Today I’d like to welcome LE Fitzpatrick, dystopian author of The Running Game.
Can you give us your quickest description of your books?
Fast paced, paranormal/dystopian thriller. Blade Runner meets Guy Richie.
Interesting! Do you picture that kind of movie-like direction while you’re writing scenes?
I get told a lot that my books read like films, although I never set out to write them that way. Mainly I get ideas and inspiration from films I love and they end up somehow being incorporated in my stories. I like a lot of slick dialogue and action in my books rather than internal monologues, so maybe I use my characters a bit like you would actors and instead of delving into their inner workings, I put a gun in their hands and let them interpret a scene themselves.
What are you working on currently?
Currently I’m working on the rest of the Reacher series, there’s about 6 books planned so far, along with a few shorts to expand on too. Book 2 is with the publishers at the moment and fingers and toes are crossed for a 2016 release.
I’ve just started writing shorts myself and find it really enjoyable. Do you plan to use your shorts to tell backstory for your existing characters or to introduce something new into the story?
The history surrounding the backstory of the characters is quite extensive. The Running Game, the first book in the series, starts when my four main characters come together for the first time, but each of them has come from some sort of dark and traumatic backstory. When I start mapping out the main story arc of the series I find it really useful to write little snippets of history, etc., and after publishing The Running Game I realized that a lot of the snippets came together to form a little short in its own right. For me the short stories are a bit like the extra bits you get on a DVD boxset – the deleted scenes, or documentaries – which aren’t part of the main story arc but are great for people wanting more. Most of the stories concentrate on the additional secondary characters in the book who don’t get as much attention as they perhaps deserve.
What is your favorite scene you’ve written? Can you give us a peek?
They met at the edge of the docks, where the smell of fish and sea collided with the sulphuric fumes of the neighbouring factories. John stood like a tall mast protruding out of the harbour. When he made himself visible he was impossible to miss. Wrapped up in his thick black trench coat he was an immovable figure against the harsh breath of the ocean. He was immaculate, despite a night in the lockup, which was more than could be said for Charlie.
The elder brother hobbled forward like some kind of decrepit swamp creature. He stank of sweat and vomit and grime. There were stains down his coat, dirt clogged to the thick layer of stubble against his face. And he felt worse than he looked. He nodded at John, marking the start and end of their apologies.
“You armed?” Charlie asked.
“The usual.” He had one pistol in his holster that they would find. One snub in his boot which was lazily concealed and a knife they would have to autopsy him to uncover. “Is there a plan?”
“Leave alive.” The best laid plans, Charlie thought to himself.
They walked towards the warehouse as a united front.
So much great description in just a small chunk! Do you prefer setting the tone of a scene with dialogue or description, or a combo of both?
If I want to slow the tone of the story down I will usually rely on my own narrative and descriptive scenes to lay some history or imagery into the plot. Like above, brothers John and Charlie are meeting for the first time after a huge fight, they are very different in appearance but very similar when it comes to dealing with their relationship. I wanted the reader to see this scene from a distance, because it’s a private moment between them. But as the scene progresses and the move towards an action scene I like to use snappy dialogue to change the pace and suddenly grab the reader and involve them in the danger.
When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?
I find that the process of writing is the easiest thing in the world, it comes more naturally to me that breathing. For me getting stuck in is very rarely a problem, but getting out again… well let’s just say very few chores happen at home.
Haha. Do you have to force yourself to stop when you’re on a roll? Most people indeed have the opposite problem – having enough in their head to get on paper all at once.
Sometimes you have to just stop. If it’s the wee hours of the morning anything I’m putting down is probably gibberish and you just have to stop for the greater good. But if I’m working through a difficult scene or plot issue I’ll often push to get through it. I tend to write most days and nights but I’d say at least 80% of those words get deleted. I sometimes think you have to write 100 pages of nonsense to get to 10 pages of perfection (or at least satisfaction). My trial and error method could be very frustrating for a lot of people, but I’ve done it this way all my life.
Same here. Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?
I tend to write fantasy or sci-fi so a lot of my books are very much from my imagination, but I like to inject a lot of humanity into my characters and I tend to put a lot of myself.
So you try to make your characters relatable even when they’re in unfamiliar worlds? Do you find that comes naturally as a storyteller, or are there times when you feel like you need to infuse your characters with more humanity?
Everything about my books is character driven. The settings and unfamiliar worlds fall around the characters and often they reject ideas that are just incredulous or absurd. I’ve never struggled with making my characters more human per se, but I often struggle with them accepting my plots. If the story arc isn’t natural and believable the characters reject it and I just can’t get anywhere. Sometimes it feels like they’ve got more control of the story than me.
Thanks, LE, for sharing!