Colin Sinclair is a writer and roleplaying game creator from Northern Ireland. He's written a lot of stuff over the years but most of it is boxed up and chained down and buried deep where it can't cause you any
trouble. When he's not forced to work in a dull office job he's writing or reading, and when he's not doing that he's baking bread and thinking "I should be writing". He buys too many books; his house has been described as "a library with some beds in it".
Along with his Abaddon Books e-novella "Midnight in the Garden Centre of Good and Evil", Colin has also written short stories for some of the Fox Spirit Books 'Fox Pockets' anthologies and a post-apocalyptic tale in their "Girl at the End of the World Book 2" collection. He provided settings, background material and short fiction for "Broken Rooms", an alternate-worlds tabletop roleplaying game that features thirteen flavours of catastrophe.
Colin very rarely blogs at http://devilsjunkshop.com/, and lives by the sea with his wife, some children, probably a cat.
Colin blogs about his writing process:
Colin blogs about not writing about zombies:
How to be a published author in three easy steps!
Midnight in the Garden Centre of Good and Evil is a novella/novellette published by Abaddon Books as part of their Invaders from Beyond! series. It's cool. Honest! Don't believe me? READ THE BLURB!
Miller, fresh from too many pampered years at university, has managed to lose a PhD, a girlfriend, and her father’s car. With parents now committed to a regime of find-your-own-way tough love, he’s fallen off the fast track to success, and finds himself working in a shabby garden centre on the edge of nowhere. The staff are a collection of dropouts and oddballs, the boss is very shady, and Miller’s not sure half the stuff they sell is legal.
Still, he’s learning to get on with things and make do, finding a brand new path through life, but... an alien invasion disguised as a bright and shiny big-box store from out of town? That really isn’t helping.
If Miller wants to protect his job and save the world, he’s going to have to dig deep and get his hands dirty.
Personal note: My name is on the damn cover! How cool is that??!!
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B015RL38T6
Amazon US: https://amzn.com/B015RL38T6
A childhood where my weekends were mostly divided between visiting garden centres and watching pulp sci-fi marathons on fuzzy black-and-white television.
What if I combined the two, I thought. What if…
Your book is sci-fi with other speculative fiction elements. Is that your preferred genre do you/would you consider writing in another genre?
I'm happy writing in any genre. Yes, it's fair to say that much of my published work has been solidly in the sci-fi zone, but I've dabbled in other things. Then again, perhaps the fact a lot of those dabblings don't get very far suggests I'm better suited to the sci-fi realm. I still have ideas for straight crime novels, political thrillers, or whatever. That's the beauty of speculative fiction though, isn't it? It can be a thriller with spaceships, a romance novel with added elves. A noirish detective thing with giant alien spiders, maybe.
There’s a lot of debate about the merits of ‘hard’ versus ’soft’ sci-fi. What are your feelings on the division and do you have a preference for one type over another. In which camp would you place your book and why?
In terms of the hard/soft designation I'd have to class my book as 'vague'. There is some science there, but I don't get too specific about any of it. I can show my workings out if anyone asks but my handwriting is a little scrappy so it may be unreadable to the untrained eye. In general I'd veer towards the soft end of science, but either works. I mean, stories aren't textbooks. Great if the author can explain complex technologies or theories with easy grace and keep a narrative barreling along, but I'm more interested in the social or character consequences of whatever high technology device or awesome notion is on display. A story about the impact of the automobile on early 20th century society doesn't have to include long passages about internal combustion; it's about what it does to people and places.
What do you want your readers to know about this book?
Someone called it 'the written equivalent of watching a Simon Pegg movie', and I can't think of a better description.
Also, it's cheap.
What’s your favorite scene and why?
I like the opening. I think it sets the tone from the first line. Also there's a lot of character interaction stuff that I'm pretty pleased with. Every scene. Every scene is my favourite, can I say that?
Is there a sequel in the works? If so, any idea when readers can expect to get their hot little hands on it?
I have a vague notion for a follow-up. More of a spiritual sequel; similar aliens, different setting. Nothing definite yet.
Writing includes editing. Lots and lots of editing. Are there are scenes, details, characters, etc. that were sacrificed to the editing gods that you regret deleting or wish you could have shared with readers?
I think maybe it could have done with more spiders.
Writing Process Questions:
Tell us a bit about your current work in progress.
I'm doing a second/third draft of noirish detective thing that features giant alien spiders.
Who or what has inspired your writing?
Growing up in a house full of books where people were always reading; that's pretty much where it started. It's a short step from reading stories to wanting to write your own. (And then a way longer step to getting something published.)
Also, I grew up during a time when classic Doctor Who and Blake's 7 were on television, Star Wars was in the cinema, and Advanced Dungeons & Dragons was the go-to roleplaying game.
I'm not sure there was any way for me to escape becoming a science fiction writer.
What is your biggest goal with your writing? Do you currently write full time or are you a place to the day job dreaming of freedom?
I'd like the writing to be my day job. Not quite there yet.
When and where do you like to write? What is the weirdest location where you’ve ever written?
I write when I can, wherever I can. If I don't have access to a computer I can still scribble some notes in my commonplace book, or use Evernote on my 'phone to remind myself of things to work on later.
[no answer for the 'weird location' part of the question … all very dull]
How much research was involved in your latest piece and how did you tackle it?
I visited a lot of garden centres. In some cases I went back to the boarded up abandoned ruins of garden centres I'd been to as a child.
Looking back I think a lot of my writing involves stringing together snippets of things I've learned over the years, and then wrapping them all up in a bundle that seems like it might be sort of true.
Are you a pantser or a plotter? Tell us a little about your writing method, what works and what doesn’t work for you.
My method varies, but it tends to go like this:
I have a vague idea, maybe a snippet of dialogue, or a final scene, or a general what if?
I write that down and ignore while I work on other things and then, at some point, it bubbles up to the surface of my brain again, perhaps because that dialogue connects well with a character I've just thought of, or one idea for a story links into another to create something new and different.
I sometimes plan things out in detail, once I finally decided 'this is the story I'm writing', other times I just wing it. In most cases the finished product never ends up quite like I expected, but I think it's good to have a vague direction in mind.
What has been your biggest learning experience so far in your career? What are some of the memorable high and low points?
The biggest thing I've learned is that notion that you can't edit a blank page. You just have to get the words down, and worry about tidy up and straightening out afterwards. I'm not quite suggesting 'write drunk, edit sober', but I do try to spend less time worrying about the weight of individual words when I haven't even got the characters out of the first scene or figured out how the book might end.
The high point so far was launching "Midnight in the Garden Centre of Good & Evil" at the Abaddon X event in London last year. Obviously, getting signed up to write the thing was pretty cool in itself, but standing up in front of a bunch of folks and talking about the book was amazing/nerve-wracking.
What do you like best about writing in general, and speculative fiction specifically?
I like making stuff up. I enjoy writing/running tabletop roleplaying games as well as this 'sci-fi author' thing, and it's all part of the same kick: create worlds, have characters walk/run/fight through them. Make an impression on people with your words. The speculative fiction angle just makes the canvas bigger. Limitless, even.
When it comes to writing and the writing process, what’s your greatest strength and your greatest weakness or area needing improvement?
In terms of actual physical getting-words-on-paper, I suspect my main weakness is a tendency to occasionally fall back on the 'write thousands of words in random bursts' process rather than managing to maintain the less hectic 'writing as habit' technique for which I continually strive.
When did you start to actually feel like an author?
The first time I got a review that wasn't from someone I know/ a family member/ my mum.
What one thing in your writer’s toolkit has been most valuable to your writing?
Notebooks. You can never have too many notebooks for jotting down ideas, characters, scenes. I swear by them. I sometimes swear at them if I can't find the right one, but still…buy notebooks.
Anything else you’d like to share with readers?
I have a new short story out from Fox Spirit Books, included in their "Piercing the Vale" Fox Pocket anthology, which also contains incredible stories by Jen Williams, Paul Starkey, Chloe Yates and many more. It's a long list and excellent anthology. Buy it now :)
Fox Spirit Books Piercing the Vale release day: http://www.foxspirit.co.uk/release-day-piercing-vale/
Amazon US (print version) : http://amzn.com/1909348899
Amazon UK (print version) : http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1909348899
Randomly Added Question: Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly or Battlestar Galactica?
I like all of these things. Without them I suspect I'd be leading a very different life.