HOW I WRITE: John Gwynne, author of Wrath
John Gwynne's epic and addictive series The Faithful and the Fallen is coming to a close. The fourth book, Wrath, is out in hardback and digital right now and it's the most brutal and satisfying chapter yet.
To celebrate, John swung by to tell us about where the magic happens: his writing room and the various props and rituals within that help him pen his remarkable novels.
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When I began writing Malice, book one of the Faithful and the Fallen, the writing took place in a dark and dingy corner of my bedroom, surrounded by piles (mountains) of books. A little like a small-scale model of Mordor (not that I’m comparing myself to Sauron!) Since then Caroline, my fabulous wife, has taken great pleasure in decorating our spare room and filling it with my books, many of which had been boxed up and stored in the loft for many, many years. I struggle to get rid of books!
Welcome to my Writing Room!
It’s a great space, full of books. As soon as I step in there I get a pleasant, calm feeling. Wrath was written in here, as well as Dread, book one of the new series.
As far as rituals go, I don’t have set times or patterns of writing. For anyone that isn’t familiar with my family and household, writing is just a case of ‘grab it when you can!’ In hindsight, my most productive writing sessions take place later into the night, which may or may not have anything to do with a few of my family members finally settling down to some serious snoring.
So a routine in terms of time doesn’t really happen for me, however, when I do settle in to write, there are a few rituals that I do go through without even thinking, and I have surrounded myself with a few items that help to ease me into the Banished Lands.
Drink – usually caffeine of some description, though on hot summer nights that can be switched to cider!
Checking emails, Facebook, Goodreads, and some general procrastination. Slowly, though, my desk and surroundings drag me towards the Banished Lands.
Here’s my desk and view!
You may spot a few items that help to focus my mind on the writing in hand. I’ll mention a few of them for you.
A stuffed crow! Strangely his beady stare comes across as extremely encouraging. Sometimes I can even hear Craf’s voice, a whispered squawk in my ear. Behind the crow you will notice a fine Norse spangenhelm and a painting on the wall of Corban and Storm, which was gifted to me by the incredibly talented Lawrence Mann. I do spend a significant amount of time staring at these items, but I don’t consider them a distraction. On the contrary, with the lights out and just a glow from the laptop, their gleam all adds to feeling immersed in my fantasy world.
Below is a photo of my favourite pen, given to me by my oldest friend, Sadak. He’s mentioned in my Acknowledgments as the only other member of our ‘Tolkien Club’ at school. We made a quiz that people had to take if they wanted to join!
A few other items are scattered about the desk.
My laptop, where all of the writing has happened since Valour.
Note-books and current research. The book on the end of the desk is research for a new idea that’s taken root in my brain!
A pottery-tortoise, made by Harriett, my daughter.
And Batman. Of course.
There is one more VITAL ingredient to my writing routine, one that I would go so far as to say that without it, the Banished Lands may never have happened. Or at least, the Faithful and the Fallen would have taken a good few more years to complete!
My headphones! Noise is quite an issue in my house, and these are my way into other worlds. Amongst others, soundtracks like ‘Last of the Mohicans,’ ‘Braveheart,’ ‘Gladiator,’ and ‘the Lord of the Rings,’ are my route into my own Banished Lands.
And when I’m done, there are a few photos to ease me back into the real world! My mum and dad, my wife and I, and me in a rock n’ roll band, back when I had hair.
And then I’m ready to step out of my cave and face the world . . .
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John will be signing copies of Wrath at Forbidden Planet, Covent Garden this afternoon, Saturday 19 November, from 4pm! Find out more here.