I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, Dave Feakes. Enjoy.
Hello Dave. Can you please introduce yourself?
I'm Dave Feakes, based at Martlesham Heath close to my hometown of Ipswich.
Ah, a fellow Suffolker! How long have you been writing?
Seems like forever! I guess I’ve been writing on and off since my mid teenage years.
What first got you interested in writing?
I suppose I enjoyed English lessons at school and always retained an interest in writing. Various challenges came along which I took on, enjoyed and maintained my writing.
Do you attend a writing group?
I attend Felixstowe Scribblers. The only writing group in the area around 1998.
Why do you attend a writing group?
Initially for support, now to try and help other writers with encouragement and feedback. I enjoy the camaraderie of the writers be they published authors or simply hobby writers.
What is the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
That some of my work has been commended within the group, and by winning the inhouse anonymous Bill Budner Trophy three times. A great honour.
Congratulations. What genre(s) do you write?
I enjoy attempting to write anything, though most short stories usually tend to be more modern work.
Are there any genres that you don't enjoy writing?
I can’t say there is any genre I don’t enjoy at least trying.
What types of things do you write?
I have written some poetry through the years but not enough to be called a poet. I enjoy short stories, writing radio and stage plays and some factual work.
If you write poetry, you're a poet, so says I! Have you ever had anything published?
Yes, I have been published a number of times on the Internet, and in some anthologies, in newspapers but I suppose the main published writing came as a columnist in the Ipswich Speedway programmes for a number of years and as a speedway contributor to two freebie newspapers in the area. I have also published newsletters for one local speedway rider’s fan club, an inhouse publication with InterCity Anglia and Gatwick Express and a few years ago a newsletter for the Felixstowe Scribblers. I have one book published – Ipswich Speedway The First 50 Years (jointly produced with a colleague, Colin Barber, who supplied all the photographs).
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers?
Yes, radio and stage plays all, sadly, rejected!
Would you consider self-publishing/e-publishing?
I always prefer holding a real book in my hands but am not averse to e-publishing where it suits. My speedway book was self published after a dispute with the original publisher who wanted to slash the size of the book by half and reduce the photographic content.
Who/what influences your writing?
Nothing in particular. Sometimes writing just flows, stories come from nowhere. Once in the flow, the stories can lead anywhere. I used to plan my writing but always found it went off at a tangent. At times news events or memories trigger a plot.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
Whatever name is chosen needs to ‘fit’ the character. Some thought is given to each character with enough leeway to allow them to develop.
Do you have a writing routine?
I write on a daily basis, not always on stories but usually end up doing a few hundred words as a minimum. For me, the best time is always late night and into the early hours. That’s when there is far less likelihood of disturbances!
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
A bit of both. Sometimes the plot just goes off on its own course. I let this happen. Usually find this works out quite well.
Do you have an editing process?
Most work I edit myself. Usually leave a day or so in between writing and editing. That helps. One edit is never enough on a major work so I just edit, edit, edit until I am satisfied. At times I will ask my wife for feedback – not always a good idea! On very rare occasions I have asked people who will give truthful feedback.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
I always enjoy what I am writing otherwise there is no point to it. I like the ability to be anyone, be anywhere in the world and create heaven...
How important is it for you to share your writing?
Sharing writing at Felixstowe Scribblers is so very important for apart from the feedback I find I am in an eclectic world of writers each with their own diversity. At Scribblers you can always guarantee a great evening of entertainment. So great being part of it.
Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
Yes. I have read stories at local Writers’ Cafe events in Ipswich.
Apart from the inhouse writing competitions at Felixstowe Scribblers, have you entered any other writing competitions?
Yes. I’ve won a couple of writing competitions which is a real confidence booster.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Find your space, your time and just write. Let the words flow. Get them down on paper (or computer of course) and worry about tidying up the grammar and formatting the story afterwards. Try and write a significant amount every day.
What advice could you give a new writer?
Probably the same as above. I recall my first works, sometimes go back and look at them and absolutely cringe at how bad they were. The more writing that is done, the better it becomes. A Writers’ group certainly helps.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
I enjoy watching speedway and both codes of rugby. Reading.
What types of things do you read? Do you think your writing reflects your book tastes?
Generally like thrillers, sometimes supernatural stories and often read biographies of sportsmen. I don’t think that my reading choices are affected by my writing or, for that matter, vice versa.
What are you working on at the moment?
Apart from my regular short stories for Scribblers my main work is a novel Shadow of the Trees (Working Title).
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Never force your writing. Try to be as natural as possible. Let the words flow. I try always to be relaxed when I write and that produces my best work.
Very good advice. Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
The opening lines from Shadow of the Trees.
The trees swayed wildly, creaking noisily as their leaves rustled in the whistling wind that whipped its way through the forest. With failing light the silvery moon peeked eerily out from behind a cloud casting glittering shadows on the showers of falling leaves before disappearing behind its shroud again.
Pauline Grayling groaned. She forced her hazel coloured eyes open but saw little more than the hazy, dark outline of the trees towering above her. Her laboured breathing was an immediate concern, cold sweat trickled from her brow whilst fear and panic set in as she tried to recall what had happened.
How had she got there? Lying on the forest floor, back so excruciatingly painful. She tried lifting her head but a searing pain shot down her spine. In agony, she screamed out, her eyes welling up with tears. Calling for help seemed logical but her cry was pitifully shallow leaving little chance of being heard.
Again she tried moving her head but the intensity of pain made it impossible. She searched the depths of her memory trying to recall the event that left her motionless amid the imposing trees.
Pauline tried lifting her arms but it was impossible, even wriggling her fingers was an effort too far. Devastated, her mind spun in confusion as she became even more distressed. She closed her eyes and was blind to the moon sliding out from behind the cloud to cast its silvery light on many unseen creatures of the forest.
Pauline heard the soft scrunching sound of twigs and leaves being squashed underfoot, slowly drawing closer to her. Frightened, she cried out again, heart beating frantically.
© Dave Feakes
Thank you very much, Dave.