Geoff Nelder has a wife, two grown-up kids, an increasing number of grandkids, and lives in rural England within an easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains. He taught Geography and Information Technology for years until writing took over his life. Geoff is a competition short-fiction judge, and a freelance editor.
Publications include several non-fiction books on climate reflecting his other persona as a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society; over 50 published short stories in various magazines and anthologies; thriller, humour, science fiction, and fantasy novels.
2005: Humorous thriller Escaping Reality. Republished 2013.
2008: Award-winning science fiction mystery with hot-blooded heroine, Exit, Pursued by a Bee.
2010: Another thriller received an Award d’Or from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands. Hot Air. Republished 2012.
2012: ARIA: Left Luggage science fiction apocalypse. It won the P&E Award for Best Science Fiction novel of 2012.
What inspires you to write?
My parents inspired me to read then write stories. Dad illustrated one the UK’s first science fiction magazines and mum joined me to the Children’s Science Fiction Bookclub when I was four! Now my head fills with ideas – some original as in ARIA – then empties on to the page and fills up again on the next bike ride or long hike in the hills. I make up stories for my kids and their kids, and have a Word file a hundred pages big with ideas I’ve yet to start on.
Tell us about your writing process.
Some stories come after an intriguing title comes to mind first. : An Accident Waiting to Happen, or In Absentia about a man who thought he had amnesia but was the imaginary friend of a little girl! Other ideas come by accident. For exampleI accidentally misheard ‘He was a ghost before he died.’
I draft out a few notes and often draw a plot diagram. It looks like a graph with peaks of action and plateaus or low points for consolidation. I create a table in Word to keep track of characters characteristics so that I don’t have continuity errors.
I aim to write 2,500 words a day. I am self-employed and so can choose when I do this – mostly in the evenings. I often print drafts and take them to a cafe in town or in the country to relax while editing.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Not at first. It takes a chapter two for the main characters to become established, then they take on a life of their own. I have to fight them to get them back on course but I don’t always win. For example an American character, Manuel had an important PR job with NASA in ARIA: Left Luggage. He was one of the first to catch an infectious amnesia bug such that he was losing memory at the rate of a year’s worth per week. Destined to forget himself to death in months but he was so affable he talked me into giving him survival strategies to keep him going.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t write completely in isolation unless you are a genius. Join a writers’ group early on to critique your short stories. While there are structure differences between novels and shorts, the latter give you a chance to learn from mistakes with regard to setting, Show, characterization and so on.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Friends in an online writers’ community pointed a small press publisher at me. They published my first book, then other more specialized publishers took on others. For example my first science fiction book – Exit, Pursued by a Bee – was taken by SF and Fantasy publisher, Double Dragon Publishing, while the most recent novel ARIA was taken by LL-Publications for its unique concept my known record on writing.
For new writers, use the Writers’ Year books to browse and select publishers and send them – or literary agents – your writers’ resume, synopsis and query letter. No samples until they ask for them.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future is changing rapidly in publishing. The phenomenal rise in e-books and the internet is leading to the self-publishing side of the industry expanding. It is possible to find a gem in those but sadly many more are not readable. Using an agent and publisher still offers the best route to ensure quality writing. Will everyone be on ebooks with no paper print? I doubt it. By the time the last paper book comes out, ebooks too will seem old-fashioned as stories can be zapped straight into your brain. Watch this space!
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?
Science fiction, fantasy, thriller
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print