What's your creative kindling?

Ways to kickstart your writing, plus current reads, considerations while writing IP and the most challenging character in The High Republic!

What's your creative kindling?
Image: Getty via Canva Pro

Hello there!


Well, I've finally been caught by one of the many colds that are doing the rounds and feel like death warmed up. But even death warmed up has deadlines to meet, so I've dosed myself up with Lemsip, bought an entire shipment of Fisherman's Friends and dived back into work!

Not that it was easy. Getting yourself geed up to be creative when your head is full of snot is hard! Luckily, I have a few tricks up my sleeve, the first of which is to reach for my creative kindling.

Kindling, for those who don't know, is a small collection of easily combustible twigs or sticks that are used for lighting larger fires. Get that burning and a raging fire will soon follow.

It can work the same way when you're struggling to catch a creative flame. The best way to get the fire burning is to experience something that is already alight.

For me, there are three things I do in these situations:

  1. Read something great, whether that's a novel or comic: something that will inspire you to write something equally as exciting - or, at least try!

    A good audiobook or drama also works, pouring inspiration straight into my ears on a morning walk.
  2. Listen to a killer piece of music, preferably one connected to great drama or something you love. For me, it's 'I am the Doctor', Murray Gold's piledriving theme for the Eleventh Doctor. It never fails to get my blood pumping and my imagination firing, as does Alan Silvestri's main Avengers theme or John Williams' timeless Superman march for that matter.
  1. Watch a making-of documentary or feature. This is the ultimate kindling as far as I'm concerned, especially if the subject is a movie or TV show that I adore. Absorbing the creativity of folk behind the camera never fails to get me going, reminding me that, hey, I want to tell stories like that too! Favourites include the extras on the woefully underrated Crimson Peak, the majority of the Marvel Assembled documentaries on Disney+ or the awesome Light and Magic series about ILM.

What about you? What do you use to kick-start your creativity? Let us know in the comments!


One of the definite highlights of the last week was hanging out with my friend and fellow High Republic author Zoraida Córdova when she visited the West Country. The world was definitely put to rights over a pie and a pint at the Raven in Bath! We even played a game to decide which books we'll respectively write next!

Work from other friends was announced:

Paul Cornell and Rachael Smith have collaborated on a new graphic novel – Who Killed Nessie? – soon to be crowdfunded on Zoop. This monster murder mystery sounds right up my cryptid-alley!*

Click here to sign up for notifications once the campaign launches!

The cover of book three in Stark Holborn's Factus series was also revealed by Titan Books.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: Mandalorian fans will love these books! Ninth Life hits bookstores June 4th! Get your pre-order in!


Racheal Stott's awesome cover and solicit for Star Wars: The High Republic - Saber for Hire #2 has been revealed by Dark Horse.

The Nihil are kidnapping children with Force abilities. Can Ty Yorrick, former jedi turned monster hunter, find them before it’s too late? And what will Ty’s frustrated apprentice do when he discovers that the villainous space pirates are also targeting the son of the Republic Chancellor? Plus: Ty has an encounter that will change her life forever!
New York Times bestselling author Cavan Scott and fan-favorite artist Rachael Stott continue an adventure packed with thrilling lightsaber fights and daring rescues.

Star Wars: The High Republic - Saber for Hire #2 drops 15th May, 2024. Talk to your friendly comic book store to pre-order your copy today!


Before I go sniffling off it's time for more of your answers. Keep 'em coming in!

Over on Instagram, steven_75 asked:

"What are you reading now?"

Well, I've just finished both Boys in the Valley, a horror story about a demonic possession in a remote orphanage and How They Broke Britain, a real-life horror story about what's happened to the UK in the last ten years!

Now they're done, I'm starting Pandora's Box: The Greed, Lust and Lies that Broke Television by Peter Biskind about the revolution we've seen in television over the last decade or so. I've been looking forward to diving into this ever since Clare gave it to me at Christmas!

And yes, I've only just realised that's two books about things being broken!

What about everyone else? What are you reading at the moment? Let me know in the comments.

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boomie_28 asked:

"Do you worry about if something is 'right' for the IP or just focus on writing the best story you can?"

It's a little bit of both, to be honest. First and foremost, the impulse is to tell the best possible story I can, but I also want it to feel like it belongs in whatever universe I'm writing in. That said, I don't think there's anything wrong with challenging the IP by pushing in new directions whenever possible!

However, writing for an IP brings with it certain responsibilities. With Star Wars or Doctor Who for example, you have to be mindful that a large part of the audience are children, meaning you can't be too extreme in content. Even the level of horror we wrote in Project: Twilight wouldn't be appropriate for modern-day Who.

It's a juggling act, knowing how and when to push the format, conventions and even-at-times, established canon! But yes, story and characters always come first!

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reneeofthestars asked:

"In The High Republic, who is the most challenging character for you to write?"

Ooh, good question. I know at the beginning, it was Marchion Ro. I don't mind admitting that I struggled early on in the writing of The Rising Storm to get a handle on Ro. It really came together when (SPOILERS), he saw his father. In fact, the entire scene between Marchion and Asgar really cemented who the Eye of the Storm is for me.

Marchion Ro by Will Sliney

These days, I think it's Lourna Dee. She's a complicated character and I want to get her arc right, making what's happening to her now consistent with what's gone before. As always, it's up to the readers to tell me whether I succeed or not!

Who would have thought that a murderous merc-turned-anarchist-turned... well, whatever she is now... would have become one of my favourite parts of The High Republic!

Want to ask me a question to be answered in a future edition? Then leave it in the comments!


Apologies that this one's a shorter newsletter! Blame this cold! I'm off to curl up under a duvet and watch an episode of The Wire!

As always, if you think someone you know will enjoy these posts please forward this email or share online. Your friend, loved one or even mortal enemy can subscribe here!

Until next time, speak soon and stay safe!

*I now want to write a series of kid's books called Cryptid Alley! Hmm. I wonder if Zoraida will let me overwrite the results of our game?! Zoraaaaaidaaaa!