Name Deane Saunders-Stowe
Where are you from
I grew up in the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire, but now live in Ross-on-Wye, Herefordshire.
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I don’t have a formal education that relates to writing, however at college I studied physics, maths (briefly), chemistry, and art. I presently work for a software development company that has a strong foundation in behaviourism and this has helped to provide inspiration for some of my writing scenarios. I live with my partner, Kris, who is a wheelchair user and disability fitness instructor.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m working on the sequel to my first book and have recently finished the first draft. Now the hard slog of structural editing begins!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing in 2013 after watching the DVD box-set of Babylon 5 – one of my favourite 90’s sci-fi series. I had a yearning for a long-term project of some kind for the last few years, and writing seemed to be the sort of thing that would have enough detail. There was no way I thought I could manage it, but I realised writing is probably just a skill that can be learnt, so I picked up a few books about writing techniques, began jotting down notes about characters and scenarios as they popped into my head, and started from there.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Not until I’d actually received back my edited manuscript from my editor and begun typesetting it ready for self-publishing. Of course, realistically, I should have thought of myself as a writer as soon as i started spending hours and hours actually writing!
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
As above, re-watching a lot of sci-fi prompted the initial spark, but the plot elements, characters and setting came in a slow trickle. Once I had the idea for a handful of characters, then it all started to fall into place and I decided I needed to start writing something that resembled a plot.
Part of my initial inspiration was ‘what would happen if magic were real? How would it work?’ I sat and thought about how an invisibility spell might work. What would happen to you if food you ate didn’t become invisible, but incorporated into your cells in a visible state. The logical progression gave me a great idea for a character and the potential for blending sci-fi with magic in a sensible way.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
So far, I’ve tended to write third-person. I find it gives a fair amount of flexibility. I can write very close point of view if I want the reader to feel what the character is feeling, but also pull back from the action if I want something more of a ‘panoramic’ shot when there’s a lot going on. It also gives me the ability to hop from one character to another (when appropriate, of course) rather than getting stuck in one head. I rarely quote thoughts, since I find it unrealistic to read the exact words that someone is thinking, and instead prefer to blend it with the narrative for a more seamless and closer feel.
I try to format my writing as though I’m watching a movie. I’ll break my paragraphs when the imaginary camera cuts to a different shot, be that from one person to another, zooming in on an object to describe it, or to pull out to give a longer description of the landscape as it rolls past the panning camera.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Synthesis: Weave came about as two concepts that are in the book. Synthesis being a blend of two types of thing (namely technology and magic) and the Weave being the intangible structure of the living universe as known by one of the races in the book.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Kind of. That everything follows rules and, whilst those rules mean that everything can be predicted, there is still room for surprise and wonder. Oh, and to never accept the limitations others impose – you’re capable of more than you think.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
For a science fiction novel, a surprising amount! The initial scenes of my primary character’s recruitment is a metaphor for my own recruitment for the role in which I now work. There are characters whose appearance/attitude/personality are based on people I know. The interactions between some of the characters are also based on those relationships, which helps to make them more realistic.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Ursula K. Le Guin’s Earthea series has been a big influence, as have Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov’s novels and short stories. As a child, John Gordon’s The Giant Under The Snow had me running around the playground, arms outstretched, pretending that I could fly and see the fields like a patchwork quilt below me. Jasper Fforde’s The Eyre Affair showed me that there are many things that are possible in literature that could never be achieved on screen.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Admittedly I’ve not read a huge quantity of contemporary science fiction or fantasy, but recently Michael Cobley’s Seeds of Earth landed on my bookshelf and gripped me with its vivid descriptions of alien forests and archaeological sites. His ability to create images of strange creatures, largely through the perfect choice of name, transported me to his worlds easily.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Some of my work colleagues have liked my novel and tried to help promote it through social meda, and during my early drafts I had favourable responses from a literary agent that helped me to focus my efforts in the right places. Other than that, it’s mostly been my family that have had to put up with me going on about my writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
If I were earning enough from it that I wouldn’t have to work full-time in my regular job, I would. However, that not being the case, it’s more a labour of love. I think if all I did was write, I might get a little bored after a time, so it’s nice to have it as something to dip in and out of.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Being at the first draft stage of the current book, I can see things I’d change in the previous one, especially as my characters have developed. My style has changed a little, too – I’d probably put more description in, focusing on the appearance of characters rather than leave quite so much to the reader’s imagination.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Some of my first forays into playing computer games was in the days of the text adventure (now more often called interactive fiction). I loved walking through environments with lavish descriptions and decided to have a go at writing one. Back in 2004 I entered the Interactive Fiction Competition (IFComp) and came 7th out of 37. At that point I thought my strength lay in description rather than plot, action, or dialogue.
I loved the idea that you could put images, thoughts, and feelings into a persons head, simply by writing something they would read and re-enact in their imagination. That’s still a powerful motivating force for me
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I find it very difficult to write action. I don’t know whether I’ve written it well, and I find it incredibly tiring to go through the process – I feel as though I’m in the fight scene itself and become exhausted, or I can’t quite visualise exactly what needs to happen in the right sequence. Trying to balance conveying information with action is also something I find really hard.
Since one of my characters is disabled, it’s also been quite difficult to portray his strengths and weaknesses in a positive fashion, whilst giving people a role model. In sci-fi there is a tendency to fix disabilities, or to give disabled characters amazing powers that effectively bypass the struggles they face on a daily basis and end up with them being pretty much able-bodied. With Aryx (the wheelchair-using second protagonist, inspired by my partner) the problem was how to have him still use a wheelchair in a futuristic setting. I effectively had to contrive a situation in which he doesn’t have to be ‘fixed’ as a logical outcome of the setting’s technology, but to instead provide realistic challenges that he could overcome and, in turn, become a hero.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Aside from the occasional book fair or sci-fi convention, not really. I do like to have a change of scenery sometimes when writing, as I find it gets me out of my regular head-space, and makes it easier to be in a different frame of mind. Most of my writing ends up being done in fairly busy settings, such as in a gym café, between helping my partner set up his classes.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I had two cover revisions for Synthesis: Weave, both of which I designed myself. The first version was a silhouette of a tree with the protagonists standing beside it, with a green crescent moon to give the sci-fi feel. It was alright, but I didn’t feel it was punchy enough.
Kris actually suggested that he do a photo shoot for a scene from the book which, after being used in some promo images for social media, ended up becoming the new cover. The green moon was retained, as was the backlit glow from the setting sun, but the colours became more vibrant and detailed.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Having to realise that in places I’d written too much that had become purely sentimental and slowed it down – then having to slice it all out. It was much better afterwards.
I find plotting a pain, too. And creating a map of space / calculating travel times between stars. I agonised over that for weeks.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
Nobody really cares about travel times between stars.
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Tom Hiddleston would make a good Sebastian (the first protagonist). I’ve got a whole host of actors that I have lined up for the others!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t worry about what you write. Nothing is set in stone unless you actually carve it in stone and put it in a place where everyone can see it. It’s fine to think the first draft of your book/story is rubbish: it’s the job of editing to make it into something worth reading.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Regardless of whether you pay more attention to science or religion, realise that the universe is still full of mystery and that there is plenty to marvel at and appreciate, regardless of how it all came about.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
I’m pretty sure it was The Giant Under The Snow by John Gordon. It was read to my class at school when I was five or six years old, and I remember taking it out from the library shortly after to read myself.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I must admit to laughing at funny accident videos – tragedy and timing is the esscence of comedy, after all! What makes me cry? Certain instrumental music that grabs me if I try to sing to it, and thinking about what life would be like without Kris.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Alan Turing, if only to tell him of the wonderful impact he’d have on the world, and to see what his reaction might be (and whether he could impart some insight into what could come next).
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
I don’t want a head stone. I prefer to hope that I’ll be remembered for what I’ve written and done.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Computer programming and computer graphics (especially 3d, although I’ve lost the knack a bit). I got into surfing a few years ago and had a brief stint at skateboarding after Kris bought me a skateboard so that I could join him on the skatepark when he used his stunt wheelchair. I learnt to sew and knit (quite well, if I do say so myself) and have made medieval costumes so that I could take part in medieval re-enactments. Time is very limited nowadays and many of those hobbies have dropped by the wayside. I tend only to get time to play computer games now.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
A lot of sci-fi and fantasy. I recently got into Supernatural and am presently re-watching Stargate. I like a varied mix of films from romantic comedy to sci-fi and horror. One of my most recent favourites was Oblivion (Tom Cruise) – the setting was perfect and I love the ambiance the film evokes.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I like a variety of foods, but I’m partial to seafood when I eat out. There’s also something about KFC … Favourite colour: green (not bright, but most muted shades). Music? I tend to like soundtrack/instrumental, and have got into 65daysofstatic – I’ve written a lot to their music.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
I’m happy with my day-job and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. Graphics and programming hold my attention well.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?