I don’t write to a plan. I let the story take me where it goes while I enjoy the journey. I know more or less what the final destination is, especially when it comes to novels, but everything else is what my brain churns out while I’m en route. I doubt if I could write to a set plan or template without it being obvious that I was doing so. My fiction really is like a sea voyage in the days of sail: I know where I’m headed, but there’s no way of predicting exactly what’s going to happen during the voyage – hurricanes, doldrums, sea-serpents, sharks, men overboard, pirates, derelicts, castaways, shipwrecks, mermaids, icebergs, Neptune or Davy Jones, all are possible.
When you read one of my stories you’re reading something that’s not very far removed from the first draft — I don’t revise much because that way some of the spontaneity is lost. To this day, though, I don’t know where Captain da Silva came from. For that matter, none of his “Scooby Gang” was deliberately created, either (or, indeed, the fact that he’d end up with a Scooby Gang): they all just popped into my mind and onto the page when their time came.
Did I set out to create a whole world of stories centered round a master mariner of the 1900s, who can see ghosts and talk to the dead? No. Am I happy it happened? Hell yeah.