Ted Inver’s had a brilliant start to NiTH, taking out first place a couple of weeks ago with his freshman effort Lemonshade. Hailing from the UK but residing in Iceland, Ted gave us some time and insight into the life of writer living in the home of sweeping sagas and epic poetry.
Hi Ted. Let’s start with your literary influences. Who are they? And what books or stories have had the most effect on you?
I’m a lover of sweeping sagas. Jean M Auel’s masterpiece—Earth’s Children—resonated with me on many levels. Moreover, Auel’s scientifically-hailed research into our Neolithic ancestry added an educative quality to the already-rich narrative. I dig that.
I don’t limit my appreciation of research to the realm of non-fiction, though; I respect the effort put into creating deeply realised worlds and the ‘research’ made into their history and characters. Tolkien and Lucas need not a mention in this regard but James Barclay certainly does. His series about mercenaries named The Raven throws grit in the face of fantasy, just the way I like it.
Still, however, I don’t need a series of novels to get my fix of the epic; Voltaire manages to deliver it in one book alone—Candide—whose philosophical questions have stayed with me for some time. In addition, through Voltaire I found Alexander Pope and his sublime poem—Essay on Man.
As far as short stories go, they are relatively new to me but I must recommend Word-Bound by an indie author named MeiLin Miranda. It left me speechless.
Lastly, it’s Dan Brown I must credit for getting me back into reading. His Da Vinci Code had me unable to leave a page unturned. I’d be very fulfilled, if I could manage to craft a story that entertaining and unputdownable, with, of course, the above-mentioned epicness, philosophy, research and grit.
Do you have any particular (or peculiar) writing habits or rituals when you write?
Apart from constantly eating?
I’d say it’s my rituals before writing that are more notable. Just like those mothers who like to clean the house before they start the tax-returns or those students who like to tidy their rooms before starting their essays, I really have to have my environment distraction-free, comfortable and my slate clear. Call it procrastination, call it what you will but I gots to get it done, otherwise the wordy birdies aren’t coming. Seriously, though, I have an extremely active mind and if I’ve got tasks to complete, people (by far the worst distractions) to attend to or somewhere to be in a few hours, I can’t really indulge in my writing. Indulge being the word of choice because, if said preparations are met, I really will take full pleasure immersing myself into the creative process. This, subsequently gets the best results.
As for the writing process itself, every time I sit down to write I find myself on a journey of discovery—be that related to the theme; the characters, world and history developments; my personal life; the human condition etc.—and this fits nicely with the novelty-seeker in me. So I have a habit of being alone in a room blurting out ‘oo’s and ‘ah’s and struggling not to share what I’ve just ‘found’ with the nearest person.
When it comes to my storytelling, I see it like a game of chess, where any moves I make have massive consequences overall. I’m a ruminator so I’ll put a piece forward and mull over the multiple outcomes or try another only to find myself thinking ‘that’s ridiculous, not even I can believe that’. I take great enjoyment from being in everyone’s shoes, running series of moves from both sides and seeing what it does to the plot. Have you seen Geri’s Game at the end of Toy Story? That’s me. And that whole thing about ‘the muse talking’ or ‘the characters writing themselves’, I get that too. It’s so exciting.
Writing, to me, is a reward for all the hard work I put into making time for writing.
Iceland seems like an interesting place to live. What prompted the move there?
I’m currently in Iceland. I was looking for a less-populated, peaceful place, to connect to nature and continue writing my first novel. Admittedly, before coming here I didn’t know ‘saga’ was the Icelandic word for story nor did I know that Iceland has the most writers, published books and books read, per capita, in the world! It’s not hard to tell why: Icelandic nature is awe-inspiring and the culture is historically and fantastically rich. The synchronicity, therefore, has been pretty staggering; ‘Desire, meet Destiny’. If it all works out, I plan to reside here for a while.
So now tell us a bit more about Ted Inver
Well, I’m a liberal linguaphile, born in the UK but see myself an Earthan. I’ve been travelling the globe the last several years in the name of education, occupation, and hedonistic gratification. Slowing down as I approach 30, I’m proud to say my passion for conservation and writing has now taken full precedence.
I was world building, for a couple of years, for a series of novels before it clicked that writing is what I should be doing full-time! Ever since, I’ve been working towards that goal, consuming every storytelling resource I can get my hands on. I reviewed books too, for a while, to sharpen my editorial eye. Now it’s time to write. My current, biggest WIP is the novel. I aim to have the first manuscript done by the end of the year.
Have you had work published anywhere else?
As it happens, NiTH was the first competition I entered and, as you can imagine, I was over the moon that it won!
It was actually my first attempt at flash fiction too; a few weeks back I realised that flash and short story contests would be an ideal way to hone my storytelling skills, whilst at the same time getting words on the page.
It was a few weeks back where I realised that flash and short story contests would be an ideal way to hone my storytelling skills, whilst at the same time getting words on the page. The changes in scenes, styles, genres and worlds married with the buzz of the challenge have proved a welcome break to the long-haul of a 150k worder.
Since the first win, I entered another six. Plus, there’s seven more deadlines I’m gunning for before the month is out! So nope, no published works elsewhere at the moment, but who knows what next month will bring…
Ted Inver is on Twitter. Connect with him @tedinver