Title: Tall Oaks Author: Chris Whitaker Published: 7th April 2016 Publisher: twenty7
Today I have the pleasure of being on the tour for Tall Oaks by Chris Whittaker sharing his journey from reader to writer. Don't forget to follow along with the tour; all stops listed below.
The Move from Reader to Writer
When I was two years old I ate the entire jacket of a book. It was a Spot the Dog book, one of my brother’s favourites, and I devoured it in one sitting. My mum took a picture shortly before I vomited up the barcode. I look happy in it. So I suppose my love of books began at a really young age.
I’ve always been an avid reader, I think as a writer you have to be. Reading a good book is inspiring, reading a bad book is encouraging (well, he/she managed to get a publishing deal!)
When I was at school my love of reading soon led to a love of writing. Every day I’d ask the teacher to set us creative writing homework. Needless to say I was one of the popular kids. We had an author come and talk to us once, I can’t remember his name but he gave a really inspirational speech (then ruined it by charging an extra 50p if we wanted him to sign a copy of his book). I remember thinking how lucky he was, that he got to tell stories for a living.
I wrote some bits and pieces in my late teens, all of it bad enough to see me head into the city and pursue a career in finance (yawn). So I buried my dream for a while, though every time I picked up a book it surfaced again.
When I turned thirty I decided I’d give it a proper go. I quit my job (scary) and then proceeded to write some of the worst fiction known to man. Really, really awful stuff. I threw cliché after cliché at each story, gave little thought to structure and even less to pacing.
I persevered though, writing hundreds of thousands of words, printing them out, reading them back and then feeding them to the shredder.
It was only when I sat down and gave real thought to the type of writer I wanted to be that something clicked. I like to read crime, but am also a fan of any book that can make me laugh. So with that in mind I began to work out a rough plot for Tall Oaks.
Then I sat down and began to write it. For the first time it wasn’t a struggle and I started to really enjoy the process. I wrote a first draft in four weeks, then spent a further six months editing it. I worked on characterisation, on narrative and dialogue and making sure the plot holes were filled in. I knew it was better than anything I’d written before.
Looking back now I think the problem had always been that I was trying to emulate my favourite writers rather than find a style of my own. As soon as I did, the long and difficult journey from reader to writer suddenly felt entirely worthwhile.