– How did you decide to pursue a writing career?
It’s just always been something that I’ve done for as long as I can remember.
– Was getting published hard?
Being self-published, it wasn’t hard at all: this is both the glory and the horror of the digital revolution.
– Are your characters based on people you know?
They are composites, usually. Indicators of personality traits are of great interest to me: the peculiar and idiosyncratic things. I keep an eye out for these at all times.
– What genre are your books?
My debut novel A Smaller Hell is black comedy/crime, as are the Grey Noise and Goldtooth novelettes. My recently completed novel The Horseman’s Dream is a science fiction thriller for which I am currently seeking agency representation.
– Which of your books is your favourite?
Whichever I’m working on at the time.
– Do you have a specific writing routine?
Mandheling Sumatra in the cafetiere, pine in the fire if it’s Winter, at least 1000 words a day, as one of my literary heroes J.G. Ballard recommends. I can write anywhere if I have a pair of earphones. I have a music playlist for writing that includes a lot of Mozart, Ennio Morricone, Craig Armstrong, Satie, Howard Shore, Vangelis and even some video game soundtrack composers who are just as good as the composers working in film. I got myself a tablet this year, too. Being able to carry around all my notes and ideas without risk of losing them is like some kind of dream for me.
– What are your current projects?
The Horseman’s Dream, as previously mentioned, is the priority. I also have 20k words on a smuggling idea, a dark comedy about a serial killer, a book of poetry, and a survival thriller about civil war in the UK on the back burners at the moment.
– What’s next for you?
I’m learning all the time. Being an independent author, it has taken me a while to learn how to market a book. A Smaller Hell has done alright so far, creating enough demand now for a short run of hardbacks, so maybe that will happen soon. A small theatre company had it shortlisted for a production, but that never transpired. For a while there, it was a real thrill to imagine seeing it brought to life by a dramatic crew, so that’s something I am still hoping will happen one day. I have recently had the privilege of interacting with various artists and authors whom I admire, and taking advice and learning from them, so I’ve put all that into writing The Horseman’s Dream. My goal is really to create the best book I possibly can – the book that I have always dreamed of reading.
We’ve all seen how power corrupts and perverts people since these horror stories have been emerging from Westminster and the closets of various celebrities. I was intrigued by the idea of creating a microcosm of this kind of psychopathic behaviour, and a grandiose department store in a crumbling shipbuilding town seemed like the perfect crucible, especially since I had experience of working in such a place when I came back from America. Dianne Doyle is an amalgamation of the narcissists and other anti-social personalities I have encountered in my life who hide behind a facade of status, money, looks and faux-charity. I met some strange people in the music industry, but retail was almost as bad, which was both funny and tragic to me.
From where do you get your ideas?
I like to explore the things that both hurt me and give me joy, and find out how other people perceive the same things. When you find out what other people think of the things that are a big deal to you, you not only find out more about the subject, but also about the massive spectrum of character that exists in the world. So just talking to people, I suppose. I’ve just come away from a boatyard tonight where I had conversations with a special forces veteran, a retired brain surgeon, a fisherman, a paratrooper and a crematorium manager.
Do you ever experience writer’s block, and how do you overcome it?
I never experience it, because something’s always either making me angry, or making me blissful. There’s always something going on to inspire me … so far.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Study, practice and enjoy other art forms.
If your book was made into a movie, who would play each role?
Lena Headey: Dianne Doyle
Rory McCann: Graziano
Dominique McElligott: Rachel
Martin Freeman: Tony Black
Bill Murray: Mr. Robinson
Rich Ridings: Captain
Peter Mullan, David Lynch, Paul Thomas Anderson, David Cronenberg and Terry Gilliam would just have to fight it out between themselves for the director’s chair.