Steven Goodwin

Steven Goodwin

Who are you, and what did you write?

I am Steven Goodwin, known as the Marquis de Geek, and I'm a software engineer by trade. However, I have far too many other interests and so consider myself a general-purpose computer geek. My latest book is called 20 GOTO 10 and is a book about retro computers and how they're connected through numbers. Each section links to others through these numbers, like a 'Choose your own adventure' book.

What hardware and software do you write with?

As a technical person, my main software is either Sublime, or VS Code, depending on which machine I'm sat in front of at the time. Since these are text editors, rather than word processors, I use a system called Markdown for indicating what text is to be underlined, or italicized, or labeled as headings. Consequently, the whole text looks like a computer program, complete with a monospace font, so I never get distracted by trying to make it look nice.

The book is split into about 200 distinct sections, with the text for each in its own file, so I generally work on one section at a time. (But the individual files mean that jumping to other sections is really quick.) I also have a second file that indicates how that section links to the others. When I'm ready to send a version of the whole book to the publishers I run a small program (which I wrote myself) which combines the sections into the correct order, and converts the markdown text into something non-programmers prefer to read!

In terms of hardware, my day job involves Linux, Mac, and Windows machines so I'll write with whatever is handy at the time. However, they're all connected to my private source control system so I can exchange the text for each section between computers. This also provides an automatic off-site backup, and a way of reviewing what I wrote the day, week, or month before.

When and where do you write?

The spare room at home is called my "studio." It's where I work and write. I need (and enjoy) the solitude where I can create without the feeling of being watched or judged by others. If I have ideas when away from the studio, then I carry pen and paper at all times to jot things down. (The time to unlock a phone, find an app, and type something is just too unwieldy!) On rare occasions I conjure up an entire block of text, I'll either memorize it or dictate it into my phone.

Then 'when' of writing is usually weekday evenings, and parts of weekends, to fit around my normal work.

What's your dream writing setup?

I don't have a dream writing setup, as my needs are fairly minimal so what I have now is perfectly suited to me. The plainness of a text editor means I don't suffer decision paralysis. Storing my work in source control means I have access to it everywhere. Working only from home means I have access to my books, and the Internet. The only improvements would be a bigger home, to fit more books!