David’s first book is a dark fantasy called Crow Man. He currently lives in Scotland and works in the medical field.
We discuss his book and some classic literature. David has great thoughts and advice for new writers.
Stephen: Uh, David, thank you for joining me on the podcast today. It’s, uh, good to talk to you.
David: It’s great to talk to you too, Steven. I’m really looking forward to this.
Stephen: So to get started, why don’t you tell us a little bit about who you are, where you’re from, and a little bit about your background.
David: Okay, well, my name’s David, David Dre, and I’m the author of Crow Man, which is a dark fantasy book that’s available on Amazon and all good book outlets, mostly on the internet.
I live in Scotland. I, uh, have written for a long time, and this is my, but this is my first, uh, full-length NIP novel. And. The follow up to it. Crow Tower is due out next year. It’s, uh, in production, so to speak. Um, my background, I’ve, um, worked in a huge variety of jobs. I’ve worked as a ditch digger. I’ve worked.
As, uh, I’ve worked in a, uh, candy factory. I, I’ve worked as a scaffolder, I’ve, but I’ve also been to college. I’ve got degrees and, uh, but not a degree in writing. I
Stephen: don’t think, uh, a lot of authors actually have a degree in writing. Uh, uh. But it sounds like you have a lot of experience that you’ve, uh, gone through in life and.
A lot of times, uh, the authors, that’s much more important to them. I,
David: I, I think I’m a good writer. I think if I’d done a degree in writing, I’d be a better writer. But like you say, I might not have so much to write about. Um, , there’s lots of really good, uh, writing about writing and about being a writer, but I don’t know that that’s really.
I want to write, I want to write about things that are important to me and things that I enjoy and things that I would like to read myself. I’m a big reader. I love. Uh,
Stephen: and well, since you brought that up, what, uh, types of books do you read? What are your, some of your favorite author?
David: Okay, that’s a good co question and we might be here a while.
My favorite author probably is Gene Rove. I love everything he’s written and I’ve read everything he’s written, but I love classics as well, especially classic science fiction and those genres that lead into it. I love Jekyll Andy. I love the Moonstone. I love. Have you ever read Confessions of a Justified Sinner?
You should read that. Have you read Alistair Gray, Walter Scott movies? Horror stories. They are so, such great writing, so full of ideas, so fresh, even though they were written hundred or more years ago.
Stephen: I’ll have to add some of those to my list. Uh, I love. The old classic a hundred, 150 years ago. Uh, and, and some of the newer stuff, I have a small collection of science fiction stories from like the forties and fifties.
Cuz I think that’s a great sci-fi era. Oh yeah.
David: Um, we’re never gonna get a better science fiction writer than re Bradbury. Right. Or John. The, the,
Stephen: we have had quite a few good ones. Yes, we have. That’s the problem is. Having this stuff available to you all the time, along with all the new stuff, there’s, it’s overwhelming the amount of things that you should and want to read,
David: but there’s great stuff coming out now too.
Stephen: Yeah. Uh, that, that’s funny you say that. I just saw a list today of Time Life had the hundredth hundred greatest fantasy books that everybody should read. And had you read them? Uh, I I went through it and there was about 50 of them that I’ve read. So a good amount.
David: I would guess mine, I would be the same. And there’s some that are probably on it that I have to be honest. Read one of their works. But you don’t have to read them all. And I’m going to be controversial here and say I’m talking about Lovecraft . I know. Um, some people love him and I know that you have to read them, and I know that it’s important that you read it, but once you’ve read one, that’s enough for from him talking.
He was great when I was a, a, a kid, but I grew. So I’m trying to think who else would be on that list, but there’s, there’s probably ones that, uh Oh, Robert Jordan, hopefully he’s not even on .
Stephen: Yep. Robert Jordan was on the list, but I mean, they even had things like, Alice Wonderland and um, Arabian Knights.
David: Read Arabian Knights. That’s good. Alice Wonderland. Watch the movie.
Stephen: it. It’s basically, that definitely is a weird book.
David: Yeah. I’ve never really got my hair drowned. I lo I love the . It a whirl where you
Stephen: think has happen. A friend and I were talking about those this morning and how just having a generic fantasy list is not necessarily, uh, helpful to a lot of people because there’s so many sub-genres that fantasy falls into and you miss out on a lot of good books and.
A lot of those that are on the list, some people won’t like, because there are other ones they won’t, that they do like. Yeah.
David: I, I, I see what you’re seeing. Uh, Isn’t every book fantasy unless it’s
Stephen: nonfiction? Yes. I’ve had that discussion with people about genre because I’ve written a middle grade book with Wizards and Magic, and then I wrote another book that is kind of a steam punkish alternative history set in Britain.
And I said, they’re both fantasy, and they said, no, those are two completely. Genres. I’m like, no, they’re both fantasy. What was the second?
David: I’ve written a book like that. Second one. What kinda of genre was that? I’d like
Stephen: to know . Yeah, I, it’s actually, I call it a cozy spy thriller. I went off that whole cozy idea because it’s a lighthearted spy thriller.
It’s a like a master. An apprentice, kinda like Star Wars was. It just kinda grew and it’s got some steampunk elements in it. It’s like an alternative British history. Okay, so,
David: so sort of League of Gentlemen kind of thing?
Stephen: A little bit, yeah. It didn’t really start that way. It just kind of grew out that way, so, okay.
David, what got you into writing? Why did you want to write?
David: I, I can’t not, not sure I can answer that. I’ve always written, and I’ve always wanted to write. I, I wrote in school and I wrote after I left school, I, I’ve probably got old school books and daughters that are full of stories that have written when I should have been doing maths and arithmetic.
Uh, I can’t really say that either my teachers or my parents particularly encouraged me. I just decided, well, a friend retired and decided that they were going to take up writing, and I thought, there’s no way I’m waiting until I retire before I get it’s serious about this. So, um, I started off doing micro fiction, 50 words.
Placing it in where I could and moving up onto doing, uh, larger shorts. And then I got into various magazines and websites, and then I, I wrote Chrome and. I’ve written some other stuff that’s kind of bubbling under in the background, but that’s the first book that of that size that I’ve, I’ve had published CRO Tower.
The next one will be out next year, and I’m about, I’m just at the beginning of, of the next. One in the trilogy, but I do have other pieces that, uh, or other projects that are really complete discussions are ongoing , as they always are, . So it, it, it wasn’t really a, a conscious decision. It was just a conscious decision not to quit.
Stephen: I guess, uh, you had, you listed some other things that you had done in life. all. Is writing all you’re doing right now or do you still, uh, work, uh, a different job and this is kind of your second job
David: or your Oh, I, I work, um, I work as a analyst in the health sector, particularly in public health.
So at the moment I’m looking at all sort of, sort of things about Covid 19 and looking at. Um, indicators of, uh, how it’s, uh, being managed or how under control it is and what steps we should be taking or, or not, and covid is disrupt, um, disrupting our, our actual health provision in some ways and, and do a lot about the, the mortality Sta starts.
It’s really fascinating work. I, I kind of would hate to give it up in a way. , but it does take a lot of my time at the moment, and it’s cut into my writing time a lot. But I think, if I’m honest, like every writer, the thing that cuts into my writing time the most is not writing
You know, the, the, I work nine hours, seven, eight hours a day. There’s 24 hours in the day. I, I can’t blame my work for, uh, if I’m, Being productive. I can blame things that are going on in my head, and if I’m not productive on the page, I can still be productive in my imagination, which is an important step.
Before we, we, we can, uh, yes, pro. So if I’m not being productive, I never beat myself up about. Ever. I never beat myself up about anything.
Stephen: I, I think a lot of people get down on themselves when they’re not writing and then that just self perpetuates that they, oh, well I, I was a loser and I didn’t write, so I’m not gonna write today.
And now I feel worse cause I haven’t written for two days and I don’t feel like writing, uh, you just sometimes gotta put your butt in the chair and start
David: typing. That’s right. And I, I think, uh, we we’re gonna talk about that in the second part, but fear is a, Enemy of the writer. And, and when we say write, you don’t have to write well, you get to revise it, right?
Get to edit it. Uh, but also don’t, don’t be too so negative sometimes I, I feel that everything I write, I’ve almost got to dream it. So to come to me in a dream. If I’ve not had the dream, then I can’t write it. That sounds weird, doesn’t it? , let me, lemme slightly less weird. I, I, on the, on the face of it, I’m a panther, but really I’m a planner and the planner all goes on in planning, all goes on in my head.
And once that planning’s done, I can write, but if it’s not done, I can’t write quite so.
Stephen: And I, I, I kind of agree with you there. I’ve told people that I don’t really feel like I’m making up a story so much as I’m. Appearing through a split in reality, and I’m looking into another universe and all I’m doing is reporting what’s happening over there.
then I, I’m not, it, it’s like flowing into me. I’m not really making it up. It’s hard to understand unless you’ve actually experienced,
David: maybe we’re, we’re, we’re all tuned into some great hive mind that’s trying to tell us all something maybe writers really are. Yeah. The, the, the, um, the true. We wouldn’t be astronauts, what would it be?
Universal notes or, I dunno, dimensional notes. They must, let’s make up a word for that. I’ll think about it and see if we You do too. See if we can come up with a word for it. Psychos. I
Stephen: like Yeah, it, it, well, psycho Knot was actually a video game, um, and it had to do with mind things, so, uh, we’d probably get in trouble with that one.
David: Yeah. I don’t see how you can, I don’t see how you can trade. Trademark Psycho. Not We can move to China. .
Stephen: Yeah. Well then it doesn’t matter, right? Trademark. Right? If you come up with something really good, I’ll, I’m fully supporting it. I’ll, I’ll, uh, champion it for you. But you’re not into psycho, not . So I, I, for me, I associate that too much with the video game cuz it’s a really good video game.
So, , so David, uh, you mentioned your book a couple times. What it’s about, a little bit maybe of where you got the idea from.
David: It’s a dark fantasy and it’s about a world where the sun is kept in a box. It’s about how, what that world is like and how uh, certain people manage to get the B Sun out of the box and it’s.
Started in some ways inspired by North American, uh, Western Pacific myths about that very, that very world where the sun is kept in a box and, uh, the trickster, either the coyote or the the raven, or in this case the crow gets the sun out of the box. The kind of imagined characters that would be doing that, how they would get it.
What they would do, what the world would be like. Um, some of the stories inspired by, uh, Japanese manga as well, and a lot of it really talks about my own investigation of darkness. So for example, Uh, it is starting as a bad thing. We always think of it as as bad, but maybe it’s not. And we always think of light as being good and maybe it’s not.
And uh, so there’s a lot of questions like that going through my, the writing. But there’s also this idea that somebody having everything, the entire sun creates a. Horrible world. And maybe, maybe that the idea for that is based on all this sort of reaganomics and trickle down economics about how, uh, we’ve created this horrible world , where prosperity is focused on a very small group, not just to one person, but, uh, it, it talks about that and, uh, It talks about how if we want to be moral and good people, then we have to be moral and good people regardless of what happens to us and not just expect the world to be all sunshine and lollipops when it’s not, and stick to what we believe is, is the right way to behave in the right things to do.
I’m not giving too much of the plot away there. Am I ?
Stephen: And, and did you say that this is going to be a, uh, trilogy?
David: I, yes, it is. So the, the, the first book really deals with, uh, it stands on its own. It, it goes from the introduction of, of these characters to the release of the sun into the world that it leave left.
So many questions in my. Um, the second book is actually more of a prequel, so it, it talks about how you got to that stage. And then the third book is a prequel of, has ended up being a prequel of the prequel. What, what’s motivating the second and third books is really, um, , the questions and challenges that that arise from the the first and second books,
Stephen: but they’re prequels to each other.
That’s interesting. Yeah. Yep. When you first started the first book, did you plan on it being a trilogy or was it just you were writing a book?
David: In the back of every Fantasy Writer’s Mind, when you write the book is the word trilogy. You can’t get away from it, and probably in the back of every writer’s mind in the, is the word trinity.
And, and this, the other word that’s in the back of your mind is, is of course, book deal, . Now this isn’t motivated by a book deal cuz I, I, I don’t have a book deal for the, the third one, only for the, the second one so far. But I’m confident that if I do a good job and the my publisher will, will take it up.
So it wasn’t so much a, a conscious decision. It was after I’d written the first one. I knew that that was kind of expected to me to write a second one. So I’ve written the second one and I’ve written a third one. But at the same time, as I said, I, I, I wrote that, that I wrote Cro Man, and I’ve, I’ve gone off and I’ve, I’ve done other projects and they’re now.
Uh, nearing completion where, you know, I’m, I’m looking to make book deals with them. So, and, and they’re quite different to Cro man. Very different. Um, one of them is, uh, well one of them is a children’s book for a star, and one of them is, uh, one of them is a sort of gothic detective story. And then the other one is, is just as you were saying, it’s, it’s a sort of alternative history set in early.
Uh, medieval, not medieval ear. Early 20th century England was a sort of cyber, uh, uh, a diesel punk perhaps more sort of Edwardian than Georgian. And it, it’s, it became almost. How can I put this? It’s not about the rapture per se, but it’s, imagine in a world where, um, religion is real, or at least has some validity.
oh wait, that’s, that’s our world, isn’t it? You know, the, the, the Bible, uh, let me put my cards on the table. First of all, I, I’m a believer, but the Bible in a sense is the ultimate fantasy book because things happen in there that are unbelievable. You’re not, it’s not constrained by it laws and the things that happen and it are quite amazing.
So imagine that you. We’re a, a believer your, your faith actually was able to change things at least, or at least to change yourself. You know, in some ways it, it, it borrows from JK Chesterton’s Father Brown, but also it, it, it, of course, it, it borrows from Gene Wolf’s, uh, long Sun Trilogy as well. So it’s not, uh, I wouldn’t des, I certainly wouldn’t describe it as Christian literature.
But I would describe it as, it, it, okay, it’s science fiction, but the science is the science of evolution and the science of the divine. Maybe is, is that too pretentious? Okay. , if it is, it’s .
Stephen: If it’s too bad, it, it sounds reminiscent of, of like a CS Lewis fantasy. Um,
David: it, it’s not as, as blatantly religious as that, I don’t think.
it’s that color. How about that? How about that? I’m complaining because I’m being compared to a great writer,
ordered by that. I’m like, no, mine is better than his. Oh gosh. I’m Sophie . That’s terrible. You know, if you think of, um, Philip Pullman’s, is it a trilogy? , that, that kind of deals with religious themes, but it’s not necessarily religious. And I think it probably sit closer to that than, um, than, than some of, uh, CS Lewis’s work.
But I, I, there, there would be parallels, but ultimately it doesn’t reject. Religion and it doesn’t reject belief. Okay.
Stephen: When did it come out and have people, uh, been reading it? What feedback have you been getting? The book’s been out, uh, for a little bit. Uh, what type of feedback have you been getting from people?
David: Really good reviews. Really good reviews, really enthusiastic reviews. It’s kind of, it’s CRO Man, which is not the, uh, alternative history, which is, which we were just talking about. Cro Man. The story about the, the son in the box, um, has had very strong reviews. People really like the, the metaphors one, one critic even describe, compared it to the rest, the sleeping giant, which is written by a, a Nobel Prize winner.
So, you know, you can’t complain about that. Um, right. Yeah. You know, just like a point I complain about being compared to sea Earth. So yeah, it, it’s kind of, dark fantasy is always going to be niche, but for people who love like it, They’re so enthusiastic and I’m, I’m so, uh, grateful. Can I use the word fans?
Can I say I’m grateful to my fans? Is that being Yeah. Again, pretentious. Absolutely. I have fans. I, I have people that are quite fanatic and enthusiastic about it and, and really are, are quite almost, um, evangelical about it and say, oh, you must read this book. They must read this book. This book changed my life.
But, and they, they talk. They see things in it that I thought I’d hidden far enough away that no one would see them , but apparently not. particularly about this idea of our behavior mustn’t be shaped by our environment. That we need to make our own decisions and our decisions to behave well and morally and treat people nicely.
And, uh, one review,
Stephen: when you started the book, were those themes a conscious decision or did they kind of come out. As you wrote the book,
David: they came out as I wrote the book. They came out as, as, uh, you, you talk about, um, although I had the good idea of, of where this story was going in the broad sense, uh, it’s, as you say, you, you’re, you’re, you’re picking up these pictures in your mind.
And then you have to respond to them and, and think about right how, how through, through your, through the puppets that you have in, in play in your novel are going to. to, to respond and what values you think are important for them to display. Right. You know, so, um, so if you wanted to, um, encourage bravery, for example, and lots of fantasy.
Writers do this, you know, the hero that’s sticking up for himself and about fighting back and all of these sort of qualities. Or perhaps they want to encourage more cerebral, uh, or to display a more cerebral approach to problems and thinking things through, and, you know, . Third thing in a, in a large way, is a reflection of what goes on and what you think yourself is the way to approach these things.
Stephen: Yes. Right. And no, uh, theme is a big thing with a lot of authors and they try and figure out their theme and write it down and stuff. I haven’t been able to do that myself. It seems. Obviously it’s a reflection of my thinking, but it just seems to come out and I discover it afterwards.
David: Yeah, you know, it’s like Bob Dylan never really has a theme when he writes his great lyrics.
It just is right.
Stephen: Yeah, it just is. I agree. , what are you doing to market the book and get the word out there about the book?
David: Well, yeah, in that, in those terms, I’m not so great, to be honest. I’m not so, so, uh, key, uh, keyed into the. Um, the business side, but I use Twitter. I use, I have my own website, which has loads of stuff that I’ve, I’ve written not from the book, but from, you know, 50 words and short stories and the like.
It, I actually have a, a little web series that are, that are run on there, uh, which is based on my apparently quite racy grandparents. Other things I do is I, I engage with REI and Good Reads and, uh, Facebook and all of these things. I’m, I’m not, Really a marketing expert and I should spend more time to it with it.
But I, I, there’s two things I always want to remind myself that ultimately at the moment, at least, this is a hobby that sounds rather dismissive of it, and it’s not meant to be, because in some ways, uh, your hobby can still be your life . Um, right. But I’m, I’m not, I’m well paid in my job. I would have to give up a lot of money.
To do this full time. Yeah,
Stephen: and I think that is good for a lot of authors to hear because they. Feel they aren’t successful if they have to keep working another job, but it doesn’t mean everybody feels that way and everybody wants to write, uh, five, six books a year or something
David: like that. Yeah, I, I have a friend who does write five, six books a year and, uh, she is successful in, it’s not her full-time job.
She also has a writing degree and she teaches writing and in a way, She’s kind of a bit trapped. Uh, I’m sure she wouldn’t agree with me saying this, but she’s not here. Uh, she has to fulfill the commercial expectations of her publisher. Right.
Stephen: And then she’s got, she’s being controlled , essentially. Yes. Yes.
David: And she’s, you know, um, she’s on radio talking about Robert Burns at Burns night, which is something we have in Scotland, or she’s on, uh, radio discussing, um, the merits of the writing on a BBC production. Or she’s, you know, . She certainly, she, she does, uh, podcasts and she’s, you know, she certainly markets herself very well, and I’m sure her sales are way more than me, but I don’t read her books and say, I wish I’d written that.
And I, I do read her books and I enjoy them. Uh, but I don’t Andrea at the same time.
Stephen: Right. And that’s one of the reasons I. Not even been interested in going traditional. Uh, yeah, it could be an ego boost, but, and I may actually make more money. I’m not sure, but it doesn’t sound like I would, it sounds like I’d be doing just as much work as I am now.
David: I think she’s making a lot of money to be fair. Well, that’s good , but there’s plenty of traditional published that aren’t, uh, making a lot of money. And you can be with a big publisher and you can get dropped. And as she says, uh, cuz she, she teaches writing. She says, I, I, I have all these students and the great writers and they want to be the next f.
If it’s Gerald and, uh, you know, it’s not gonna, that’s not the way it works. It’s probably not the way it ever worked. Right? And, uh, you know, if I, if I make a hundred people happy, 200 people happy, uh, because they ride my boat, then. That’s something. And you know, my wife is a amateur. Uh, again, that, that word makes it sound like I’m demeaning her, her as an artist.
But she can make 200 pounds an hour if she’s got a commission , that’s like $250 an hour. That’s quite a big disparity. If you’re looking to make money, there are better ways to do it than writing. Hello? Hello, David? Yeah,
Stephen: I was just saying. Sorry about that. That’s
David: not a problem. I was just saying if you’re looking to make money, there’s better ways to do it than writing.
Stephen: Yes, definitely. Yeah. Um, But there aren’t a whole lot of ways that are as much fun as Right. If you’re looking
David: to, if you’re looking to, to touch people’s lives. Maybe not, maybe. Right. And that’s a better way to do it the most. I agree.
Stephen: So, um, before we, uh, end this first half of the, uh, interview part of the podcast, do you have any advice for new authors?
David: Enjoy yourself. It’s meant to be. Right. And if it’s not fun, then you’re not going. It’s, it’s not worthwhile. Be happy to make, be happy. It’s a great thing to do. Enjoy yourself. That’s, that’s my advice, my advice with, uh, whatever you’re
Stephen: doing, enjoy it. Yeah. That’s a philosophy I’ve tried to get through to my kids.
I mean, I used to work at a factory and it was hot and sweaty and long hours, and it was repetitive and boring. If I had had the, you know, dark cloud mindset, it would’ve made those 12 hours the worst of my life ever. But had a good attitude and I got through it and I almost looked back on it fondly occasionally.
You know, it’s a lot of, you know, your mindset.
David: Absolutely. Uh, I worked in the factory too. I worked in a, a candy factory. Willy Wonka wasn’t there, but it was a lot of fun. , no gold tickets, no gold tickets. But what did happen was you got to eat the candy straight off. All right.
Stephen: Well, David, tell us one more time where to find you online and what your book is called.
David: My, my book is called, Crow man, and it’s a dark fantasy to see published by brain lag. It’s available on Amazon and other online, uh, outlets, and my website is okay. Ray, D V D R, uh, at uh, wordpress.com and there’s lots of free things that you can read on there that will keep you going for hours and you should enjoy it.
Stephen: Great. All right. Well, thank you for joining us today, and we’ll be back in just a moment with the second half of the podcast.