1. Hello! Thanks for taking part in this interview. Now, tell us a little bit about you and your work!
Hi, I go by the pen name Arlen Ren (but you can call me Ren), and I write varying degrees of fantasy – usually low/urban fantasy, but I have some high fantasy planned! I think my work would be categorised as YA. I’m an artist as well as a writer and I live in England with my family and my dog, Rufus.
2. Before we get into everything else, do you have anything published? If yes, you can add links to your work and your socials in question ten!
Sadly no, not yet :(. This year I’m thinking more seriously about getting my work out into the world, so watch this space.
3. Why did you start writing and how did you start writing?
I’ve always loved reading and started writing at a young age. In my teens this turned more to making comics, but in my early twenties I returned to writing novels with NaNoWriMo.
4. Do you have a specific writing schedule or do you just write at any time?
I used to only be able to write in the evening, and I completed one NaNo by writing every day after work. As my job has become more stressful, I now find it really hard to write after work – my brain is fried! At the start of the first lockdown in the UK, I used the time I would have spent commuting in the morning to write instead, and completed the first draft of my current novel. I now find I write best in the morning, but due to my changing shift patterns, on the mornings I don’t have time to write I try and make myself write after work. I feel stressed if I don’t get any writing done in a day, so I try to make it happen no matter what…not always successfully.
5. What inspires you? Does life itself inspire you? Do ideas just come to you? What about searching online for ideas?
I used to read a lot of comics and manga, so they inspired me a lot. As I’ve moved away from manga, the stories I wanted to tell have evolved – a lot of the stories I’m writing now started out as ideas/concepts I had years ago, and they’ve grown with me to become what they are now. I’m now inspired by tv that I watch, films that I see, particularly Star Trek, not even necessarily by the content but by how their stories are crafted. For settings, I’m inspired by the world around me. I love going for walks and imagining new worlds. Forests in particular are places where I feel at home, and my current novel is set in a very peculiar woodland setting.
6. Has your work every made you laugh? Smile? Cry?
I have a sense of detachment from my work that comes from the fact that I’m dictating what happens. I’m a plotter, so everything I write has been decided in advance, and even with things I come up with on the spot I mull them over before committing to them, so by the time the words end up on the page I’m already very familiar with what’s happening, so I’m one step removed from the emotions. Sometimes I think it would be cool if my work could move me, because as it is I’m not sure if what I write just isn’t moving or if it’s me!
7. Do you have a number one supporter, or even multiple supporters!?
I have a little writing group and they’re very supportive in listening to me whine about how difficult I find editing. My parents also encourage me to write, even though they don’t read my writing (though to be fair to them, I don’t offer it to them to read!)
8. Do you have any advice for someone who may be feeling negatively towards their work? Perhaps they feel it’s not good enough or are struggling to find ideas and motivation. What would you say to them?
We’re all our own worst critics, so I think it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s probably not as bad as we think it is. And even if it is, we can always improve it! Reading, watching TV, movies, listening to music, all of these things can be inspiring and help us work out our ideas. Sometimes, if an idea isn’t working, you just need to sit on it for a while. My current novel started out very different to how it is now, and for the parts that weren’t working, I just kept them in the back of my mind and worked them over until I came up with how to make them better. For motivation – you have these stories inside of you. You owe it to yourself to let them out.
9. Before we wrap up, how about a fun question! Do you enjoy editing!?
Ugh. No! Okay, I’m starting to hate it less. But when I started editing my current novel, I had to revise a LOT of the plot, which was incredibly daunting. Once I figured out how to make myself an editing guide it became a lot easier, because I could keep myself on track and not have to think, what am I doing next? But it just feels so slow compared to drafting. I really can’t wait until I finish editing and can start drafting again.
10. Okay, now for the real stuff, post the links to your work and your socials!
I’m arlenrenwrites on Twitter and Instagram!
Thank you for taking part in this interview!