My Superpower is a regular guest column on the Skiffy and Fanty blog where authors and creators tell us about one weird skill, neat trick, highly specialized cybernetic upgrade, or other superpower they have, and how it helped (or hindered!) their creative process as they built their project. Today we welcome Steve McHugh to talk about how the power of Having a Brain That Won’t Shut Up relates to With Silent Screams.
My superpower is a brain that won’t shut up. I don’t mean just one that’s always full of new ideas and stories, but one that just won’t let something go.
Now, as a writer, 9 times out of 10, this is the greatest gift in the world. The ability to keep coming up with fresh ideas and stories is pretty much essential if I want to keep writing new books.
Normally I’ll have an idea, a glimmer of a story or character, and then I’ll spend the next few days thinking on it, mulling it over and allowing it to evolve into whatever it needs to in order to grow. I discard the notions that don’t work, or file them away for use later, and see how far it needs to go before whatever gave me that initial thought becomes something fully formed and much more real.
Having a brain that is constantly working, constantly trying to think of new ideas and create new characters and world to explore, is something that I wouldn’t ever want to be without.
I used to sit in school, when I probably should have been paying attention, and run through ideas in my head. I still do it now, although I try to at least look like I’m paying attention these days.
But all superpowers have their weaknesses; otherwise, they wouldn’t be quite so special.
In my case, that weakness isn’t Kryptonite or the incredibly awful weakness that is wood (good job Green Lantern); it’s that other 1 in 10 time when my brain decides to think of interesting ways to screw with me.
These things occur in 2 very distinct ways:
- Just before I go to sleep, it comes up with an awesome idea that I love. I immediately go to sleep, and by the morning, I’ve forgotten all about it. Now, I’ve managed to combat this by keeping notepads and pens dotted around the house, out of reach of three children for whom the words notepad and pen are less of a stationary item and more of a declaration of challenge.This has resulted in a one particularly memorable night when I woke from a dream and wrote the following thing down. “Fleruble sea pogo sword.” Sword was in capitals. No idea why; clearly my brain had broken.
- This is the fun one. You see, when I start work on a project, I like to focus on that one thing. It makes it easier to get into the story from where I left it and continue without having to do a lot of prep work. My brain takes these moments to inform me of a nice shiny new thing that it’s suddenly discovered and wants me to work on.I usually try to put it aside for a short time, thinking I’ll deal with it when I’m done with my writing. Usually this works, but on occasion, it’s a persistent little bugger and won’t let it go. This usually leads to a few days of my brain constantly thinking about the new idea until I start writing stuff down. It has on occasion been less of a “jot down a few ideas” and more of a “fill an entire notebook right now with everything.” And this has happened with every single book I’ve ever written.
You might think that I’m complaining about my brain. And I’m not. Having an imagination that won’t let me forget things and won’t let me put things aside is great. It’s also incredibly important because, as I have 3 young daughters who take up a lot of time, being able to put down ideas when I can means the difference between remembering and forgetting important information.
I have a book out, With Silent Screams, and in the process of writing that book I came up with stories for 3 others. I love my superpower, and if I’m honest, those few times when it doesn’t let me move on until I’ve worked on something, that’s usually where some of my more interesting ideas have evolved from.
Steve McHugh lives in Southampton on the south coast of England with his wife and three young daughters. When not writing or spending time with his kids, he enjoys watching movies, reading books and comics, and playing video games. Steve’s been writing from an early age, his first completed story was done in an English lesson. Unfortunately, after the teacher read it, he had to have a chat with the head of the year about the violent content and bad language. The follow up ‘One boy and his frog’ was less concerning to his teachers and got him an A. It wasn’t for another decade that he would start work on a full length novel that was publishable, the results of which was the action-packed Urban Fantasy, Crimes Against Magic. Find out more by visiting his website, following hm on Twitter, or checking out his Facebook.