– 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, you know? I keep a very keen eye out for these at all times.
– What genre are your books?
My debut novel A Smaller Hell is a neo-noir dark comedy, 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. 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 well so far, but I would still like to see it do more. I think that there is 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 am planning to put all that into practise when 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. Dianne Doyle is the personification of many cruelties I’ve felt, both big and small, and she became my guide through the world of the psychopath.
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 brain surgeon, a fisherman, a paratrooper and a crematorium manager. No shortage of ideas knocking about there.
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. I don’t want to sound cocky, because I know some very talented and clever writers who suffer with it, but there’s always something going on to inspire me … so far.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Be ruthless in editing and show, don’t tell.
If your book was made into a movie, who would play each role?
Is this every author’s favourite question? I’ll bet it is. I think that Lena Headey would make a wonderful Dianne Doyle, Rory McCann or Mickey Rourke as Graziano, Dominique McElligott as Rachel and Martin Freeman as Tony Black. Pierce Brosnan or Bill Murray for Mr. Robinson. As for the captain, ideally it would have been Olly Reed, but my friend Rich Ridings would be just as good. Peter Mullan, Martin McDonagh, John Michael McDonagh, Wes Anderson, David Cronenberg, David Lynch and Terry Gilliam would just have to fight it out between themselves for the director’s chair.