JG Parker has lived and written in London, Sheffield, Edinburgh and Houston, Texas, and now lives in the quiet depths of Northamptonshire surrounded by rolling fields and forests that go on forever and are likely to be home to any number of natural (and possibly supernatural) creatures. Dark Peak is JG Parker's first novel.
What is your writing process?
I'm episodic and collage-centric! What I mean is I write in episodes of about 1,500 to 2000 words per session (usually everyday, but not always - but certainly everyday as deadlines loom!) and then I collage them together. I've tried writing sequentially - and I'm very jealous of those writers who do – but I just end up hitting wall after wall (a bit like Jake in Dark Peak). I generally start off with an image or phrase or snippet of conversation between the characters, and then I let the line go for a walk. I'm not a planner or mapper - I find if I do this, then all the fun and wonder of the writing has gone into the plan and I have nothing left for the story.
Before I start I do a lot of research on my primary subject (which often becomes a backdrop to the book as well as forming a large part of the main characters) and as I write and develop the story and characters I continue researching. I don't just want facts, I like pictures or little anecdotes and storylets to make up my research - I spent a lot of time in the Peak District when I was writing Dark Peak, and many of the scenes at Peak Cavern (the Devil's Arse in the book) come from real events – and I like the research to be wide reaching (the idea of Limestone's map came from a BBC documentary about the power of maps and the exhibition at the British Library that accompanied it). I'm working on the next Elemental and to add to my research I thought I'd tweet to see if anyone in the twittersphere has some lovely factoids or theories about clouds - I'm looking forward to seeing what comes back.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the very first story, no I can't remember that, but Tove Jansson's 'Moominvalley in November' (and all the Moomin books in fact) has stayed with me since primary school. It's haunting and bleak and very evocative of loss in winter - maybe a bit odd for a seven year old reader to enjoy - and I enjoyed it immensely – but for all these things, it's also very beautiful and moving. Jansson was an astonishing writer. Yes, I loved her work! (And still do) But I'd say the book that made a massive impact on me was Alan Garner's 'The Weirdstone of Brisingamen' because it told me, in an odd, numinous way, that I could be a writer, and that I could write in a voice that used my own accent. And of course it was an amazing story full of terror and magic and loss, real and rounded characters, and with incredible strength of writing. And I've read Garner ever since - I was very pleased when 'Boneland' came out a couple of years ago. It was long overdue. There are lots of other books that had an impact on me - a lot of poetry, especially – but I think Garner is an important early one.
Dark Peak: the first in the Elementals science fantasy series. JAKE WALKER learns the hard way what it means to be the companion of an elemental, a guardian of the Earth, billions of years old. All he wants to do is keep his head down and get on with his life, but if he doesn't help soon, the world will be destroyed. Only the elemental can stop it. And only with Jake's reluctant help.
A director's cut scene from Dark Peak: The First Elemental developed into a short story for e-book only release. What happens when an elemental dragon places her trust in the hands of a human companion, a young boy travelling with his scientist parents to a semi-tropical rainforest on an isolated island? On this island is a flower, and in the heart of the flower is a miracle...