Interview with Neil Shooter

What is your writing process?
I prefer to write out the first draft of anything by hand. The words flow better, and quicker, and the limitations of space and inconvenience stop me from going back and editing. If I write a first draft electronically, it is so easy to glance up the page, and just fix this one error, and oh that would sound better if I did that instead, and before you know it your flow has ebbed.
My second draft is the "typing up" version, with edits and revisions as I go.
I have to give "percolation" time between drafts, so that the words are fresh when I reread them, and so I can notice typos and other small errors.
You can never check too many times!
How do you approach cover design?
My favourite book covers have always been ones with bold colours, or unique artwork. Growing up, I had a set of Foundation novels, and I loved how the alien tree in the foreground grew with the city in the background. So with my own covers, I have tried to make striking or beautiful images, and to have clear links between the covers of connected stories.
The original covers of Causality and Probability were created using Photoshop, and at the time I was extremely pleased with them. Since publishing them, I've painted replacements, with a theme of a sky and a certain constellation.
With Homeless, I wanted something stark and bold.
With The Visitor, I wanted something dark and mysterious. Although I was pleased with the work I did on it, the darkness doesn't work well in the sizes most often viewed.
I used my own photographs for January 2016 Volume 1, and Five Miles Out Of Black Creek, and I'm very happy with how they turned out.
When did you first start writing?
I've always written. I don't remember a time when I didn't write. We had to write stories in school from an early age, and I just kept doing it. I remember the first story that I wrote that seems to have any kind of plot, is something that today would be called fan-fiction, a story about Captain Kirk and the Enterprise, and a pair of planets that were physically connected by some kind of tube. When I showed it to my friend, he made fun of the way Kirk ordered their departure, telling me that he should have said something about the heading. He was right, of course, or so I thought at the time. Since then a number of different starship captains have given very vague, ambiguous or humorous orders at the end of an episode, so perhaps I was right after all.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Writing makes me feel like me. Whether writing with a pen, or typing on a computer, the action of putting my words and thoughts out into some kind of physical realm is a seductive and compelling feeling. And then there are times, those rare wonderful times, where the words are there quicker than you can write them, as if they are pouring from you fully formed, fully composed, from some other place or person, and you are simply scribbling them down as fast you can. This flow is the greatest joy of writing, when it seems you are simply recording the words of some higher impulse or personage, springing fully formed like Aphrodite from the waves.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Needing to pee? I love sleeping, and I laze in half-sleep as long as I can. I'm lucky to have some flexibility in the time I get up, rather than the rude awakenings of alarm clocks or the like. So it is nature that drags me out of bed. Unless I have an idea. When I wake with an idea, I am single-minded in my search for pen and paper. It is a race against time, after all.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Wishing I was writing, thinking about writing, or reading. My life has plenty of distractions, of one kind or another, so the wishing is by far the largest part.
Describe your desk
A cacophony of paper, swirling like autumn leaves, gathering against the wall, and tumbling to the floor. I have a conundrum, though: how do I bring order to this kaleidoscope of chaos?
Published 2016-12-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Long Night
Price: $1.29 USD. Words: 5,570. Language: English. Published: December 4, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
The human colony world of Paradise is a frigid mockery of habitable. Commander Carter Jensen's mission to escort a wayward professor back to Eden Base to face justice has taken too long, and night is about to fall. The alien shipwreck is their only chance of escaping the Shearers and surviving the night. But the alien ship haunts Jensen's mind, constantly whispering to him. Are the voices real?
Price: $1.29 USD. Words: 11,360. Language: English. Published: November 7, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Thriller & Suspense, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Claudia, Melanie, and Daphne. Just three girls walking side by side, intent on each other, and the game they are about to play: Catch. Anyone with an up-to-date phone can play. Not just thirteen-year-old girls. This is the game's strength, and its weakness.
366 Story Seeds
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 10,190. Language: English. Published: October 1, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Inspiration » General self-help, Nonfiction » Reference » Writing skills
An idea is only the first step. Questions build stories. You must interrogate an idea, and learn to see it from different angles. You need to find the story within the setting. The more you do, the better you do. The best way to learn to do something is to do it over and over again. If you write 366 stories, it is surely impossible for them all to be bad?
Annual 2016
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 18,240. Language: English. Published: February 10, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
Annual 2016 is a year in the writing life of me! The Annual includes two published short stories, "Five Miles out of Black Creek" and "The Visitor", several more gems from the Vault, a poem, and a few sneak peaks of what might be to come.
Five Miles Out Of Black Creek
Price: $1.29 USD. Words: 5,070. Language: English. Published: December 30, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(3.50 from 2 reviews)
Dean Rand is in a bit of a slump. Can this next story save his bacon? Dr. Chang's dirty white farmhouse in the middle of nowhere? Well, in the middle of Hamilton County, five miles out of Black Creek. Why would a scientist want to live here? Or work here?
January 2016 - Volume 1 - Eleven Short Stories
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 28,870. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author, Fiction » Erotica » General
Terror, humanity, fallibility, love, sex, despair, regret, sacrifice, grief, deceit, and hope. Eleven short stories of distant planets, desperate futures, ancient magic, lost souls, shattered dreams, vain hopes, and bad decisions.
The Visitor
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 4,630. Language: English. Published: January 6, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(5.00 from 1 review)
On an ordinary blustery British night an extraordinary visitor comes, a time traveller, with a paradox. But time is relative.
Annual 2013
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 40,800. Language: English. Published: January 26, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
This collection is an Annual, a review of my writing life in 2013, including all short stories published in 2013, interviews, blurbs, some gems out of my Vault, and excerpts of some of the things that are coming soon!
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 6,830. Language: English. Published: November 9, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
Winter didn't end, but his world has. Is he completely alone? In a world gone cold, what can keep the spark of life shining?
The Kinnon Gate ( a short story)
Price: Free! Words: 7,210. Language: English. Published: May 22, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Short stories
From all over the Kinnon, they have been magically Called to a wintry square in a deserted city, but by whom, and why?
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,680. Language: English. Published: February 15, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic
His eyes are filled with recognition even though they have never met. She knows it's not possible, but it's happening anyway. It makes no sense, and yet it is real. They shared a dream, but how much of it will come true?
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 3,760. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(4.00 from 1 review)
A dream of desolation and death. A nightmare vision of a looming end, surrounded by hidden enemies and desperate strangers. His love taken. His hope lost. His life forfeit because of his failures, his inadequacies. How can this end be a beginning? And how can a dream seem so real?