Home again, briefly
I'm back from an excellent but hot weekend in Melbourne, where I signed lots of books, talked to readers, and tried to sound intelligent answering questions from Lili Wilkinson and the audience at the Centre for Youth Literature event on Sunday. That latter event will be podcast here at inside a dog, I believe, in due course. So you will be able to judge for yourself whether my answers sounded intelligent or not. You would think that when most of the questions are about my own books I should be able to answer them clearly and concisely, but it is interesting how often I have not thought about why I do particular things, or how I came to write what I did, and so have to puzzle through to some kind of unsatisfactory answer.
Often, particularly for questions about why I wrote something in a particular way, or had a character do something, the answer is simply "instinct" or more accurately "story instinct". I didn't think it through, I just followed my story instinct and it worked. Coupled with this is my sense of euphony and rhythm in language: words and phrases either sound and feel right or they don't. But I wasn't just born with a good instinct for story and a reasonable ear for how to tell that story, I think I trained myself in both areas by reading, and by reading very widely, so I was exposed from a young age to many different ways to construct stories and many different prose styles. Reading aloud is also a very good way to both learn about how to write well, and also to discover the weaknesses in your own prose so you can revise it, to make it serve the story better and also to sound more pleasing to mind or ear. Of course, you can never make it perfect. At least I can't!
Perhaps I should try to think up some better answers now that I am home for two days, before I head off again. This time to the Perth Writers Festival, where I will be on panels discussing publishing, and about science fiction and fantasy, and of course will also have sessions talking about my own books. You can find out the details here.