Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 29: Questions 29 & 30

A belated Merry Christmas, to you all, Dear Followers! I hope you’ve had a simply marvellous time eating lots of tasty food, watching tat on the tele and revelling in all the wonderful gifts brought to you by Santa! I for one had a lovely time round my parents’ house with my boyfriend and our dog Lex ♥ Usually my parents go away on holiday so it was lovely to spend time with them; I haven’t spent a Christmas with them in about four, five years!

I’m going to try and post a present haul sometime before the year is out as well, but don’t hold your breath because knowing me I’ll never get round to it and I have a couple of other posts I wish to write as well.

Two questions for the price of one today. I’m starting a new writing quiz in the New Year, crafted by K.F. Goodacre (click here to see all the questions), so wanting to get the tail-end of this challenge out of the way first!

So without further ado, here are my final Writerly Navel-Gazing answers for 2017:

Part of the 30 Week Writing Challenge. Click here to view all questions.

29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something in reality that reminded you of your story/characters?

Thinking about writing

I think about writing all the time. ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously, what on earth fills the mind of a person who does not write? It’s an absolute mystery to me. I’m always plotting away, scheming and dreaming, thinking of new ways to tackle scenes, develop characters and enrich the world they live in. For example, just before I sat down to write this blog post, I was playing Assassin’s Creed Origins (a Christmas present from my boyfriend), which is a video game set in Ancient Egypt. The city of Kintaro in the world of The Mayor is based upon Egypt, so naturally I started thinking about Kintaro, the culture and its people, and how I might go about fleshing it out for a potential story I have planned there (or just to help better inform my understanding of world of the The Mayor).

If I’m not thinking about writing my book then I am at the very least thinking about the act of writing itself. I plan my social life around the times I would like to be able to sit and write, and get irritated stressed out super grumpy when things spring up unexpectedly and stop me from writing.

Today for example, I’ve kept my diary deliberately clear so I’m available to write all day. It will be glorious. I AM HOME TO NO ONE. DO NOT BOTHER ME.

As for things in reality that remind me of my characters… I once went to a Voltaire gig at the Purple Turtle (31st October 2014). Voltaire swaggered on stage, cracked dirty jokes, swore like a sailor, sang about pirates and swigged rum straight from the bottle. All I could think of throughout the whole gig was “It’s John. It’s John. It’s John.” John doesn’t even look anything like Voltaire, but the resemblance in mannerisms and demeanour was strong!

30. Question day! You ask, I’ll answer.

I’m fully expecting the sound of chirping crickets and the sight of rolling tumbleweeds, but I would certainly be interested in answering questions about my writing, my inspirations, my process and my book… Just leave your question below in the comments and I will endeavour to answer!

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed reading my responses to this challenge as much as I enjoyed writing them.

Take care, my lovelies,


S.E. Berrow


8 thoughts on “Writerly Navel-Gazing ~ Week 29: Questions 29 & 30

  1. Why hello there! Thank you so much for your question. The comments section was beginning to gather dust XD


    Jaspher and John were originally conceived as a single character, but I split them into two when I realised I wished for them to occupy different roles within the story. Jaspher is the ‘original’ iteration of this character, and John is his successor… John took the original name of Jonathan Carson though!
    Kale wasn’t originally intended to be a ‘villain’, merely more of an antagonist. But then I started listening to Emilie Autumn and watched NBC’s Hannibal and decided he was a psychopath. The rest, as they say, is history.


    The biggest change has probably been that when I originally conceived the story, it was set in 19th century London and not an 18th century-esque fantasy land. Somewhere along the way, I decided to move said 18th century fantasy land to reside within a much larger map I’d already devised for some of my other stories. You can still see elements of the dirty Victorian slum amidst the colonial port of New Hardway.
    Dontaro was originally part of the Liranian landmass in the West. Now it’s overseas, in the East.


    The original concept had a far greater emphasis on insane asylums, foundling hospitals and medicine, in particular the procedure of lobotomy (I learned from my historical research that this was more commonly performed in the early 20th century anyway). Over time as I became more interested in shipbuilding and piracy, these items began dropping off the radar. Now, only elements of them remain (the character of Miss Lillith for example was raised in a foundling hospital).

    There’s probably loads more that I can’t think of right now, but these I would say are the main things that have drastically changed!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hellooo Sallyella Chan! I have a question!

    Has it been difficult balancing modern personal views and attitudes to sexuality and equal rights with the characters you like? Do you find yourself questioning whether to give your characters views you don’t agree with to fit in with the time it is set? (Particularly main characters and relating to John’s bisexuality which I DID NOT KNOW ABOUT! Squeeeeeee!)

    Much love, Cassie (you have kept me awake at work by catching up with your posts!) xxx


    • Hellooooo, Cassie Darling ♥

      In all honesty no, if what they say/think is entirely in keeping with their characterisation. Writing about sexism I find very easy because I have first-hand experience in it, and although things have undoubtedly improved since the 18th century (women can now vote and own property, for example), there are some things — certain attitudes and assumptions about our capabilities and what is expected of us — that never change.

      Obviously I’m more likely to put something overtly offensive in a ‘dislikable’ character’s mouth for narrative effect (men like Kale, Renwick Jarvis, Jim), but the insidious pervasive kind of sexism can still be found in some of the more ‘likeable’ characters like Craven Winship and Jaspher Carson. Maybe some readers find this frustrating because it stops them wholly loving with a character, but for me as the author it makes sense. Human beings are flawed and often hold questionable views. It makes sense my characters would have these flaws too. Plus, you know… it leaves room for character development!

      On the subject of John’s sexuality (another thing I can write about with some degree of confidence because it’s a trait he and I share), if Jaspher ever found out about his brother, he’d be scandalised, horrified and repulsed… but he wouldn’t shop him in to the authorities. He’d condemn it obviously and try and persuade him to stop, but ultimately he’d want to protect him. At the end of the day, John potentially being put to death for “unnatural” behaviours is just another thing for Jaspher to worry about. He loves and cares for his brother more than he cares about the law. Melora meanwhile actually does find out in the book, so I won’t spoil her reaction for you…

      The one thing I am less confident I can write about effectively is race. Whilst I have not included horrors like the slave trade in ‘The Mayor’, prejudices against the Dontaran and Kintaronese people does exist, and there are a couple of characters who are instantly marked out as being from those nations by their skin colour, regardless of whether or not they were born in Sword. I will be asking for my work to be vetted vigorously by Beta readers for sensitivity.

      I hope this answered your question, I fear I may have gone a little off-track.


  3. Also, did you intentionally name ‘Nell Shoar’ and ‘Liz Moare’ to sound like shore and moor? Because if so, you are vair clever and if not, you are unintentionally clever.

    Nell Shoar (Shore), a strip of land alongside the crashing tide, reflects her flirtation with the wild and affiliation with the sea. A transitional place between land and sea.

    Liz Moare (Moor), A mooring refers to any permanent structure to which a vessel may be secured. In this case a wayward ship. In this case, Jaspher.

    And you say you’re bad at names :p


    • Nell’s surname was indeed a variation on the word ‘shore’, though more because it sounded naval and rhymed with the word ‘whore’ (all shall be made clear as to the significance of this in Book Two!).

      Liz’s surname (actually spelled ‘Moore’) was inspired by Olivia “Liv” Moore from the CW TV show ‘iZombie’.

      So… very much a case of accidental genius here. I’m still rubbish with names!


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