Friday, 20 June 2014

Mr Ripley's Guest Post: Nick Cook - ‏To the Moon and Beyond!

I think I can probably blame growing up during the era of astronauts first landing on the moon, for how I’ve turned out today. I will never ever forget those grainy images of Neil Armstrong as the whole world watching held its breath, and he uttered those immortal words, before taking those first historical steps. And despite what the conspiracy theorists might want you to believe it was all some sort of elaborate hoax (don’t get me started – it wasn’t), we as a species achieved something incredible that day. We'd finally broken free of our cradle of birth, the Earth, to wander the face of our moon. And it was an incredible and inspiring moment to witness.

At the time there was a frenzy of science fiction, from movies to books about space exploration, all mapping out how the moon landings were just the stepping stones towards bigger adventures in space for us. Alas, history had other ideas – although I’m hopeful that in the long run our pioneering nature will get the better of us once more.

It was an intoxicating period to be growing up in, where great sci-fi collided with reality –  a heady mix for a kid back then. I dreamed of space, lapped up every bit of sci-fi I could, and of course like every other child, dreamed of becoming an astronaut one day. This all inspired my own flickering flame of creativity and I took my first fledging steps with writing my first book at the age of 13…from memory I think I got all the way to page 5, before giving up! 

It took many, many years for me to return to writing, the years in-between that included a fine art degree in sculpture – and over 20 years working as a graphic artist and art director in the computer games industry. I co-founded two award winning studios and got my my name in the credits of over 40 published games. I even had international number one best sellers. Call me fickle but that wasn’t enough for me!

The problem was that those early childhood experiences has stuffed my head with dreams. That, and my desire to write had never left me. I have journals, poems, short stories, scattered across those years, that helped to keep my writing passion smouldering. 

And then a moment arrives in your life when you reach a crossroads – and I did. One route would have have taken me forward in the world of computer games. But the other led towards the distant mountains of my imagination – in other words – my writing. You can probably guess which decision I made, and it’s one I’ve never ever regretted. One of my many, many personal mottos, is to not live life like it’s a dress rehearsal, but to do it, and do it now.

But writing, as anyone who does it will tell you, is not for the faint hearted. It’s a twisting path, where you have to face many challenges and overcome them. It has taken me over 7 years to get my first publishing contract. But every step on that long journey had to be taken, was part of my personal journey of discovery, as I proved myself as writer, honed my ability, and most importantly of all, discovered my author’s voice.

With the publication of my first book, Cloud Riders, a long cherished dream has finally come true. Those early sci-fi influences are in there, as are a period I had of flying light aircraft and microlights. As a writer you tap your whole life experience, all that you are, but there is something more than that…you learn to listen to your novel as you write it – something I call book whispering. Why whispering? Because sometimes your book whispers to you, so you better listen carefully what it wants you to do! I love that alchemy of story telling and as you’ll probably tell if you read my work, when I write I’m actually there, experiencing what my characters do. The strong visual style of my writing has a lot to do with the disciplines I learned as an art director.

Now today when I hold Cloud Riders in my hands, I hold the dreams of young lad who dared to believe, and although he didn’t become as astronaut, has gone to places just as incredible in his imagination. And without doubt being a writer is one of the best jobs in this, or any other world.

About the Author: Nick Cook is an author currently lost rambling somewhere along the twisted path of his imagination. Has been known to visit Earth for good company and great coffee.

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