Wednesday, 23 November 2016

How I Write by Mark Leggatt

I would like to welcome Mark Leggatt to my blog today. Mark's latest book The London Cage was published by Fledgling Press on 29 June 2016.

How I Write
By Mark Leggatt

Many thanks to Victoria for asking me to contribute to her blog. I chose a topic that endlessly fascinates me; how I actually get from the ‘idea’ to the ‘book on the shelf’.  I say fascinates me, as in my day job as a Project Manager, I’m always looking for ways to make processes more efficient. Not stripping things down to the bare bone, but finding the best method, and one which is tailored to my personal foibles, to achieve the final objective; a book.

I’ve written on this topic before for my own blog, but that was over a year ago, and things have moved on. At first, in the years spent leading up to my first publishing deal, I filled endless notebooks with illegible handwriting; a general repository for anything that came into my head. I write every day, and as it started way before laptops were something you didn’t need a wheel barrow to lug around, and didn’t threaten to break your legs if you did sat them on your lap. Paper and pen was always seemed the natural way to write, and for one good reason; I can’t type and think of stories at the same time. My brain can type, or it can write. But not at the same time. Which is why I’m writing this blog by hand, with a fountain pen made in 1925, on Rhodia paper, and which I’ll dictate into my laptop. But more of that later…

At first, I used a desk diary, and wrote anything and everything during my working day. Day job note as well as ideas. I think I now have around fifty A4 and twenty A5 notebooks crammed with rubbish; sorry, I meant scintillating wisdom. So, when it came to actually writing a story, the keyboard on my computer was not my natural environment. Basically, I’m a terrible typist.

The day I got out of bed, on a sunny day in the south of France, where I was ‘resting’ between jobs, and told myself to ‘stop talking about writing a book and bloody well get on with it’, I drove up to the next village and bought a ton of paper and pens. Did I need them? No, I had shedloads at home, but this was a special day. Any bloody excuse to buy stationery, frankly. I came home, cleared the dining room table, and set to work. I had no idea where I was going, but that was fine, I’d find my way if I didn’t give up.

At first, I used A3 (and still do) to brain dump anything that came into my head, but as I went back to the day job, and lots of travel, that was impractical, so I change to A5 notebooks, that I can open on an airline seat table, and then transfer everything to A3 at the weekend. This became a really good habit, because in the rewriting, so many more things came and ideas blossomed. These days I don’t travel so much, but if I do, and where ever I go, I carry an A5 notebook, and a Field Notes notebook in my back pocket. I swear to you, the fabulous idea you just had will disappear out your head in seconds if you don’t write it down immediately.

At home, where most of my writing is done, I start in old notebooks, and still do the same brain dump. I let my mind wander, and just keep scribbling, the idea will come out, and the best way to make it happen is to write, and keep writing. It’s cathartic, productive and bloody good fun.

And this is an important thing to me; I love the act of writing with a pen or pencil. It’s a physical manifestation of my thoughts, and it endlessly entertains, me, in an unabashed childish way. I’m not that fussy about my pen and paper, really, but given a choice, I’d go for a good fountain pen and some good paper. The paper is important because it need to be able to take the ink without bleeding through on to the next page. I won’t bore you with my research on the topic, but Rhoda make damn fine paper.

Now, once all the ideas are out of my head, and I’ve organised them into some sort of synopsis, I’ll dictate it in the laptop, using Apple voice recognition or Dragon. Anything to save typing. And when the onscreen editing is done, and I have a finished synopsis, it’s time to get out the pencils.

Why pencils? Well, it’s down to speed. I write faster with pencils. I chose either A4 Cartridge paper, or a Rhodia a5 notepad, and just go for it. I sharpen 12 pencils, line them up, and I’m ready to go.

Endless reams of paper later, I dictate the whole lot on the laptop, and we have a draft book. That’s the easy bit over. Then the editing starts. And that’s a topic for another day…

About Mark Leggatt
Mark Leggatt is the author of Names Of The Dead, The London Cage, and The Silk Road, a series of international thrillers which weave fact and fiction across the globe.was born in Lochee, Dundee and currently lives in Edinburgh.

He is a member of the Crime Writers Association in the UK, The Society of Authors, Scottish PEN, and the International Thriller Writers in the USA. He is the Debut Author Programme Membership vice-chair for the International Thriller Writers.

Find Mark on his website and on Twitter - @Mark_Leggatt

About The London Cage

The London Cage
By Mark Leggett
Published by Fledgling Press (29 June 2016)
ISBN: 978-1905916122

Publisher's description

A man who doesn't exist discovers a weapon that doesn't exist. The CIA had hoped it would be buried for centuries, but the retreat of the glaciers has revealed a Cold War secret that could bring down the communications and defence systems of every country on the planet. Connor Montrose must find a way to take control of the destructive power and stop the global race towards Armegeddon. Every major country in the world is desperate for the secret. Including his own. He is faced with the choice of betrayal or survival, but either way, he'll lose.Cold War enemies from Washington and Moscow pursue him across London, and only one young hacker, Kirsty, will stand by his side. Then an old man tells him, "If I had the choice between betraying my friends and betraying my country, I should hope I have the guts to betray my country." His country needs him, but if he gives up the secret, his friends and those he loves will die. And the killing will never stop.

Buy The London Cage on Amazon UK here

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