Guest Post: Hamish Spiers

Hi everyone. I’m Hamish Spiers and as some of you may know, I’m an indie author. Presently my work is available through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and it is mostly, but not entirely, science fiction. It therefore doesn’t quite fit the style of what you’ll see here at Drugstore Books but nonetheless, Paul and Andrew have kindly provided me with this chance to introduce myself to you all – and I’m very grateful to them for this opportunity and to you, my fellow readers, as well.

What initially drew me into writing was the thrill of creating whole new ‘worlds’, whether they were far off planets, completely imaginary realms of fantasy or even just somewhere here in the present that was mostly the same but not quite – just as the London of Sherlock Holmes was mostly but not quite the same as the London of his creator, Arthur Conan Doyle. The joy of it for me has always been, at the core, the aspect of escapism such world–building provides. The idea that you can pick up a story, whether it be a full length novel or a Dr. Seuss book, and for a time be transported away from the here and now is a wonderful thing for me and it always has been.

Over the years, I have also come to appreciate how this world–building allows you to explore many of the issues that face us in real life as well. For instance, if you have read any speculative fiction about dystopian futures with corrupt corporations that crush the lives of ordinary people to extend their profits, there is a reason those stories fill you with a sense of dread. We’ve seen these types of corporations in the here and now. The people in the imaginary worlds of fiction can be real too. If you are a fan of Terry Pratchett, for instance, you know most of the characters in his books. Sure, they have different names and live in a world with a tad more magic and mysticism than our own but you’ve met them on many occasions.

I love world–building. There is a sense of purity to the process. You establish your own rules so no matter how grounded or far out your worlds are, you have some internal consistency in place. Then, before you know it, you have a functional world that for your intents and purposes is every bit as real as the one we live in now. In my ‘Star Frontier’ series, this ‘world’ is actually comprised of many worlds. In my crime–fighting adventure ‘The Sentinel’, the world is simply a fictional city here in present day society. However, the process is the same and no matter what the story may be, the act of creation is always a thrill.

The second thing that attracts me to writing is the sense of discovery that accompanies the process of creation. Why does a certain character behave the way they do? What would happen next in a given situation? Is it what you said would happen next in your plot outline or is the story about to veer off into unchartered territory? You often find the answers as you write and I get a real kick out of the fact that my stories don’t always go where I think they will. Stephen King said it well in ‘On Writing’, his excellent resource for authors, where he likened it to unearthing a fossil. You dig a little as you think of your ideas; you discover things you weren’t aware of. Then you dig a little more and find that the fossil is far larger than you thought. The processes of creating, bringing people and places to life, and discovering are truly wonderful things. I am sure many of you reading know the feeling.

However, where would writing be without some type of driving purpose? That’s important as well. There are many reasons to write, many noble reasons and many not–so–noble reasons as well but let’s consider good reasons for sitting down and penning a short story or a novel. Some authors use their work to inform. Some use it to study the human psyche, while others wish to change your entire outlook on life through their stories. Done well and with good intentions, these are all noble goals but I cannot claim any of them to be my own goals. If you find allegories in my work or profound messages that change your entire life for the better, then that is wonderful but they are not there by design. Either their presence is entirely incidental or in the eye of the reader. I am certain many of my views on life will occasionally surface in my work but that is not particularly noteworthy either. Almost every author I have ever read, even the most detached ones, leave such ‘fingerprints’ on their work. Rather, the ultimate goal of my writing is to take the reader on a journey, allow them to forget their troubles for a short time, and entertain them… and that, I believe, is a noble goal as well. After all, what is life without any fun?

 

Next week, Andrew Oberg returns from a difficult summer spent translating Proust to Esperanto .

 

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One Comment

  1. Andrew Oberg
    Posted September 21, 2012 at 1:48 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the post, Hamish! And the best of luck with your books!

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