How long did you work on this book?
I worked on Birth of a Killer for more than three years! But I was actually toying around with ideas for it at least two or three years earlier than that! That sort of time frame isn't unusual for me. Although I release at least two books every year, I spend an average of two to three years working on every one of them. I'm able to juggle several books around at the same time. To give you an idea of how I work, I wrote the first draft of Birth in January 2007. I then left it alone for several months and went and wrote the first drafts of the next three books in The Saga Of Larten Crepsley. Then I returned to the first book and edited it. I then edited the next three. I then left the books alone for a few more months and worked on something else. Then I returned, did another edit of the books, and so on and so on for the next couple of years. It might sound chaotic, but it works for me!
How was your journey to publication? Long, short, how many rejections?
Loads of rejections! I don't think you can really enjoy your success as a writer if you haven't been widely rejected to begin with! My first published book for children, Cirque Du Freak, was actually turned down by twenty different publishers before it was accepted! You have to take rejection on the chin, believe in yourself, and just keep going. If every writer gave up at their first few rejection slips, I don't think there would be any books on the shelves in bookstores across the world!
What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?
The most important thing is to write. It's like training yourself to play a sport -- let's take soccer as an example. You can watch lots of soccer games, analyse tactics, spend months or years formulating a game plan inside your head. But it's all meaningless unless you go out on a pitch and train and develop your muscles and skills. A soccer player has to put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes before they can earn the right to go out and play a 90 minute match. Writing's the same. Understanding the theory of writing -- i.e. reading lots of books, studying literature, playing around with ideas for stories -- is certainly helpful, but worthless unless you're prepared to sit and actually write. You need to experiment, try different types of stories, test out different approaches. Don't be afraid to write bad stories. It's a learning process. You need to make mistakes in order to learn from them and advance.
What has surprised you most about becoming a published author?
One of the most surprising things has been the success of my stories in different countries. When I started out, I had no idea that people in Japan and Indonesia and Hungary and the Netherlands and Taiwan and so many other countries might be interested in the imagination of a young guy from rural Ireland. As my books have grown in popularity across the globe, and as I've travelled widely and met lots of my fans, I've come to realise that despite the trappings of our culture, we're all very much the same under the surface. We react to stories in the same way. We have the same dreams and aspirations and fears and hopes. I think books are a great way for people to come together, regardless of their backgrounds or circumstances. They can over-ride all sorts of other obstacles and sometimes bridge massive gaps. For instance, while I've no love for the current Iranian political regime, my books are published in Iran (albeit illegally!) and have been hugely popular there. Those sorts of connections -- the meetings of minds through a shared love of books -- are priceless in my opinion.