Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Questions with Novelist & Screenwriter Andrew John Rainnie (@andrewrainnie)

This Author Spotlight

Andrew John Rainnie

Novelist, Screenwriter, and Author of

My Right Leg Is Tastier
Than My Left

Andrew John Rainnie is a Scottish novelist, screenwriter and journalist.

He has an MA in English Literature and Film & TV Studies, and a Postgraduate degree in Screenwriting.

He currently lives in Glasgow, working as a freelance script developer and copywriter, and has recently started his own film and multimedia production company, Rain Fire Films.

When not indulging his addiction for video games, he can be found taking photos for his website Discover Glasgow, a guide to Scotland's biggest city for locals and tourists alike.

1.How did you get into writing and why do you write?

I’ve been writing since I was old enough to hold a pencil. It wasn’t so much the writing as the storytelling that appealed to me. I’ve always been heavily influenced by films and television, but I found that the best way I can craft a story is through my writing, which is why I studied screenwriting.

However, there is an appeal to writing a book in that it is your voice, whole and complete, whereas films and television shows are a large collaborative effort, despite what auteur theory says.

2.What do you like best (or least) about writing?

Finding the time. I’ve been an insomniac since I was a teenager, and my mind is always active in the twilight hours, which is when I usually sit and just hammer away at the keyboard or scribble words down on paper. But I have an imagination that refuses to turn off, so I’ll constantly be thinking of the story during the day, the cogs working in the background, finding stronger bonds between characters or better scenarios to fit the theme of the story I wish to tell. But time always seems to escape me. Although I read a quote recently that made me laugh. “Time is an illusion. Only clocks are real.”

3.What is your writing process? IE do you outline? Do you stick to a daily word or page count, write 7 days a week, etc?

It largely depends what format I am writing, or even by project. For filmmaking I write a two-page synopsis, and then expand it to 10-12 pages before writing the first draft. But then halfway through writing an idea may crop up that throws a spanner into the works, but I think it is best to grasp those creative sparks and run with them rather than stick with the rigid structure. Trying to do both is the key. Likewise for books, I started a fantasy trilogy, “The Spirits of Vengeance,” and realized I would have to plot the three parts. As I was writing the first book, the structure of the next two books was constantly being revised as the series evolved.

For “My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left” there was no structure, it was a blog I kept while travelling around the world. When I came to collect it in one volume, I did try and put a bit of structure to it. In fact I found that on some subconscious level I already had, many of the people I met and themes I explored ran like a thread through the book. I think it was the scriptwriter in me ingrained in my thoughts.

4.Who are some other writers you read and admire, regardless of whether they are commercially “successful?”

Terry Pratchett is one of my main inspirations for writing. He seems to manage his wry sense of humour effortlessly. I really enjoyed Marcus Zusak’s novels, and I’m looking forward to seeing “The Book Thief” adapted into a film. Jonathan Lethem is one of my favourite modern writers. A friend of mine got me hooked by giving me “As She Climbed Across The Table,” as a gift. I remember naively trying to get a job adapting the script for DreamWorks. I ended up adapting a short story by Lethem, “The Collector,” and directing the short film.

I also admire Joss Whedon as a screenwriter who often manages to elicit the humour in even the most serious situations, but brings a sense of poignancy to his pieces. I think it’s a great thing that he now gets recognized as a great director too, but I think that is an extension of his writing, and his overall voice. The same is true with Quentin Tarantino; his scripts are his outright, and his dialogue is so cutting. Many screenwriters are hard to judge because a great screenplay can make a terrible film, and a lot of films these days are rewritten several times, and it often seems like “too many cooks.” There hasn’t been a truly great film where there was six screenwriters!

I think a lot of writing has lost the suspense it once had, especially in television. I remember the likes of J.J. Abrams’ “Alias” often ended with a cliffhanger, but you don’t really get that now, except in comics. Jonathan Hickman and Brian Michael Bendis are very good at bringing those “WTF?” moments to the last page of a comic.

5.Should the question mark in the above question be inside or outside the quotes?


6.What’s your stance on the Oxford Comma?

I write for an American gaming website,, and my editors are always busting my chops for forgetting the elusive Oxford comma. It doesn’t come natural to me. I guess I don’t think it is necessary to have punctuation there.

7.What is your book “My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left” about and how did it come to fruition?

There is a story behind the story. Essentially I was a Scottish guy who had been living in London for five years, working as a media analyst and freelancing as a script developer. When the current Conservative-Liberal Democrats coalition government came into power, the first thing they did was disband the UK Film Council, which meant I lost some of my freelance work. I had also just turned 29, and finished making a short film, “The Collector,” based on a short story by Jonathan Lethem. My creativity was fried and the mood in Great Britain was miserable, largely thanks to the bankers getting bailouts while the rest of us went poor. I’ve always wanted to travel the world, being an Indiana Jones fan, and all the things in my life just made me want to escape into the wild. So I did. I took a year off and just went travelling. I remember a few months in staying at the Indy Guesthouse in Busan, South Korea. The owner, Indy, has a large Raiders of the Lost Ark poster with his face photoshopped over Harrison Ford’s. When I saw that I knew I had made the right decision.

8.What’s your current writing project?

I have just finished a feature film script, “The Unseen,” for a director I know in London, so I’m waiting on his notes before I redraft that. I’m also rewriting the first book in my “Spirits of Vengeance” trilogy, “The Stone of Spirits.” I’m hoping to find a publisher for that soon, or self-publish again.

I am also putting together three short film scripts to be filmed by myself back-to-back, entitled “The Illuminant Midnight Project.” Each film deals with the themes of life and death in their own way, and I’m hoping to launch a Kickstarter campaign for that later this year.

9.What book(s) are you currently reading?

“Shantaram” by Gregory David Roberts. I picked it up when I was travelling but never found the time to read it.

10.Who or what inspires your writing?

Everything. I read a lot, watch ridiculous amounts of films and television. I spend afternoons people watching, just picking out traits, flaws, characteristics. I digest a lot of information, from photographs online to tales people have told me. Music inspires me a lot; my early stories and films were often named after the songs that had conjured them into my brain. I’ve been slowly piecing together a post-modern novella that is a book about where we get our inspiration. I have a file that I add snippets of inspiration to. When it has enough weight I’m going to chip away at the raw information and carve a story out of it, but that is years away.

Finally, is there anything you’d care to add? Please also include where people can read your published stories, buy your book, etc.

“My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left” is available from Amazon US and Amazon UK, Apple iTunes, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, Sony eBookstore and Smashwords.

I have just started my own film company, Rain Fire Films, through which I’m hoping to make more short films and music videos. 

Thanks, Andrew. Great interview. I greatly enjoyed As She Crawled Across the Table. Highly recommended.

Be sure to check out Andrew's Rain Fire Films, follow him on Twitter, and grab a copy of his book!

“My Right Leg Is Tastier Than My Left” is available from Amazon US and Amazon UKApple iTunesGoogle PlayBarnes & NobleSony eBookstore and Smashwords.

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