Writing What You Love With Derek Prior

Writing What You Love With Derek Prior

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About Derek Prior

I was born in the south of England but now live in the US. I’ve worked as an actor, mental health nurse, and personal trainer.

I wrote my first novel while I was living in Western Australia in 2003.

My first real success was with a short story published in Pulp Empire, which I followed up with the five novellas that comprised the series Chronicles of the Nameless Dwarf. The series was picked up for an Amazon Daily Deal and several Book Bub featured deals and went on to sell extremely well.

On the strength of those sales, I worked with an agent for several years, during which time I wrote several full length Nameless Dwarf novels and some non-dwarf fantasy. The Codex of Her Scars was picked up by Audible Studios and narrated by Steven Pacey.

I’m currently working on three new Nameless Dwarf novels, and a series called Death’s Fugitive. I also do a fair bit of ghost writing on the side.

See their work:

How And When Did You Get Started Writing?

I started writing at age 13 but never managed to finish anything. I set myself the goal of completing my first novel when I moved to Australia for a few years. This was achieved with The Resurrection of Deacon Shader (subsequently rewritten as Sword of the Archon, Best Laid Plans, and The Unweaving).

What Does Literary Success Look Like To You?

My idea of success in writing has changed over the years. At first it was simply a matter of completing a novel; then it was selling 15 copies over the lifetime of the book (!) I later achieved unexpected success when the Nameless Dwarf books went on to sell more than 700,000 copies and I was able to give up the day job and commit to writing full-time.

Currently, success is all about connecting with my readers (I have a wonderfully loyal fanbase) and giving them more of the kinds of books they like to read. Their feedback often influences the direction of future stories, especially in the Nameless Dwarf series.

I’ve been very fortunate, in that my royalties cover my living costs and enable my family to live a fairly quiet life in the pursuit of self-sufficiency.

What Actionable Tips And Tricks Do You Have For New Writers That They Can Apply Now On Their Journey As Budding Writers?

I find it helpful to write with minimal distraction by first-drafting scenes on my Neo2 word processor. I then upload to Scrivener on my Mac for an immediate second draft. The Neo2 helps keep me writing without thinking too much, second guessing myself, and editing as I go.

It’s important to keep redrafting, self-editing, and paring back unnecessary words, repetitive phrases and action. I aim for succinctness (not always successfully). Less is generally more in fiction writing.

Ideally, make use of an editor and proof reader, but if that’s an expense you can’t afford, read up on self-editing, and ideally wait a few weeks before you revise after completing a draft.

Try to understand point of view and be consistent with point of view throughout a scene.

These days, I only write the sorts of books I personally enjoy and try not to take myself too seriously. In the past, I played the game and tried to guess what kinds of books publishers were looking for. It was neither wise nor fun. If your book is good, and if you can work out how best to market it, it will sell. If it sells well enough and the money starts coming in, you can bet publishers will want in on the action, especially in these risk-averse times for the industry.

What Are Common Traps For Aspiring Writers?

Rather than writing to be published, write what you love. At times, the two may overlap, but try to tell your own unique tales, with your own unique characters and voice. Do not be literary. Think of yourself as a storyteller and entertainer.

Some aspiring writers get hung up on producing the perfect masterpiece. Just tell your story. Have fun with the first draft. The real work begins with the second draft, and it continues through as many drafts as it takes. There is no hurry. Enjoy revising.

Also, be aware that the industry is in a massive state of flux. Be flexible. If you are hellbent on a traditional publishing deal, consider being a hybrid author and releasing some material as an indie. Experiment with different retail platforms and subscription models (for better or worse, this seems to be the direction most entertainment is headed right now).

If You Could Tell Your Younger Writing Self Anything, What Would It Be?

Stop head-hopping! Don’t use big words that no one understands or cares about. And get it into your head that characters work in relationship with other characters. Emotion is the ass that carried the ark, as someone wise once said.

What Are Your Favorite Books? Fiction And/ Or Non-Fiction?

Orthodoxy by G.K. Chesterton. Belloc’s The Four Men. 1984. Brideshead Revisited. Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield. Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon novels.

Anything You’d Like To Plug?

Dead Dwarves Don’t Die (Book 8 in the Annals of the Nameless Dwarf series) is currently up for pre-order: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08TYGF71K/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0

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