Getting To Know Our New YA Author
Join us as we chat with Blue Moon Publishers author Mark Burley about his writing process and his exciting, upcoming YA novel, Hit the Ground Running!
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always wanted to create, and I’ve always really liked stories. When I was young, we’d often have a narrative to the games we played; we were outside all the time, and our imaginations were well-used. It took time for me to mature as a reader, and I still read many things slowly so I can appreciate the feel of the words. I liked books very much, for what they were as well as for what they contained. Having physical books around was reassuring, like it reminded me of possibilities or potential. I loved writing and tended to go all-out on writing assignments in school, but at the time I didn’t see writing as a profession. By the time I figured it out, life was constantly getting in the way, and it was hard to gain momentum. I worked on a few things over the years, but it wasn’t until I made big changes in my lifestyle that I could spend the time I needed to see it through. Things have moved faster since, and now when I’m writing, it feels like it’s always been there.
What inspired you to begin writing Hit the Ground Running?
It was my daughter’s idea, actually. She was eleven at the time and had a thing for mummies after getting creeped out at an amazing Egyptian exhibit at a museum. She suggested a story about a boy whose parents are egyptologists who go missing while on an expedition, and the boy has to go find them. She likes fast-paced stories with a mixture of science and science fiction, and my wife, who is a power reader, does as well. I wrote the book with them in mind.
Do you have any quirky writing habits?
Tea, and keep it coming. I have a certain mental state I need to achieve to be productive, and sometimes it takes longer to get there, so I will occasionally re-read work from the previous days, maybe manipulate some lines, or review my outline until I get on track. Best thing is when I can sit down and pick up right where I left off the previous day, but this doesn’t always happen. For atmosphere, I always start with quiet, and then, to help refocus, will add music. In the morning, it’s classical and traditional, always soft, instrumental, and in the background. Any voice needs to blend in to the music to keep from being distracting. In the evening, it’s jazz, blues, and occasionally indie and alternative, mostly at least twenty years old (New Order, Depeche Mode, The Cure) and some more recent (The War on Drugs, The Black Keys, Jose Gonzalez, Radiohead). I also have this weird thing for Frank Sinatra’s stuff from the forties and fifties. Regardless of the time of day and always mixed in with whatever is playing are film scores, and every playlist has Harry Potter in it.
Have you had anything published in the past? Are you working on writing anything currently?
Hit the Ground Running is my first published work; it’s the first in a trilogy, and will be released in April of 2017. Book 2 is out to beta, and I’m hoping to submit it to my editor early in 2017. Book 3 is in first draft.
Which aspects of the writing process present a challenge, and how do you overcome them?
For words to flow, I need to stay wrapped around the story in my head, but my brain has a limited capacity for details and direction; too much stuff or too many characters and they spill out, so I end up grasping at everything. I try to stay within my capacity, for the overall story and within the chapter I’m working on at any given time. Later revisions and polishing are also challenging, because my familiarity with the content and the wording makes it hard to stay objective; it’s tougher for me to maintain an intuitive sense of the insight of the first-time reader. I rely heavily on my betas to back me up on this, and they’ve been graciously supportive.
Do you have a favourite music playlist for writing?