Today I have a special treat for you. Take an inside look at the way of Ms Bryony Pearce’s The Weight of Souls!
Road map to The Weight of Souls by Bryony Pearce
In a group of people I am the go-to person for a pen or piece of paper, because everyone knows I’m a writer, but as my friends are starting to learn, I’ll be the last person to have something.
I often feel like a bit of a failure; as if I am letting the artistic image down. I feel as if I should always have a pencil poked into my curly hair, a notebook stuffed in my knickers, a bic in my bra. But I am perhaps a slightly unusual writer in that when I am in the process of percolating a story I take no notes. I just my brain get on with it, putting the pieces together, until finally I get a bit of a Eureka moment and I know I have something cohesive.
When I get that moment, that’s when you’ll find me frantically scrambling for a notebook.
The way my story-telling brain works is that I will develop a character first. They often appear in my head pretty much fully formed. I know what they look like and what their ‘problem’ is: I knew that Cassie from Angel’s Fury had been reincarnated, I knew that Taylor from The Weight of Souls saw ghosts, I knew that Kane (from my new work in progress) was able to jump between worlds. Then these characters live in my brain, occasionally yelling at me, until I can work out the story that needs to be told about them. That is what I am always seeking inspiration for – the puzzle pieces that form my character’s complete story.
When I have the outline of a story ready to go in my head I write down a one page synopsis, then I sit down and complete a chapter by chapter outline. That’s when you’ll find me doing research and taking notes.
For the Weight of Souls I did several strands of research:
Background – A refresher course on Egyptian Mythology
Setting – I had to revisit London to make sure that my memory of the city matched with its current incarnation.
Genetics – how Taylor’s family genes could have been altered and the mechanics of passing the curse on from parent to child.
Crowd Behaviour Theory and the theory of Deindividuation – how the V-club could have such control over its members.
Chinese gods, ancient religion and naming conventions (much of that did not end up in the final book as I had to remove the prologue which was all about Taylor’s Chinese ancestor, but some of it remains – Oh-Fa mentions the I-Ching and calls Anubis the ‘greatest of the lords of death’ and the name of Taylor’s mother, Emma-Oh, reflects the name of the wrathful Chinese god Yama who, in Japan, became known as Emma (for a more on my naming conventions please go to Sons of Corax –http://sonsofcorax.wordpress.com/ – on the 5thAugust where I have a whole blog post on how I chose the names of my characters in The Weight of Souls).
I then had to spend time making up some of my own ‘world rules’
1. The ‘rules’ of the ghost’s interactions with the world (for more on that visit Death Books and Tea –http://deathbooksandtea.blogspot.co.uk/p/about-us.html – on 27th July)
The ‘rules’ of Taylor’s own curse?
The ‘rules’ and history of the V-club (for more on that, visit Reading Under the Stars – http://readingunderthestars.blogspot.co.uk/ –, also on 27th July)
A bit of extra mythology – how did Anubis end up in the tomb, how can he escape etc.
Once I have the whole book plotted out, that’s when I sit down and start writing. I need to plot properly because I have very little time in the day to write (I have two children) and when I do get some spare time I need to know exactly what has to happen in that chapter and where it needs to go so that I can just get on with it), I also like to do lots of foreshadowing and literary allusion so it is important to me to know what is going to happen later in the book.
I don’t know how I compare to other writers in that regard. Occasionally I am shocked when I speak to my literary friends and discover quite how different we all are. Steve Feasey (author of the Changeling series) for example, does not plot at all and cannot comprehend the way that I write: it is as mystifying to him as not plotting is to me. Jon Mayhew (author of The Bonehill Curse and Demon Collector) does plot, but he prefers to write his favourite scenes first, then go back and fill in the parts he is less excited about. He recently told me that he literally has gaps in his works in progress that say ‘They travel. Stuff happens.’ I could never do that. I have to write in a linear way.
So I hope you enjoy The Weight of Souls and this piece of insight into how I write.
If you would like to know more about me or my work, please visit my website www.bryonypearce.co.uk, join the conversation onTwitter @BryonyPearce or like myfacebook page BryonyPearceAuthor.