Thursday, March 21, 2013

How Author's Write- Philip Coleman

Today I welcome fellow MuseItUp Author, Philip Coleman to share his writing process and an excerpt from his novel, The Master's Book.

What do you write?
I’ve gravitated towards YA as the genre where I’m most at home. Perhaps it’s because I used to read aloud to my own children right into their teens. I have had a go at YA fantasy and sci-fi but my first published book is a thriller set in contemporary Brussels, where I myself lived for three years.
    Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?This book is the only one where I’ve used first person; the voice of a teenage Irish boy called Sean. It seemed natural to the story and the setting – the mixture of a boy trying to sound self-confident with his man-of-the-world sarcasm, while at the same time being completely unsure of himself when faced with a girl that he can’t stop thinking about.
    How do you get started with a book- is it an idea, a character, vary from story to story?It varies from story to story but character is always key. I like strong female characters and Stephanie, Sean’s female counterpart, is very feisty indeed. Setting and sense of place are also important.
    Do you draft quickly?
    It depends on other commitments. I can do a first draft in about two months if there are no interruptions but it can run to six if work or family issues intervene.
    Do you do research before your first draft, during?
    I might check out some basic facts at the beginning; in the case of the present book, the basic elements of the relationship of Mary of Burgundy to the medieval artist/ illuminator known as the Master of Mary of Burgundy were key. The rest I check out as I go along or when I read back each draft. Not living in Brussels any more I sometimes have to check out Google Maps and Street View, and even make some brief trips back.
    Do you outline? How?
    I always try because I feel I should, so I outline some basic stages in the story. Then, once I get going, the pace of the narrative – and especially key dialogue – tends to render the outline redundant so I’m back making it up as I go along.
    Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
    Occasionally I leave comments but mostly I try to name everything up front. Since I’m a bad outliner, it’s important to keep the flow above all.
    Do you work with CP's(Critique Partners) or Beta's (Beta Readers)? How soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
    If you mean do I work with friends and/ or professional editorial consultants, the answer is yes but I try to get a draft that I’m not embarrassed by before I let anyone else see my work, and I get more easily embarrassed the more experienced I get.
    What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
    Write to be Published” by Nicola Morgan is a great book, well worth it’s low price. 
    “Story”, by Robert McKee is about writing movie scripts but it has good advice for anyone crafting a fictional plot., run by the UK Arts Council, is a good website for getting anonymous feedback from other writers.
    [I have to confess that I haven't heard of these, but they sound, and look, great!]
    What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing.
    Lots of things! Most of all, the fact that there are so many talented authors out there struggling to get that first rung on the ladder so that expectations need to be managed. But also that persistence is very important.
    What do you have out now, or coming out? Any upcoming events? A website we can find you and your books at? An author photo? A booktrailer? Anything else you want to share?

    My book, “The Master’s Book” came out last week. You can buy it at MuseItUp Publishing

    You can check out my Facebook page at:

In 1482 Mary, the last Duchess of Burgundy, lies on her deathbed in a castle in Flanders. She is only 24. In her final moments she makes a wish that, 500 years later, will threaten the lives of a boy and a girl living in Brussels.

The Master’s Book is the story of Sean, an Irish teenager, just arrived in Brussels to a house that is also a crime scene. Together with Stephanie, his classmate, he finds an illuminated manuscript, only for it to be stolen 
almost at once.

Where did this manuscript come from? Who was it originally made for? Is there a connection with the beautiful tomb Sean has seen in Bruges? Above all, why does someone want this book so badly that they are prepared to kill for it?

Part thriller and part paper-chase, this book is aimed at boys and girls of twelve and over.

Here is a little excerpt from my story (there’s a longer one on the purchase web-page):

So tell me more about this murder.”
What am I to say? I’d love to tell her what I found this morning, but can I trust her?
There’s not really much more to tell,” I said. “The house was ransacked, but we don’t know what they were looking for.”
Hmm. So you don’t think there’s still something hidden somewhere in the house?”
She’s near the mark.
No, I’m sure there isn’t,” I said, trying to hide my surprise.
Oh, come on.” She poked my shoulder. “You realise you’ve missed a chance to make up a really good story.”
The laugh I gave mustn’t have been very convincing, maybe because I’d fixed my gaze on the floor. She stared hard at me and suddenly gave me a nudge.
You’re not telling me everything, you sly thing,” she cried. “You did find something. You
were trying to keep it a secret, weren’t you?”


  1. The Master's Book sounds ideal for young and old. More appealing when it's known the author is familiar with his setting. Even from the short excerpt I can tell the pace is good and the children have clearly different personalities.
    Good luck.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Wendy. And I agree. It sounds like a great book!

  2. Ooh, that does sound good. What a great interview!


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