Guest Post from Richard Dee

Guest Post from Richard Dee

Thank you for the opportunity to post on your blog. Allow me to introduce myself.

I’m Richard Dee and I write Sci-fi and Steampunk, I have eight novels and two books of short stories published, as well as a piece in the 1066 Turned Upside Down collection of alternative history concerning the Battle of Hastings.

I must confess to having a problem when it comes to writing guest posts for other people’s blogs. Should I turn it into a long advert for my work or should I say nothing much about that and concentrate on the way that I write?
It’s not as if I’m worried about writing all sorts of things. I have three adult daughters so have had a little practice at wedding speeches, and I regularly talk at literary events. I also have a course in World Building that I occasionally present and am putting online.

Then, there’s my website, where I post once or twice weekly, either about my work or featuring a guest post. There’s a lot more about me and my work there, together with lots of freebies. I’m currently setting up a regular showcase for Indie authors, giving them the opportunity to put themselves in front of my audience.

I always say to those who book a guest spot, “write about what you like.” Now karma seems to have caught up with me and I have to pick a subject and wax lyrical.
I could tell you about my forty-year career at sea, latterly as a Thames Pilot. But this time, I’ll tell you about what’s behind my writing. I’ve recently celebrated five years as a self-published author. It’s something I seem to have stumbled into. I’ve always read a lot, but never thought about writing. Then one-day inspiration came to me. Where it came to me from is anyone’s guess. I had an idea and before I knew it, characters were knocking on the inside of my head. They kept on at me, until I started to put their stories down. I can only describe my writing process as like watching a film, I can slow it down to see the details and I can rewind it, but I can’t fast forward. It means that I never know the end of any of my books while I’m writing it. A reader will find the ending as much of a surprise as it was to me.

Even though I set my books in the future (or in the case of Steampunk in an alternative present), I try to make sure that the basic science that underpins them is factual. I made the mistake of thinking at the start that you didn’t need to do much research to write sci-fi. I reasoned that, as it hadn’t happened, you could hardly research it!

I know so much better now and spend a lot of time on research, I read science magazines and scan the internet for the latest ideas, to see where they could fit into or influence my current work in progress. I believe that, as long as there is a fact or a truth behind the initial idea, it can be stretched and twisted to fit into the setting you’re creating. If the basis is true, the reader can identify with it and is happy to accept your modifications. We’re not necessarily talking about anything major, when you consider it, there is enough in the realm of science and technology that we are currently capable of doing to fill another time and place. All you need to do is devise a believable way to get it there.

I’ve grown to love research as well, almost for the sake of it. The things that it throws up, the serendipity and the unbelievable facts. They can give you some great connections between apparently unrelated things and make a story come to life. A lot of my research goes towards creating a background, then there are the facts I collect that have no immediate place. These end up among my growing archive of short stories. Maybe one day, they will grow into novels, that’s the fun of writing, you never really know where inspiration will strike.
When I was a child I remember reading a magazine that my father used to have a large pile of. It was called Wide World and featured amazing stories from all over the globe. Tales of Deering-do, adventure and exploration, enough to ignite my curiosity, they were probably what made me want to go to sea at age sixteen. “Truth is stranger than fiction” was the subheading on the title page and it was certainly right.

My characters are drawn from people I know, members of my family and people I’ve observed having conversations in coffee shops. My amateur detective Andorra Pett is an amalgam of my wife and my daughters; while the life of Dave Travise; Interplanetary Trader, is based on the idea of the tramp cargo ship of the late Victorian era, going anywhere and carrying anything. Its just been moved a few thousand years into the future. The Steampunk universe of Norlandia is a world like ours might have been if we didn’t have oil and electricity to power it.
Under it all is the plot, it might be a chase, a tale of love and loss or one person’s search for redemption. The plot normally precedes the universe, I create the location to bring out the best in the characters or provide the most exciting setting for the action.

The original stories have developed into series, when I started I never imagined writing sequels, prequels or spin-offs, it was an unintended consequence. Readers asked me questions. “What did that bit mean?” or “why did they do that?” being the most common. As if I knew, my plan was only to include the information as a way of creating a realistic setting or backstory. I was flattered that I had interested people enough that they wanted to know more. The trouble is that these questions set off trains of thought and explanations came into my head. Then I had to write them down.

Now, I spend so much time on them that I find it hard to squeeze the new ideas in.
Perhaps I could finish by telling you about the FREE novel that I offer to all who look at my website. Ribbonworld is a tale of conspiracy and adventure, set on a planet that lacks the one useful thing that most inhabited planets possess. An atmosphere! If you want a copy, head to my website and click on the FREE STUFF link.

I’m also on Facebook @RichardDeeAuthor


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