What goes on inside the writerly mind?
Let’s sit down with one of our Word Weaver Writing Contest 3rd place winners, Geoff Le Pard, and find out.
If you follow the blog, you’ll recognize the name Geoff Le Pard as the 1st place winner of our March Word Weaver Writing Contest. That doesn’t mean he gets a free pass to make it as a finalist for this contest. His writing is consistently good, which is why we see him here in the winner’s circle again. It thrills me to have good writers come back and compete, but anyone can win these contests!
DAN: Did you write your story for the contest or was it part of a larger piece or something you had written before?
Geoff Le Pard: It started life as a 199 word piece of flash and, well, it grew. And grew.
That can happen. Tell us about your writing process. What is the journey from idea to published piece/completed story?
When I have a prompt, genre or other guidance I have to work to, I tend to put my muse on his lead and head for the woods. That would be very creepy if said muse wasn’t a Jack Russell-Staffordshire Bull Terrier cross called Mylo – Dog on the Blog. Out in the wilds of South London I can usually be relied on to come up with four or five ridiculous ideas and then settle on one and gnaw at it. With short fiction, I try and think of the ending, the twist or the pull early on in the process. You don’t have long to do much so it’s important not to blather away and use up words. In novels you have the luxury of a bit more development time and there I tend to let things flow, first time around and work back to something solid during the many edits.
Did your spouse help you? How?
Ah. By letting me sit at my screen for hours. By being an utterly ruthless editor if I ask her. By not pushing herself forward as an editor until I’m brave enough. Mostly by still laughing at my jokes after 40 years together, some of the jokes being familiar to her from that far back.
She’s a good sport! Where do you do your writing?
Three places, mostly: the kitchen table; my memory desk in a nook in an attic room and in one of several local cafes that Dog insists we visit after our walks.
Do you have a writing goal you want to achieve?
I started writing in 2006 and wrote four novels before deciding I needed to learn some technique and began a few courses culminating in an MA in creative writing in 2013. I have those four novels still to beat into shape (the first is currently in surgery) and publish as well as several ideas that I want to take forward: currently I’ve published four novels, a memoir and two anthologies of short fiction. This year I will publish a fifth novel (the sequel to my first published book, following Harry Spittle’s adventures) and another anthology (comprising the 70 plus pieces of short fiction I wrote in 2017) with the revised first book likely to be published in first quarter 2019. I have planned out the third and fourth parts of the Spittle Saga (the third part is written – first draft only); I have a great idea I want to write during Nano this year – a piece of magical realism, not something I’ve touched before; I’ve a MG novel written that deserves to be the first of a trilogy and I’d like to find the time to write them. And did I mention the other three novels I wrote before I learned anything about the writing process? Oh, and each week I try and write more short fiction for my blog, between two and four pieces that can go into another anthology next year. Not much, really….
What helps you the most when it comes to writing?
Time. Good cushions. A reliable laptop. Oh and Time and coffee and cake and Dog. And praise. I’m a carrot kind of guy, or maybe it’s just this ego thing…
What does writing success look like?
Hitting publish on any novel, memoir or anthology. Then holding my own book in my hands. Ok, I’m not immortal and sure books may rot but I’m leaving a little of me for others to find after I’m a quintessence of dust again and that feels nice.
What are you working on now?
There’s an anthology of short fiction which is with one editor, the revised first ever book I wrote is with another (I suspect this will need a fair bit of work still) and I’m revising (the last of eight edits) the sequel to my first published book, starting on Monday with a view to getting it to an editor by the end of September. I am also meeting my cover designer over the next week to work on covers for these three works. Alongside this, I’ve been working on some poetry, taking the first line of famous poems and giving them my spin. I’m wondering if I shouldn’t pull some of my poetry together in a collection… Hmm.
There are a lot of writing contests out there. What drew you to this one?
I found your last one, via Lucy of the Portergirl series and, to my delight and surprise won it. How could I not have another shot at the next one? I also had this little piece that I wanted to expand and it fitted neatly with the category so, serendipity!
How did you hear about our contest?
I follow your blog. Sucker, huh? Blame that Brazier woman.
Have you ever entered a writing contest before?
I have a go at a few prompts some of which are judged but yours are the first where it’s been a formal process and so structured. And it’s also the first where I get a critique.
Will we see you again in the next Word Weaver Writing Contest, if there is one?
I expect so, depending on the requirements (genre, prompt, title, timing or whatever)
Did you know the piece you submitted was special?
Nope. Astounded. But then that’s the same with anything I write. It’s always in hope…
What’s next for you?
More of the same. Just hope my fingers hold out and Dog doesn’t get fed up with the walks.
What was Dan’s critique process like?
Now that I’ve been through it twice, I can truly say it’s the best bit of the whole thing. Yep, it’s lovely to be judged worthy of a place, but let’s be honest, a lot of that has to do with subjectivity of the judges – there are so many great stories out there. The critique on the other hand brings home to you a different way of looking at the story. A lot of people read my stuff, on my blog and elsewhere and often say lovely things about it… but wouldn’t it be great if there really told you where it failed? What sucked? What clunked? I love the idea everything I write is perfect; I love the idea I could live on coffee, cake and chocolate – oh and cheese, mustn’t forget the cheese. But that’s utterly unrealistic. So I know there must be greens too as I know there must be critiques and in the same way I’ve learned to love the greens (though, please, what is the point of kale? Yeauch.) I’ve learned to love a good critique and that’s what Dan gives you. It’s thorough, non-judgemental, encouraging if you deserve praise and unstinting if you don’t.
Geoff Le Pard started writing to entertain in 2006. He hasn’t left his keyboard since. When he’s not churning out novels he writes some maudlin self-indulgent poetry, short fiction and blogs at geofflepard.com. He walks the dog for mutual inspiration and most of his best ideas come out of these strolls. He also cooks with passion if not precision.
My Father and Other Liars is a thriller set in the near future and takes its heroes, Maurice and Lori-Ann on a helter-skelter chase across continents.
Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle is a coming of age story. Set in 1976 the hero Harry Spittle is home from university for the holidays. He has three goals: to keep away from his family, earn money and hopefully have sex. Inevitably his summer turns out to be very different to that anticipated.
Life in a Grain of Sand is a 30 story anthology covering many genres: fantasy, romance, humour, thriller, espionage, conspiracy theories, MG and indeed something for everyone. All the stories were written during Nano 2015
Salisbury Square is a dark thriller set in present day London where a homeless woman and a Polish man, escaping the police at home, form an unlikely alliance to save themselves.
Buster & Moo is about about two couples and the dog whose ownership passes from one to the other. When the couples meet, via the dog, the previously hidden cracks in their relationships surface and events begin to spiral out of control. If the relationships are to survive there is room for only one hero but who will that be?
Life in a Flash is a set of super short fiction, flash and micro fiction that should keep you engaged and amused for ages
Apprenticed To My Mother describes the period after my father died when I thought I was to play the role of dutiful son, while Mum wanted a new, improved version of her husband – a sort of Desmond 2.0. We both had a lot to learn in those five years, with a lot of laughs and a few tears as we went.