Alasdair Shaw grew up in Lancashire. After stints living in Cambridge, North Wales, and the Cotswolds, he has lived in Somerset since 2002 and has been rock climbing, mountaineering, caving, kayaking, and skiing for as long as he can remember. Alasdair studied at the University of Cambridge, leaving in 2000 with an MA in Natural Sciences and an MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. He went on to earn a PGCE, specializing in Science and Physics, from the University of Bangor. A secondary teacher for over fifteen years, he has plenty of experience communicating scientific ideas. His published works include Liberty, The Newcomer (an anthology) and numerous academic papers. You can keep up with him via his mailing list, website, Twitter, and Facebook page.
Q: How do you relax?
A: All sorts of ways. Rock climbing, caving, mountain walking, running, writing, reading, gardening, to name but a few.
Q: Do you edit your own work?
A: My physics books are done by the publishers. Working through all the feedback from proofreaders, professional checkers, and beta readers is laborious, but the process has shown me many things that I can apply to my other writing. I proofread and edit my own science fiction books. Firstly, they are posted on Scribophile for critique. I then do a lot of editing before printing out and doing a full proofread. They are then sent out to beta readers and I work through their responses. I do another printout for a final proofread and submit for publishing. A couple of times a year I put together a scifi anthology. The last one was The Newcomer, which was released at the end of November 2016. The next one, The Officer, is due out in June 2017. As editor, it not only choose which entries to include but also give the authors feedback to improve the pieces.
Q: Where is your favorite place to write?
A: In my garden, or conservatory if it is raining. Having said that, it was quite amazing sitting on the balcony of my hotel room in Greece a couple of years ago writing some of the battle scenes in Liberty. I spent the days sailing, kayaking, snorkelling, and walking, the evenings in tavernas. Siesta was writing time. I do a lot of the planning part of writing when I’m out in the hills. I carry a notebook with me to jot down ideas, and have even written large chunks of chapters waiting on summits for groups I am checkpointing.
Q: What is the hardest thing about writing?
A: The hardest thing about writing is keeping the story on track. Even though I go into a novel with a plan, all sorts of things crop up that take the characters on detours. Of course, that is a large part of the fun too.
Q: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
A: I rarely aim for a set work count. If I hit 1000 in a day I’m impressed with myself. I tend to edit as I go along, so I am not a very fast writer. However, if I didn’t go back and fix things, I wouldn’t be able to get them out of my head and couldn’t be effective anyway.
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