Friday, 27 May 2011

Guest Blog Post by Glenn Dakin

In conjunction with the release of the 2nd Candle Man Book The Society of Dread, Glenn Dakin has kindly written about his writing life for us! Here's a sneak into his world....

My Writing Life by Glenn Dakin

As in all great mystery stories there is one room in my house I never go in. It is feared and shunned - a room I only enter to pull an old book off a shelf then depart, like a man afraid.

That is the Work Room, a place perfectly set up for sitting, staring at a computer and focusing on the task ahead. That room is not for me.

The kitchen is my favourite haunt – a big friendly space at the back of the house. I can hear the birdsong there or watch one of the five or six mysterious cats that haunt our garden slip in and out on their secret errands.

Writing seems like a fun, original idea when sitting in the kitchen, it is a pleasant choice – not really ‘work’ at all.

Here I tap away on my laptop. Before we had wifi, the great advantage of the kitchen was I couldn’t go online here, so I’d actually get some writing done. Now the wifi is everywhere, and the kitchen is more a state of mind.

In order to write I need to sit in a kind of rockpool of my imagination and lose myself. Radio news is my enemy, unexpected visitors a dread. Even friends and family who propose ‘dropping by for lunch’ are faced with an angry monster who seeks not human company until he’s written something he thinks is good.

I never use wordcount as a yardstick of how much I’ve achieved. You can write thousands of words but if they aren’t the right ones then you have done nothing. I need to zero in on what I really want to say. Better one paragraph that’s good to five pages of uninspired slog.

Of course, the kitchen doesn’t always work - sometimes I sit on the blue sofa in the living room, by the space where my son plays. In house terms, this feels a bit like going to the beach to write (something I used to do in my younger days, drifting about the Greek Islands. Sigh. Once I was sitting under a tree, by a golden beach on Naxos, drawing a comic into a lined notebook. ‘What do you do for a living?’ someone asked me. ‘This,’ I replied).

Anyway, if the blue sofa doesn’t work I cycle out (I live in Cambridge) to one of my favourite cafes and write there.

I don’t go for popular cafes, but offbeat, downbeat ones that have a gentle trickle of intelligent life running through them. CB1 on Mill Road is a favourite, but keep it to yourself. Going to the cafe is a great way to change mood, sit up straight, write hard and pretend you are in class.

Then there’s the train. Two to three days a week I develop magazines for a company in London. Much of Candle Man was written on a laptop, on a train speeding between London and Cambridge, while the winter rain streaked the window, and neighbouring passengers felt the pain of my elbows.

To keep my mind alert, and my options open, I write a wide variety of things. In the last year I’ve written: Some of Candle Man 2 and half of Candle Man 3, a Batman comic, a guide to Pirates of the Caribbean 4, a book about Toy Story 3 and thirty comic strips about the Gogos (Crazy Bones).

I also write a blog ( and today I’ve been talking to actor Christian Rodska about his reading of Candle Man for its release by AudioGo, the BBC audio wing. It was great to hear him do the voices of some of my characters, a smoky smoglodyte and an obsequious Mr Nicely!

Later I’ll have to transcribe the darn thing…

Back to work now, in my kitchen, listening to the wind howl, the finches chatter and the fridge moan in the language that only fridges truly understand. Candle Man three awaits and Theo is being pursued by the Dodo into a storm drain…

Thank you Glenn for letting us learn a bit about your writing schedule. Storm drains sound very interesting! 

I'd like to remind readers that the lovely people at Egmont have offered 5 sets of both Candle Man books up for grabs - competition details are here

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