Interview with Peter McLennan

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I mainly grew up in Canberra, Australia. The most obvious outworking of this is that my stories often deal with issues that are topical in Australia, although many are global in nature (such as climate change). I tend to choose Australian settings: they say you should write what you know.

Canberra is the centre of Government in Australia, and political issues often insinuate their way into my writing even when I'd rather that they didn't!
When did you first start writing?
I started writing seriously after I retired from the Australian Defence Force in 2008. That said, I'd been granted some excellent opportunities during my time in Defence with the result that I'd already had a couple of books published.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My current work-in-progress is a sequel to my first novel. I wanted to start on a sequel so I could show potential publishers that I was serious about writing. By the time I decided to self-publish, I'd invested so much time and effort into the sequel that I figured I should continue with it.

I dislike sequels that essentially retell the story from their predecessor, so I went to a lot of trouble to distinguish my present work from the first volume. The nature of the inner conflict now facing the protagonist is actually the opposite of what he dealt with originally, and the topic of the main plot from the original now only appears in a sub-plot.
What are you working on next?
I intend to finish the novel I'm currently working on, which has similar themes to its predecessor (ie, young adult, environmental drama). If this work is successful, I will probably stick with this genre; if not, I may try my hand at hard science fiction for adult readers.
What is your writing process?
I'm a planner. (I've got a PhD in planning, so how could I be otherwise?) The plot outline for my current novel is itself over 20,000 words, and includes detailed notes for every scene. I write profiles for every main character and setting, and work through checklists prior to drafting every scene. I use a spreadsheet to keep track of the time at which each scene takes place, and I maintain a massive diagram that shows the dependencies between all of the scenes.

Once I'm happy with the plan, I draft the manuscript. This is a relatively straightforward process of turning notes into prose.

Once the manuscript is completely drafted, I edit, review, edit, review, edit, review, ...
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. I'm not writing for my own benefit, but to be read.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Positive feedback! If anyone even takes the time to read my writing, I feel complimented. I like to make people think, and if a reader tells me that I achieved that, I'm more than happy.

I also enjoy the sense of satisfaction I feel from completing a large project. On a smaller scale, even crafting a paragraph that I like gives me a nice little high.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
To be honest, inability to interest a traditional publisher! That said, I do like the total control I have over the indie publishing process.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords was my first choice for self-publishing because of its wide distribution network and flexible pricing structure. The plethora of available download formats means that anyone with any electronic device should be able to access my work.
How do you approach cover design?
I design my own covers, partly to save money, partly because it's easier to get what I want, and partly because it's fun.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a geek. I like developing computer programs and playing computer games (all of which I do badly). I also dabble with playing and composing music. I like to go for a run every day—you'd be surprised how many writing ideas come to me when running!
Published 2013-09-04.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Who Will Save the Planet?
By
Price: Free! Words: 50,870. Language: English. Published: April 7, 2012. Category: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues
Fourteen-year-old Jason can’t work out how to get climate change fixed—until he saves the life of the mysterious and powerful Graham. Graham promises a reward, and Jason asks him to do something to stop climate change. The request is caught by the media, so Jason thinks the man’s trapped and has to keep his word. But Graham’s got other ideas. Jason’s got a fight on his hands.