Q&A With Author Hugh B. Long

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Do you write with a specific word count in mind?

Always, and there are good reasons to do so. Firstly, most genres have an expectation of length. Publishers will often post their target word lengths for various sub-genres. Fantasy is often expected to come in at 130k words; Space Opera, at between 80k and 100k. I also try to write to a target word count per day – for me, 2,500 words is my goal, 6 days a week. Sometimes I pump out more, other days less. If it averages that at the end of the week I feel good.

How do you plan your stories? Do you use story boards?

Oh, do I! I have a Masters degree in Project Management. I am the ultimate plotter. I usually start with a mind-map to brainstorm plot ideas, then I organize those ideas into a framework using a set of common milestones: hook, plot points, pinch points, twists, etc. Once I have that skeleton fleshed out, I try to dig a bit deeper. The main thing for me is to know how the story ends. If you don’t know where you’re going, how can you get there? As I write the story, I allow myself the flexibility to wander as needed, and to adjust the framework.

Do you ever show your writing-in-process to friends and family, or do you prefer to wait until it has been polished and perfected?

I share my writing early, and often! Not as much with family, but more frequently with colleagues who I trust will provide constructive criticism. Family tend to be overly generous in their praise and acceptance of your work. Having good critiquing partners is one of a writer’s most valuable resources. I also have a bevy of loyal beta readers who get early access to my drafts and provide excellent feedback. As an indie author, I have to source all these tools and services, which a traditional publisher would normally do.

Do you write in more than one genre? Which do you find most challenging?

I write under the umbrella genre of speculative fiction, which includes science fiction, fantasy, horror, and similar sub-genres. For me, science fiction, especially where I can world-build, is the easiest to write – I get to make everything up. I also write a historical fantasy series set in the Viking Age, and that is much more difficult to do well. I have to do a lot of research and fact checking to stay consistent with history. I colour outside the lines occasionally, but I try to use history as a framework for my fantasy.

What was your favourite subject in school? Were you always a strong writer?

English of course! The section on Greek Mythology was the most interesting subject I ever studied in school. It may surprise readers to know that I had to take remedial lessons in grammar. Once I had the basics down, I grew to adore language. The power of stories always had great allure to me. We moved all over the country for my father’s job, so books became my friends, my comfort. I initially began writing poetry, but then moved on to technical writing and journalism, and now I write speculative fiction.

Author Bio

Hugh B. Long is an award-winning Canadian journalist and best-selling author. He writes full time, and is passionate about Science Fiction and Fantasy rooted in Norse Mythology. He also writes Norse and Viking themed non-fiction under the pen name Eoghan Odinsson. Graduating from the University of Aberdeen‘s School of Engineering in Scotland with his Masters of Science degree, he subsequently taught for the University, and was a dissertation advisor for graduate students. In addition to his academic background, Hugh also holds a black belt in Shito-Ryu Karate, a brown belt in Budoshin Ju-Jitsu, and was a study group leader in D.C. for the Association of Renaissance Martial Arts.  (Historical European Martial Arts). Hugh has taught Martial Arts in Canada and the USA. Hugh recently returned from a 10 year stretch working in the Washington D.C. area, and is now back in his native Ottawa Valley where he lives with his wife, son, and two dogs.

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