Morgen: Hello, Dave. I know some of this already as we go to the same writing group (hello Northampton Writers Group) 🙂 but please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Dave: I call myself an Anglo-American. I was born and bred in Chicago, Illinois, USA but left Chicago when I was 47 years old to live permanently in England. I’ve been here 25 years, now. That makes me 72 years old, with the mind of a 21 year old, still eager and curious about life, which are good attributes for a writer.
In 1965 I met my first wife on a blind date in Chicago. She was English and visiting her sister. When she went back to England, we became pen pals for 2 years. This was my first real taste of writing on a regular basis. I found I enjoyed writing and started writing articles on my opinions on many subjects.
After 10 years in England, my first wife died of cancer. I then lived alone for 4 years and wrote short stories and articles, which I had done since I first came to England in 1985. Writing was good therapy and filled the hours.
Then I met my second wife and I had a sounding board again. This brings me to my retirement. Now, I write more than ever. I belong to writer’s groups, I have nothing published yet, but I have received lots of praise for my writing from my peers.
Morgen: You do (including me). 🙂
Dave: I have hopes for a novel I am just finishing, titled “ Web of Guilt, A Chicago Story”. I find writing very satisfying and great ego food.
Morgen: It’s coming along really nicely. 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Dave: Well, my novel is a crime thriller, character study. My short stories deal with the trials and tribulations of the human condition. My articles, of course, are non-fiction, my opinions on things.
Morgen: A mixed bag… like me. 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Dave: Every short story that I’ve submitted to magazines has been rejected. Actually, I’ve kept them in a folder somewhere, but I’d be hard pressed to find them! I get satisfaction from just writing for myself. But, like I said, I get plenty of praise from people who have read my stories, which spurs me on.
Morgen: Including me, maybe I could take a look at your folder and red pen them… ooh, have one or three for my podcast red pen sessions if you’re that brave. What are you working on at the moment / next Dave?
Dave: Well, I’m finishing my novel and I think my next project will be my autobiography. It will be my legacy.
Morgen: Oh so wise (pardon the pun… it honestly wasn’t intended!) to write it – I keep saying to my mum to do hers (she used to be a groom for racing driver Stirling Moss’ sister) but she’s not yet and she’s 80 next month. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Dave: Yes, I try to write something everyday. One day I wrote 1000 words, but usually 250 – 500. I do miss a few days from time to time.
Morgen: Me too (too often). 😦 Well, 500 is 182,500 a year (with Feb 29th off). What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Dave: It exists and it is very frustrating when it hits you. When I get stuck, I write spontaneously about anything that pops into my head. Once I’m writing, I go back to a piece of work in progress and the writing starts flowing again!
Morgen: Best thing to do. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Dave: The writer’s group and sometimes my wife.
Morgen: 🙂 What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Dave: Many of my stories have been set in Chicago. So, I look at my old photos of Chicago and it triggers memories and in turn stories form. I get a lot of my ideas from pictures in magazines and newspapers. Before I sit down to write, I usually relax with my eyes closed and stories sometimes come to mind. It’s a sort of self-hypnosis that taps into the subconscious.
Morgen: I often use pictures in my Monday night writing workshops – they work a treat. 🙂 Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Dave: I write on paper first, I can think about the story better this way. Then after a few pages of longhand I put it on the word processor.
Morgen: And if you’re anything like me, you’ll edit as you type it up. What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Dave: Sometimes I write in silence. But usually I listen to pan pipes or easy listening piano music.
Morgen: I’m with the piano music (Erik Satie is my favourite composer – Gnossienne or Gymnopedie hard to choose). What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Dave: I love to write in first person. I like to live the story very close to the protagonist. I usually use multiple first person narrators. This way you get more views of the action through different character’s eyes. I find third person a little distant from the action for me. I never tried second person.
Morgen: Ooh you must… I’ll give you some second persons (or you could go to sentence starts) 🙂 Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Dave: Yes, a few of my early stories.
Morgen: Me too… but you’re more experienced now and they may surprise you if you go back to them. 🙂 What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Dave: I love being transported into another world when I’m writing. I like the solitude of writing. I don’t like getting stuck and maybe not writing for a couple of days, very frustrating!
Morgen: Try wanting to be not having the time. Feeble excuse actually because I find it every NaNoWriMo and StoryADayMay. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Dave: Read all kinds of books. Join a writers’ group. Take a course in creative writing.
Morgen: Absolutely – and find the time to write (Morgen Bailey!). What do you like to read?
Dave: Thrillers, autobiographies, political and sociological stories. A wide range of authors- Philip Roth, John Irving, Dan Brown and Stephen King. “ The Great Gatsby” is one of my favourites by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Morgen: Ah, Stephen King… a HUGE former favourite of time (I’ve mellowed since… to crime). 🙂 Where can we find out about you and your work?
Dave: I hope to set up my own blog.
Morgen: Oh, do… or if you get stuck, I can help you. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Dave: Someone said to me the other day, “We are all storytellers of our own days!” This intrigued me. Our lives are a subjective narrative. The stories we tell are our identity. Interesting!
Morgen: Finally, is there a question you’d like to ask me? 🙂
Dave: How did you become so passionate about writing? So much so, that you live and breathe the writing life? What triggered it in the beginning?
Morgen: Ooh, now that’s easy, and I’ll keep it short because I’m famous (take after my dad) for cutting a short story long. 🙂 Moved to area, brushed up on languages / computer skills, saw creative writing in the prospectus, joined Sally Spedding’s group, was hooked from the off and took it over when she moved in Wales… been hooked ever since… have especially lived and breathed the last few months. Wow, that was short… maybe I’m not so bad at writing synopses as I thought. 🙂
Morgen: Thank you Dave, it was great getting to know more about you and see you September 8th. 🙂
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog, https://morgensauthorinterviews.wordpress.com, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. I welcome critique for the four new writing groups listed below and / or flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays. For other opportunities see (see Opportunities on this blog).
The full details of the new online writing groups, and their associated Facebook groups, are:
- Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group (http://novelwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/508696639153189)
- Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group (http://poetrywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/388850977875934)
- Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group (http://scriptwritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/319941328108017)
- Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group (http://shortstorywritinggroup.wordpress.com / http://www.facebook.com/groups/544072635605445)
We look forward to reading your comments.