing didn’t get going until 1.30pm (admittedly, later than usual), then a tea break at 3pm after around 700 words, followed by another rush until 6pm in which I edged the total up to 1650 words. Then I stopped for dinner, took my daughters swimming, got home, read them a story (we’re on Treasure Island at the moment), let their pet gerbils out for a run on the landing, put the girls to bed, then continued writing from 8.30pm to 10pm and finished on a total of 2,400 words. Thankfully it’s not usually that complicated.

2 Awesome Comments So Far

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  1. Steven McKay
    April 11, 2014 at 11:07 pm #

    I honestly never realised how long your novels are until I read this blog, which is probably hard to believe considering I beta-read Oracles! Just goes to show how enjoyable your books are when I can read them so quickly!
    On David Gemmel’s Greek stuff – I’m a HUGE fan of the guy’s fantasy work (he writes the best fight scenes!) but I never got into his Trojan work. I’ll take yours any day (Gemmel’s Skilgannon books beat almost anything I’ve read in the past 5 years though!)

    • Glyn Iliffe
      April 26, 2014 at 9:55 am #

      Thanks Steven. Hope the new book’s going well!

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