Hello hello! Given that I’m elbows-deep in working on the last book of the Wonderland Cycle, a task which is proving extremely time-consuming (it’s going to be a huge book, and there’s a lot of work ahead of me yet,) I thought I’d like to spend off time not talking about my own books, but introducing you all to new authors who you may like. Today I’d like to introduce you to sci-fi author David Hulegaard, creator of the Noble trilogy. David interviewed me a few weeks ago on his podcast, which I was horrible and forgot to post about here, as we are both contributors to the Edge of Oblivion charity anthology benefiting sufferers of Cystic Fibrosis in the United Kingdom. Since then I’ve gotten acquainted with his work, and I think that you may like it. His upcoming book, Noble: New World Order will be out soon, so I thought it was high time that I got him to write a little something about himself and about his process.
Without further ado, here’s David on his Noble trilogy:
March of 2010 was a difficult time. The COO of my then-employer corralled all of us into a tiny conference room and delivered the news: the company had filed for chapter seven bankruptcy—no more lifelines. After fourteen years of service, the time had come to begin a new chapter in my life, only I had no idea what to do next.
With time on my hands, rather than wallow in uncertainty—well, rather than just wallow in uncertainty—I decided to do something I had always wanted to do: write a book. I had an idea for a novel fresh in my mind, and I churned out a first draft within about three months. Like most first works, it needed a lot of TLC, but I’d proven to myself I could do it. From there, an addiction was born.
On October 16th, 2010, Noble was released into the world. When I completed the book, I thought of it as a stand-alone novel. I had no intention of writing a sequel, and yet here I find myself in 2014 about to release the final book in a trilogy. Crazy!
Some have described the Noble trilogy as “sci-fi noir;” a mish-mash of genres. The series started in the 1940s with a small town private detective investigating the disappearance of a teenage girl. In the upcoming finale, New World Order, the story concludes in modern day with an epic showdown seven decades in the making.
Along the way, the plot introduces corrupt law enforcement, rogue FBI agents, government cover-ups, ancient civilizations, a serial killing cult devoted to honoring Jack the Ripper, and a plot to manually induce the Armageddon. Sci-fi noir? Just another day at the office with my twisted imagination.
As the Noble trilogy nears its end, what I hope people will take away from the experience is that I did my damnedest to entertain them. The path through the series is often dark and gritty, with moments of levity to round out the journey.
Whether my books make you laugh, cry, tense up or become angry, the greatest compliment in the world to a writer is that you felt something. That is my goal with every story I tell, and I hope that the Noble trilogy offers that to anyone that reads it.
Fantastic stuff. But what about this process?
Like most writers, I am the proud owner of an invisible box that safe guards all the idea fragments that spring up in my head. Inspiration can strike at any time from any number of sources, and as such, my “idea box” is never empty. Although it’s beneficial to possess a well that never runs dry, it bums me out to know there will be stories I won’t get to tell during my lifetime.
With an overflowing box of ideas, it can be difficult to decide which one to pick as the next project. In my experience, there’s usually one or two fighting to get out, which narrows down my options. As an example, while completing my upcoming book Noble: New World Order, I already had my sights set on a particular next project. When I sat down to begin the initial outline, another idea from the box wrestled its way forward and demanded out first. Who am I to argue? J
Ask ten writers to describe their process and you’ll get ten different answers. While there is no single “correct” way to approach writing, I’ll talk about what works best for me:
- Selection – Which idea is ready to become a story right now? Which one fills me with the most excitement to create?
- Clustering – Once I’ve identified the story I want to work on, I break out my initial ideas into oval hubs on a piece of paper (or in most cases, several) and build off of them. Let’s say cluster one is about an evil king that lives in a castle, and cluster two is about a hero attempting to overthrow him. From those clusters, I draw lines that connect those ideas with new ones. An evil king is pretty boring by itself, so I need more. Was he always evil? If not, what led him down that path? Does he have family? What’s his connection to the hero trying to stop him? Is that hero male or female? This phase goes on and on until I have answered all of the questions that a reader might ask as well.
- Outlining – The first draft of my outline is very high-level. I put all of the key ingredients in order, but leave room to expand the story between them as I go. In essence, my first outline is the critical path, and I develop “side quests” to round out the story. Sometimes the best ideas come to me while the book is already in progress.
- Chapter Summaries – Using my outline, I compose another high-level overview of the story, only this time broken out by chapter and with a bit more detail. Again, I still leave myself room to improvise, but this part ensures that I stay on track. It basically tells me, “These are the points you have to address in this chapter to stay on target.”
- Character Summaries – Some writers like to do this part earlier, but for me, I wait to lock down character personalities until I have the story fleshed out. I usually have a basic archetype picked out for them, but it isn’t until this phase that I start the deep dive into their psyche.
- Chapter One – Now it’s time to begin writing the book! It’s good to give yourself writing goals. It keeps you motivated. However, I’m not a big fan of word count goals. I find that if I focus too much on word count, I start panicking and stretch things out to hit my goal, which is bad. Instead, I recommend setting your goals with scenes. Write until your scene is finished, and don’t worry about how many words it is. Focus more on the fact that you’re making progress, and that will ensure that you don’t get frustrated or burnt out.
So, there you go: a little peek into how I write books. Thanks for reading, and please feel free to contact me if ever have questions about writing, or just want to talk shop.
Thanks very much, David! I urge you all to give the Noble trilogy a shot – sci-fi noir is of course one of my favorite genres, and David’s books have a lot to offer to the reader. If you’d like to learn more about David, follow him on social media, or pick up his books, you can use the following avenues: