I have had the amazing opportunity of conversing with David over the last couple months. Having the chance to interview David for my first Q&A was a incredible experience. Thank you David, for your time, for your encouragement, and kind words.
Would you like to tell my readers a little about your self, something we can’t find on Wikipedia?
DJR: Sure. I’m half Norwegian and proud of it. Mum was from a remote town in the Arctic Circle and I have a wild passion for vast landscapes and down to earth people. I started writing at the age of 19, the same month the Berlin wall came down. I actually sold my business (a small sales-orientated company) and gave up a good job at the time, to focus on being creative. It was a great period of life for me. Absolute freedom to do what I wanted. I loved it. Even when the money ran out and I was living on next to nothing – the craft kept me alive. Gave me purpose. Not sure if that makes sense or sounds a bit mad, but there you go. I knew two respected writers at the time. One was Daniel Easterman (Denis MacEoin) who I lived near to – and the other was Brian Lumley, who I encountered through working with his son, Richard. Both authors gave me the same sage advice: your first novel MS is destined to end up on the shelf of a cupboard, wrapped in a plastic bag. Back then I was horrified. This was my work they were talking about. My pride and joy. They were also right. The first novel is the training ground.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer, and how did you come to that realization?
DJR: November 1989. 19 years old. But I really got into writing – or rather dreaming up story ideas – when I was around 9 or 10. I had a teacher who used to spend the end of every afternoon reading to us from a novel. Typically sci-fiction fantasy (1970s) or adventure thrillers. I loved it. A lot of the other kids fidgeted, restless and bored, but those words took my imagination into new worlds. Age 11 I got into role-playing games, Dungeons & Dragons, and then 1985 I found Call of Cthulhu (based on the cosmic horror of H.P.Lovecraft). Running role-playing sessions I had to learn pre-written stories and then guide players through them; this gave me an insight into structure, and then later, I began modifying them or writing my own. With role-playing you have direct access to an audience (the players) where you get to gauge the immediate reaction to the story you’ve created – and insights into how other minds work through the plot and the clues. Come 1989, I had a head full of ideas and a rather foolishly romantic idea about what “being a writer” would be like.
All writers are readers, what are some of your favorite books and authors?
DJR: Not all writers. I read very little. I just don’t have time. And when I do get a book in my bag it normally takes me about 3 months to get through it. My limited reading list includes – with favourite novels in brackets: George Orwell (1984), Philip K Dick (Man in a High Castle), Aldous Huxley (Brave New World), Stephen King (The Stand), H.P.Lovecraft (Colour from Out of Space) , Brian Lumley (Necroscope series), James Herbert (The Fog), Jim Dodge (Stone Junction), James Ellroy (American Tabloid), Iain M Banks (Excession), William Gibson (Virtual Light), Robert Ludlum (Bourne Identity).
How do you feel about the Kindle and similar devices? How do you think it affects writers?
DJR: Kindle is excellent. For me, nothing beats the feel, smell and memory association that comes with flicking through a physical book, but as a writer, being able to sell directly to market through the electronic medium is a massive plus. How will if affect writers. At some point in the not-too-distant future, I suspect writers will have to do more than just write the book; they’ll have to consider all the “bonus material” and “special features” and “interactive gimmicks” that will lure new readers to their work. A shame really.
What do you think about self publishing, and the quality of work in self publishing?
DJR: Self-publishing is very much a two-edged sword. On the one hand there is the glorious freedom, as a writer, to get your product direct to market. You control your destiny. You make an excellent return on the retail price. On the same hand, but with less positive spin, you have to really work hard to market your work, to even get noticed – so much so that I often say that writing the novel is the easy part. Selling the things is tough. On the other hand – it can be hard for readers to find quality work amongst the ever growing deluge of content flooding onto the market; not all of it very good. In a way, it’s just a magnified version of what’s been happening in mainstream publishing for years. This is where I think the Internet will win again. There’s a ton of folks out there who are passionate readers and excellent at expressing their opinions about what they’ve read. Through social networks and blogging, I think these folks will ultimately percolate up through the literary food chain to become referral hubs. More and more, publishers and the print-on-demand self-published authors, will rely on getting the attention of these folks, either through quality content or leverage, to bring products to the attention of the swelling audiences who follow what they say.
What advice could you give to a writer just starting out?
DJR: Make sure you’ve got a plastic bag and a nice dark cupboard somewhere for your first MS. Advice. Take your ego out of the equation. Find people you trust to provide an honest opinion and show your work to them. At the end of the day you’re creating a product. You’re expecting somebody to pay money for it – and you want them to enjoy it. If there’s something wrong with what you’ve created – then you need to know – and fast – so you can fix it. So when you’re first starting out, take the blows, roll with the punches – but, more importantly – know when to ignore what somebody is telling you. Find the centre of what you are about. Find the soul of your work and let it evolve. Finally, if you’re going to give up a career to write a book (I’ve done that three times now) – I would say it is insanely worth the experience, but make sure you’ve got plenty of savings to fall back on. Prospective new employers are rarely impressed that you “took time out to write”. They usually think you’re a hippy or something.
Out of all your works what is your favorite, and what is it about?
DJR: Unfair question. I love all of them. Each one is unique and different – although they share the same universe. I’d say, take a look at what’s currently available and make your own decision.
Find David’s Works At: