Philip E. Batt


For as long as I can remember I have read and enjoyed books of all kinds, although I mostly enjoy reading fantasy, science fiction and horror.

I guess that I have always written stories, in one form or another but it was only a few years ago that I vowed to tackle that mountain called "the novel". It wasn't that I didn't have any stories, I did, it was more that I wasn't actually sure what the process looked like. That was until I put the effort into looking at creating a process that worked for me.

The result was that the dream that I always had to write that novel had a way of getting from my imagination and down into book format. My first novel "Angels" is the result and "Redemption", the second book in The Highport Sagas, is also now available in ebook format.

I am married, to Yvonne, and live in Bristol, UK, with two dogs and two cats. I also have two grown up children (I don't usually only do things in twos, honestly.)

Smashwords Interview

What is your writing process?
I'm a planner, without doubt. I'm not one of those writers who can sit down and throw out a chapter or even less without understanding what the chapter, or scene is trying to achieve, where it's going and what the ending might look like. In simple terms I like to know what the point of the scene is before I start it.

I start even before the novel outline and collect thoughts and ideas, even themes, pictures, anything that I think will complement the story. Most of it I don't consciously use, but I'm sure it's all gone in there and gets churned up with the rest. Usually, just going through this part starts to generate a first draft outline for the novel. Each part of the novel is a scene outline, to be honest, create enough scenes and I have the novel.

Then, over a period of several months, I build and build on the outline until I have a complete story - no detail yet, though, unless the detail is so important that it has to go in. When I'm sort of happy that the outline is ok, I let it cook for a while.

I try to aim for a scene a day when I'm writing the draft. The reason for that is that I like to play the scene out in my mind, like watching a film, and then when I have a feeling for what happens I just write what I see in my head. But remember, it's a first draft only, so it's usually rubbish. Then, I keep going until all the scenes are written. I don't review what I've written, just plough on. Review is for later.

When the book is done, I let it sit for a while, at least two to four weeks. Then, I read it from start to finish to get a feel for what needs work and what might be ok. I also take a look at the structure - should this scene be there, or should I move it, or even rip it out. I can usually get a feel for things that are missing or bits that need expanding. I always aim for a minimum of 100,000 words, so at this stage, if I'm way off, I know there is still a lot of work to do in the story itself.

Because I spend a lot of time thinking about the outline before I even write, the number of scenes doesn't change much. Maybe add one or two, maybe take one or two away, maybe move a few. Not much though.

The important thing is that the story is the story. Don't try to beef up the number of scenes, unless there really is some big chunk of story missing, but rather go deeper into the story. In other words, explore the scene you have. Usually, there is more dialogue needed, or more description required, or suchlike.

Once I'm happy with this, I start the second draft and add more detail, correct stuff, sort out dialogue or add more - this usually suggests itself, but sometimes you hear the conversation in your head, often in odd places, like in the shower! The point is that you can always work on the novel even if you aren't actually writing - just remember to take a pad and pen to write down any revelations you get.

When that draft is done, repeat. Repeat as many times as you need to, doesn't matter how many, it needs what it needs. I sort of know when I'm reaching something worthy as the corrections stop, the changes quieten, and it's at that point I know I'm ready for my first readers to take a look.

Once they are done, I listen to what they say. If they all say the same, I change it, if not I take a view. I trust my gut though. The story is the story, so if their changes don't make sense against my vision for the book then I ignore it. Usually.

So, there you have it, that's how I write a novel.
How do you approach cover design?
For me, cover design is about a few different elements.

Firstly, I want a good image that suggests something about what the book means to me. It might be a key scene, a suggestion of a place, maybe even a theme. A good way to explain this would be that if a reader saw the image before they read the book they might think that it was a good image, but after they had read the book they might say - "I know that place," or, "Ha! I know what that means now".

Secondly I think a good strapline helps. It needs to be something that suggests the theme of the book, at least that's what I try to do. For instance, my first book, Angels, is really about betrayal, so the strapline suggests that.

Lastly, you want a good font for the title so that it stands out and people might find it interesting when compared to the rest. The size of the fonts matter, too, and the text needs to look balanced on the cover. I play with the cover a lot before I'm happy.
Read more of this interview.

Where to find Philip E. Batt online



Series: The Highport Sagas, Book 2. Price: Free! Words: 110,430. Language: British English. Published: April 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General
Winterburne's life is falling apart around him...he's lost his job...he's lost his woman...and now war has come to the Empire. What else could possibly go wrong?
Series: The Highport Sagas, Book 1. Price: Free! Words: 107,350. Language: British English. Published: October 14, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » General, Fiction » Adventure » General
The Empire is on the brink of war...the City Watch and the Imperial Guard regularly exchange blows...and what did the palace maid hear that meant she had to die?...Welcome to Highport!

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