I'd like to welcome you to my interview with writer, David Wake. Enjoy.
Hello David, can you please introduce yourself? Who are you and where are you based?
I'm David Wake.
On Earth.It sounds flippant, but it isn’t. With the advent of e-publishing, we can easily reach anyone anywhere in the entire world.
So true. How long have you been writing?
I did win a writing prize at Primary school for a story about a spaceship hidden in a junkyard. When the story reached the required number of pages, the spaceship blew up. I didn’t really make progress reaching an audience until I discovered drama.
What first got you interested in writing?
I was in a local theatre group and the director wanted us to enter a drama festival. All the suggested one-act plays were about middle aged couples in sour marriages, so I arrogantly said I could write better myself. It was after the prize giving, when we all went out for a curry to celebrate and I was knocking back lager from the huge piece of silverware we’d won, that I thought, I like this.
Which writing groups do you attend? And when did you start going?
Apple – must be ten years ago now.
T-Party – when they run something at a convention.And the drama writing group I run.
All those groups must keep you busy! Why do you attend them?
It amazes me that there are writers who don’t. It strikes me as a good idea to test material before it reaches an audience.
What is the most valuable thing you've taken away from your writing group?
Writing can be lonely (although you are spending time with your characters) and you can lose your sense of perspective. Writing groups give you a chance to recalibrate your critical faculties. It’s nice to meet others with the same addiction.Because your fellow writers write about their hobbies and interests, talking about writing leads to very wide ranging topics of conversation.
I couldn't agree more about writing being lonely. You need to meet with people who are going through the same things as you to make you feel less alone. What genre(s) do you write?
Let’s see: martial arts, political thriller, SF satire and steampunk in the novels, and romantic comedies and disturbing psychological pieces for theatre. I guess the real reason is always that they seem like a good idea at the time. Genre is a strange concept though: my political thriller has a romantic sub-plot, so is it really a romance with an exciting backdrop.
(You can find more about steampunk here - RG)
Wow, that all sounds intriguing. Is there anything you don't write?
Poetry, because I’m very bad at it.
Have you ever had anything published?
I’ve had five one-act plays published by New Theatre Publications, some drabbles by Beccon Publications, a short story in the MA anthology, and a novella, The Other Christmas Carol, and novel, I, Phone, as ebooks by Watledge Books.
Have you sent your writing to agents/publishers? Have you received any rejections?
I have done over the years, but I am giving up on approaching legacy publishing directly. They tend to spend two years before admitting that they’ve lost the manuscript and then rejecting the second copy in haste to make up for it. I’m trying the e-publishing, build an audience, and oh, so now you want to talk to me approach.
I have achieved my ‘Rowling’, which is 12 rejections and something every writer should achieve.
I've had 10 rejections, so I only need 2 more! What made you decide to e-publish?
I recently did an MA in Writing and it was the screenwriting tutor who converted me to ebooks. He gave me a book (well, a .pdf file) to read. I’d added a Kindle to my Christmas list by page 10, bought it by page 20 and by page 30 I was formatting material and published my Christmas story by Christmas. I had an astonishingly quick conversion and I now prefer reading on the Kindle to paper.
I'm avoiding the world of e-books; maybe I'm a bit afraid that I'll prefer it to paper made books! Who/what influences your writing? Where do you get your inspiration from?
“Where do you get your ideas from?” is always an unsatisfying question. Writers never answer it properly, because they don’t really understand it. It puts the carts before the horse. The truth is that everyone gets plenty of ideas all the time. Our brains fire neurons continuously. The trick is spotting when you’ve had an idea and writing it down. It’s really the other way around: your inspiration demands that you write the story.
How do you come up with your characters' names and personalities?
I don’t have a set way of doing this at all. Writing means that you are spending time with these characters and they, it seems, let you know who they are. As for names, they are all Asimov, Banks, Clarke and Dick... until I get around to re-arranging the shelves opposite my desk.
Do you have a writing routine?
I’m not sure I have a routine as such. A particularly method works for a while and then, changes in circumstances, or simply switching from, say, writing to editing, means I’ve a different modus operandi. I think you should write every day and if I’m giving writing advice, then yes, I do every day.
Do you start out with a complete idea for your stories, or do you just start writing and hope for the best?
I’ve done both: started with the equivalent of ‘Once upon a time’ and kept writing until 80,000 words later I reached “The End”, and I’ve also intensively plotted on a single sheet of A4 for nearly a month. The latter is better, but I don’t have the discipline to keep putting it off as I want to get on with it.
I'm the same. I'm fairly impatient and I just want to get on with it. Do you have an editing process?
This is so important.
For my plays I get actors to read the parts with an audience present. Everyone’s comments are extremely useful as is watching people’s faces as the piece is performed. If you are writing a comedy, a tick in the margin when the gag gets a laugh lets you know what’s working and what perhaps isn’t. It's obvious with comedy, but nonetheless that audience reaction occurs (differently) in other types and can give you a crucial insight into the piece.Reading prose aloud is also important and it’s probably THE lesson from my MA. I’m not sure about the mirror, but to an imagined someone is my method. I stand up and walk about trying to act it.Writing groups and other readers is the way to go too.This time around I employed a professional editor to give the novel a once over.
What do you enjoy the most/least about writing?
When it’s flowing and the characters know what the story is about, then it’s wonderful. When the characters haven’t a clue, then it’s like getting blood from a stone.
That's so annoying, isn't it?! When a character doesn't know their job! Pfft! How important is it for you to share your writing?
To my mind, if your writing doesn’t reach an audience, then what is the point? However, I’m willing to accept that others write for different reasons.
Have you ever entered any writing competitions? Have you ever won?
I have won a lot of silverware at the All England Drama Festivals; and very nice it was too, except that you have to give it back after a year.
Aw, that's a bit rubbish. I guess it just means that you have to win it year after year in order to keep it. Have you ever attended an open mic event for spoken word performers?
I’ve seen an extraordinary amount of theatre, particularly at the Edinburgh Fringe where you can see three or four a day (or more, but it fries your brain), although I’ve seen very little spoken word. I have read my own material at author readings.
What is the best piece of writing advice you've ever been given?
Get on with it.
What advice could you give to a new writer?
Get on with it.
Writing is a practical subject, you learn by doing. Fair enough: courses, books and so forth can help - they do help - but at some point you have to do the physical typing.Learn to touch type: I think and it appears on the screen without my being conscious of the intervening finger and keyboard clattering.
Apart from writing, what are your other hobbies/interests?
The problem with that question is the word ‘apart’. Any interest wangles its way into the writing sooner or later. You go on holiday to Japan and then, lo and behold, you are writing a novel set in Ancient Japan.
That is true, although I did go on holiday to Japan and I haven't yet written about Ancient Japan ... If you could have written anything, what do yo wish that could have been?
The Da Vinci Code, Fifty Shades of Grey, Harry Potter, The Lord of the Rings...
Actually, the books I have written are very close to the books I wanted to write.
What are you reading now?
I’m currently reading three books that a friend gave me for my birthday. They were, he said, the three books that most influenced him. I feel I ought to return the favour on his birthday, so those books would be... hmmm, tricky.
I couldn't pick just three books that most influenced me. There are so many great books out there. Do you have any favourite lines from novels/plays/poetry/songs, or any favourite literary quotations?
Ritter You are such a boy scout. Look at you! You see everything in black and white.
Ryan No, no, no... not black and white, Ritter. Right and wrong!Clear and Present Danger
That sounds like something I would say! What are you working on at the moment?
A play about Jung’s Collective Unconscious and a steampunk novel.
Do you have a website/blog/Twitter/Facebook dedicated to your writing?
Is there anything else you'd like to add?
An invoice. ;-)
I think that must have got lost in the post ... Would you be able to provide a short piece of your work?
I, Phone is a novel set in the near future when phones are more intelligent that their owners, but they are still thrown away as fashion accessories. This is the opening page or so of my novel.
I, Phone, commence this contemporaneous natural language log as a forensic witness statement using the Black Box App. Hopefully, enough of me will survive to be admissible in court. I am the legal property of Miss Alice Wooster, who resides at Upper 328a Top Bond Street, London, for the purposes of package delivery and network registration. She is about to be murdered.
Alice, the victim, is a Welcomer for Ushers International in Wonderful World, a professional who has learnt how to chew without the jaw movements being replicated by her avatar via her VR-Box. She is rated ‘popular’ as she has 2,367 friends spread over 15 social networking sites as well as belonging to 37 dating communities (full list available at AliceWooster335). Although she wants a proper relationship, she is still classed as ‘female, 23, single, interested in men, looking for a relationship, liberal, Gemini, agnostic’ as she has not found the right man yet. She has tried ‘looking for dating’, ‘looking for fun’ and ‘looking for anything’ in order not to sound desperate, clingy or mad. “For goodness sake, Jeeves,” she once said, “I’m not desperate or anything, but I don’t want to end up on the shelf - you don’t know what that’s like!” I find this a strange observation, because I do know what it is like to be on a shelf and she must be aware of this because she physically bought me from Phone Home.
So, for the record, I am a golden candy-bar style phone, slightly scuffed, with all the usual features.
Introduction over, I shall now transfer my local cache memories, both observations and thoughts, into this log. In accordance with Alice’s User Profile, these start exactly 8 hours ago.
Thus at 16:57:04.032 GMT, I was lying on the auto-Davenport by the front door, backed-up, updated, charged and ready to go, and Alice was alive and working in her study.
Memory cache transferring...
- 0.0 of 8.0 hour(s).
© David Wake
The rest of it is available for the Kindle from Amazon http://www.amazon.co.uk/I-Phone-ebook/dp/B00AQZWHLE
Thank you very much David.