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It was 2005 and I was bored to tears.

I had finished my degree and I was looking for the next thing to do. Meanwhile, I was working at an office job at the other end of a forty-five minute bus journey. Altogether, that added up to a lot of thinking time. Presented with the mental equivalent of dead air, I did what I always do: I made up stories. One story in particular eventually became my ‘regular’.

Every day I’d get on the bus, put on my headphones, and effectively settle down to work while staring out of a window. I already had a character named Kaire I’d been trying to find a niche for; Athellus came next, then Adree, and the city of Nones gradually grew up around them. Dax, always the outsider, came in last. Eventually there was enough material there, I thought, to build a solid tale.

The trouble was how, and where, to tell it.

Nones was originally conceived as a webcomic, since I’d been reading a lot of them at the time. I liked the format, and it seemed like a fun way to get the story out there quickly. As a result, Nones became a very visual story; the Great Maw, the Librais Tower, and Kaire’s appearance in particular came from random designs and drawings I’d done. (The white blaze in Dax’s hair is actually a result of looking for a way to make him more visually striking. Later it became an important aspect of his character.)

However, I eventually had to be honest with myself. I really don’t have the skills to create and maintain a webcomic. I decided to play to my strengths: I’m a writer, and it made more sense for me personally to make Nones into an episodic story. I did try to illustrate it to begin with, but I was never happy with the results. (I’m still not; I’d go back and take the illustrations out, if that wasn’t breaking the cardinal rule of Not Fiddling With Your Archives).

Eventually I left the office job, did another degree, and ended up writing as a career, which is nice. I’m still writing Nones—sporadically, yes, but when I’m taking a break between projects, or when I feel that itch to write something, anything… the city of Nones, the story and characters, are all still there. It’s a lab for testing new writing techniques; it’s a place where I 'check in' on my prose to see how it’s doing.

And though there’s things I’d go back and change—oh god, the things I would change now, after six more years of experience—it’s still fun to write.

—Jo

 

 

Also-reads:

After I'd been working on Nones for a while I realised just how much the story owes to Diane Duane's Young Wizards series. Then again, considering I started reading these when I was about eight and they had a huge effect on me, I could say that for most of my writing. But to appease my conscience - go and read them, they're excellent. However, Nones is going to evolve in a very different direction.

The other big influence on Nones was C S Lewis' The Magician's Nephew. The ruined city of Charn has always held a special charm for me.

Technical

Nones is written in a program called Scrivener. I've just about stopped using Word altogether except at work. Apart from scripts, Scrivener is home to all my writing and I would never have got my MA novel edited as fast as I did without it. It's perfectly suited to my writing style, and since Nones started getting so long, I shudder to think how I'd manage it in a Word document.

If you're a Mac user and a writer, you owe it to yourself to at least try Scrivener's (free) demo. The full licence is not expensive and is extremely good value for money compared to other word processors. Windows-using writers should check out the Literature and Latte links page. (/shameless plug)

I keep track of Nones' information and characters in VoodooPad, because I love writing wiki articles.