writing process

Category: writing process

Swimming with Horses Blog

How did you research your book?

They say that you should write what you know, and I think that this is either good advice or bad, depending on the circumstances. If writers wrote only what they knew, we’d have no Lord of the Rings, no Chronicles of Narnia, and precious little science fiction. (We might not even have the Bible.)

On the other hand, the things you know best are apt to contain the most powerful forces in your life. Why not harness them?

Writing is a lonely effort. While the raw material for Blamed and Broken came from countless hours spent talking to other people, translating their words into a coherent and undeniable narrative fell solely to me. It was difficult. Not just because the scope of the book spans more than a decade in the lives of so many people. Not because it required a fresh look at thousands of pages of documents that had either been hidden or carted off to archives.

At the end of 1993, I was travelling in Kenya with my girlfriend. During a stopover in Mombasa, we walked to an industrial section of the city overlooking the port. Because it was Sunday, everything was quiet, but we noticed an old dhow anchored away from the docks. From our position, we could distinguish a large group of people crammed on the deck, trying to protect themselves from the hot midday sun. Adults, children… Somalis, we learned.

White Jade Tiger

To celebrate the upcoming 25th anniversary of White Jade Tiger, Dundurn is publishing a new edition — complete with a brand new cover. The text got a makeover too.

It’s not often (actually never) that I get to tweak a manuscript years after it’s been published. I’d reread the book a few times, but one reads differently in editor mode, and I was astounded by what I discovered. It wasn’t the typos (a couple) or unnecessary space breaks or excessive adjectives (that I happily cut). It was the memories.