Featured Author: Rory Warwick is a British horror and science fiction writer who writes under the name R. W. Warwick. He lives in Tokyo with his wife who is a travel writer, and spends a considerable amount of his time writing his stories by hand on piles of notebooks, and exploring the Japanese countryside. When he is not writing, he enjoys mountain climbing, attempting to rekindle his relationship with the guitar, and looking for the next cyberpunk novel to fall into. Prior to moving to Japan, he worked for several years as an associate editor for US horror fiction quarterly magazine, Dark Moon Digest.
His writing credits include such horror and science fiction magazines as Frostfire Worlds, Perihelion Science Fiction, Bewildering Stories, and Gathering Storm Magazine, among others. His apocalyptic far future story “The Far Side of Eternity,” received an honourable mention in the Writers of the Future contest and was subsequently published in a collection of science fiction short stories, The Dial, which is available on Amazon. He is currently working through the second draft of his first full-length science fiction novel under the working title Champion City, which he is happy to tweet about often.
Rory’s social media soapboxes include Twitter (@realRoryWarwick), and Facebook (@RWWarwick), on which he can be regularly contacted.
Featured Author: Rory Warwick Interview
- How long have you been writing?
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you have a set number of words each day or a goal?
- How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: How long have you been writing?
Rory Warwick: I have a memory of sitting at the foot of the garden in my childhood home constructing crudely written poems; I must have been around nine or ten years old. My school English teacher was very supportive, I would prepare a new poem each week for her, and she would give me feedback on how they could be improved. Wherever you are Miss Jenkins, I owe you an awful lot. That’s about as far back as I can remember so…twenty three years.
LHP: What genre do you prefer to write in?
Rory Warwick: I write almost entirely science fiction, the bulk of my stories I was fortunate enough to have published are in that genre. That being said, I will write what comes to me, or what inspires me and if I have an idea for something really good, I run with it, like ‘Letters of the Raj’. It grew from something a little different and I just kept writing to see where it would go.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
Rory Warwick: Writing stories feels like a very natural way to express myself. Everyone has their own way of doing that. There wasn’t one thing which inspired me to write, but perhaps the biggest push I ever had was a gift I received from my wife (then girlfriend) several years ago. One Christmas she gave me a pen with my name engraved on it; she said it was to help me become a writer. I was so moved. When your passion is something which involves taking rejection most of the time, and all you have to keep going is your own blind determination, something like that from someone else really means a lot.
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
Rory Warwick: I’ve done both, it depends on the first idea. If I’m working from something that just comes to me, I’ll imagine an opening scene in my head and write that and then just keep writing from there. I find that works best with short stories. When I’m working on something larger, like a novel, I have to plan. The story becomes more complex as I go, and I need to make copious amounts of notes just to keep up. For the novel I’m working on right now, I started off with a character idea, and then I built a plot around him, and then a world, and then more characters sprung up as the plot thickened and before I knew it, I had plotted out eighteen chapters and profiles for a dozen or so characters. It’s fun that way because you can step back and watch the characters develop, and then you can make small changes to flesh them out.
LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
Rory Warwick: I’m afraid I don’t have a strict writing routine. I write a lot every day, even when perhaps I shouldn’t, like at work. I have a pen and pad with me all the time so that I can just write if I have any free time, but sometimes it’s hard if you’re in a distracting environment. When I was an English teacher in Japan, I had a lot of free time between classes, and I often had very little resources to make use of, so I would carry pens and about four notepads around with me to every school I visited, then when I had a free period, I’d just sit there and write and hope that I was left alone. The problem with that is you have to type it all up eventually. I had written six chapters of my novel across four full notepads once and it took forever to type up. I think for me the routine is to just write whenever I can. I love it so much that I spend almost every free moment I have writing something. I think it’s important to just keep writing, I read once somewhere that no writing is a waste, even if you don’t end up using it, because it’s all practice.
LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?
Rory Warwick: Um, Microsoft Word and Dictionary.com. I type everything up on Word, and I sometimes check for the meaning of words on Dictionary.com, other than that there isn’t really anything else I use. I guess I sometimes use Wikipedia for research if I’m trying to make something as accurate as possible. I had to do quite a bit of research for ‘Letters of the Raj’ because it is set in nineteenth century India and I don’t know a whole lot about that period, so things like clothing, names of places and environment benefitted from a few Wikipedia searches. At the risk of sounding cliché I always prefer my pen and a pad.
LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
Rory Warwick: My self-image is by far my biggest challenge and I think it always will be. I often compare myself to other writers, and I always feel like I come up short. Enough rejections will make anybody ask themselves ‘Is it worth carrying on, or am I wasting my time here?’ When I was first inspired to write something big, around 2005, I started to write a crime novel. I spent roughly a year on it, and then when it was finished I started to send it out to agencies and publishers. I racked up ninety seven rejections, and that hurt. By then I believed that some people want to be writers and some people have the skill to be writers, and I was the former. I continued because I love just love writing so much, I’m a writer in my heart, if not by profession. I worked on short stories because if I was going to get rejected, at least I would have invested less time into each story. More rejections followed (of course), but eventually someone said yes. Someone will always say yes, you just have to have the will to keep going, and you can only sustain that for something you’re passionate about. It was such an amazing feeling when Left Hand Publishers accepted my story. It is my first appearance in an anthology, and a big boost to the old self-image.
LHP: Do you have a set number of words per day you target? or do you set other goals to meet?
Rory Warwick: I don’t have word count targets. I have tried them before and I don’t like the restriction. I just keep writing until I’ve had enough. If I’m in a good place I couldn’t imagine stopping because I reached X words for the day, but at the same time, when I’m done, I can’t help but take a peek at the old word count. I guess everyone knows what a good or poor amount of words is for them.
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
Rory Warwick: I prefer short stories but it’s a tough one, the appeals of both are easy to see. It comes down to personal choice, and for my own it’s the challenge of a short story which appeals to me more. Anything can trigger an idea which can then evolve into a story if you work on it, but making it immersive and interesting within the word limit is the fun challenge for me. In my opinion it’s also the best way to train yourself as a writer, you can try new things, different narrative styles, character building techniques, without any pressure to stick with it for the marathon of a novel, it’s like the writer’s sandbox.
LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing” – queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
Rory Warwick: Maybe ten per cent, but that has gone up recently. Like anything you have to learn by yourself as you go, it’s slow and full of mistakes and when you’d rather be doing something else it’s difficult, but it’s also important. I spend time trying to build my presence online, which is hard, but I spend less time seeking an agent or publisher. I have a big spreadsheet, and when a story is finished it goes on the spreadsheet which records who I can send it to, who has rejected it, and how many times each story has been rejected, that helps me stay on top of the short stories. When a story hits the magic 12 rejections, I retire it and focus on the others. I haven’t sought an agent since the ninety seventh rejection for my first attempt at a book, but that was a while ago now, and I have almost finished the first draft of my new novel, so after the third draft is done I guess I’ll have to spend some time on trying to get a publisher or agent.
LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
Rory Warwick: My story in Terrors Unimagined is called “Letters of the Raj”. The inspiration to write it came from my desire to write something different and try to challenge myself as a writer. The story is told mostly in the form of letters from a young British soldier in Calcutta at the end of the nineteenth century, to his wife. On his journey across the Indian subcontinent, he encounters a strange and magical creature which he pursues across the Indian desert. The story is foremost about love and the strength of the human spirit, but I also wanted to write a story about a creature, something original and menacing.
LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
Rory Warwick: The first advice I would give to anyone who asked would be to just keep on keepin’ on. There are a thousand reasons to give up and I imagine a lot of people allow the dream to slowly whittle down over time until it’s just something they do when they have free time, but like anything that you’re passionate and serious about, you have to put in the hours and you have to keep going. Push past the rejections and the self-doubt and just write, everything else is window dressing. At the very least, write for yourself and if success comes, well that’s just icing on the cake.
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Rory Warwick recently authored “Letters of the Raj” for Terrors Unimagined on sale now.