Tell our readers about your new web serial.
It’s part of my wider Tales of Vertigo City project. The first ‘tale’ was simply called The First Tale, and has since been released as an e-book on Smashwords, but the current serial is a “mini-serial”. It’s only five instalments long, and while it fits within the universe of the fictional Vertigo City, which is inspired by Victorian London, it stands alone as a self-contained story. The main character, Selina, is a very minor character in The First Tale, and the events in this serial happen before the events of The First Tale, though they aren’t connected.
How did you first come up with the inspiration for this story?
I was going through my bookshelves trying to find something to read, and I found a couple of books I’d forgotten I had. I couldn’t help wondering what it would be like to find a book you didn’t recognise, and for it to be completely different from what you expected.
Without giving away any spoilers, what can readers expect to see in upcoming episodes?
Selina ends up discovering that books really can take you to amazing places!
Is the story complete, or ongoing?
This serial ends with part 5, so it’s complete in itself, but there will be more stories from Vertigo City.
I’m hoping to keep them as separate as I can, so that someone could just read one without needing to read the others. Having said that, I do want to include references to other tales, just to build up the City for regular readers.
What do you find the most challenging about writing a serial as opposed to other formats?
Self-contained stories are straightforward enough as they tell a complete story, with a beginning, a middle and an end. With a serial, you still have those three elements but the entire process is stretched out for a period of time, and you need to keep a firm control over the story so that it’s not completely impenetrable for new readers, but not so convoluted that existing readers can’t remember what’s happened. You need to keep moving the plot forward with each instalment. The rhythm on a serial is very different from a novel or a short story.
Are you working on other projects that you’d like to tell us about?
I’m currently working on a novel set within Vertigo City, featuring superheroes, and I’m also working on a collection of flash fictions about a pirate and his telepathic parrot. Those stories are more of a series than a serial as they can be read independently from each other.
What inspired you to start writing in general?
I can’t actually remember. I asked my mother when I started writing and as far as she can remember, it’s something I’ve always done. I started out with crayon and paper, and learned to use her typewriter when I was fairly young. I’ve just always wanted to tell stories, and it seemed logical to pursue that as I grew up and started to learn the actual ‘craft’ of writing.
Do you have a favorite piece of fiction that you’ve written so far?
Choosing a favourite is like choosing your favourite among your kids but I’d say I’m probably most proud of Checkmate or The Midas Box, which are short stories I had published online a while ago. They’re both available in my free e-book collection which I released on Halloween. I’m also very proud of The First Tale as it was the first serial I ever wrote, and it got a good reception.
What would you like to see in popular books or movies right now?
I want to know when the horror cycle is going to swing around to mummies. Werewolves and vampires are really overdone and there isn’t much that can be done with zombies any more, so I’d like to see more of the classic monsters getting some screentime.
What do you like to read?
I read anything that catches my interest but I do read an awful lot of history books, especially local history for London, where I live, or the North East of England, where I’m from. Local history provides real rich inspiration for writing, and I think knowing the history of a place adds a real dimension to your experience of that place in everyday life.
Do you prefer to write good guys or bad?
It depends. I suppose most of my characters are ‘good’ but there’s often something flawed about them. Liss, one of the main characters in The First Tale, is quite feisty and often solves problems with her gun. She has problems emotionally connecting to people but she’s strong and she gets the job done, so she’s a lot of fun to write even if she’s winding up the other characters.
Do you like to set a particular mood for writing? Do you work at a particular time of day?
I don’t artificially set the mood – I wait until the mood grabs me. I generally work better towards the beginning of the day as I’m very much a morning person, so I might find myself writing on the way to work, or on my lunch break. I don’t really need a set environment or a set routine – I just need the urge to write.
What three or four elements make a good story, in your opinion?
Good dialogue, strong characters, and an avoidance of cliche or coincedence. I need to be able to read the dialogue and not need the speech tags to know who’s talking. I suppose good dialogue grows out of strong characters – if your characters are so defined that they speak for themselves, then that’s great. If they all sound the same, then I get suspicious.
Is there a type of story (or character) that you’re itching to try, but haven’t gotten around
I’ve often wanted to write a straight science fiction story but an idea for one has yet to present itself to me. I guess I don’t read that much science fiction anyway, but life on other planets and fancy technology seems like it could be fun to write.
Did anyone give you a piece of writing advice that you have found to be true?
A long time ago, another writer told me to stop saying “Character X had been….” or “Character Y was…” and to find a verb that did the job. So “X was walking” becomes “X walked”. It’s amazing how much stronger and tighter the prose becomes when you really stop to think of a better way to say things.
©2010 Lori Titus
Check out Icy Sedgwick’s Tales From Vertigo City here: http://vertigo-city.blogspot.com/