Monday, 7 May 2007
Author Interview! David Devereux
David Devereux's debut novel 'Hunter's Moon' is published by Gollancz next month, he very kindly let me buy the beers while he answered my questions...
This is your first novel but it isn’t your first published work, does it feel any different this time round?
It still feels scary and weird, I feel like I’m waiting for Jeremy Beadle to pop out and ask for the advance back! The wierdest experience I’ve had with authing was walking into Waterstones one day and seeing copies of ‘Memoirs of an Exorcist’ (my first book) sitting on the bookshelf and then getting emails from people saying how much they had enjoyed it.
What can you guarantee the reader who picks your book up for the first time?
Sex drugs and violence! Plus it’s short and easy to read… Violence isn’t glamorous, it’s brutish and thuggish which is how I wanted it to come across in the book. Jack’s attitude towards violence (and the lengths he will take it to) also shows how disconnected Jack is from the real world and what a messed up individual he really is!
As a writer, what is you relationship with your main character?
It’s a funny one. Although Jack has his upsides, he’s certainly not a guy I’d want to go and have a beer with! I don’t like him but I do respect him for how he copes with what I put him through and how he can laugh it off afterwards.
Will you ever let Jack get out of the business and live a normal life again?
That’s hard to say, these things can have a life of their own and when this happens you know you’re doing it properly. ‘Hunter’s Moon’ spiraled off in it’s own direction at around Chapter Six. I remember looking at what I’d written, looking at my original chapter notes and thinking ‘bloody hell!’
Is ‘Hunter’s Moon’ a fulfillment of an ambition to become a writer or did things just happen by accident?
I got talked into it over a period of two years. I volunteer as an official at the Cambridge Beer Festival and one afternoon all the Deputies were swapping tales at the pub. I mentioned a couple of my experiences, as an exorcist, and my friend Steve Jackson said I should write a book. I didn’t take this seriously but he persisted and a couple of years later I get a call from Steve who says there’s an editor who would like to talk. I agreed to write a test chapter and all of a sudden I had a book deal for ‘Memoirs of an Exorcist’. I’d been running test chapters past Steve who said to me, ‘you should write fiction’. So I sat down and wrote what was to become the introduction to ‘Hunter’s Moon’ and Steve loved it. That gave me the courage to keep going, but it came to the point where I had to put the fiction to one side, to concentrate on ‘Memoirs’. Steve then showed what I'd done so far to his friend Simon Spanton at Gollancz.. Simon has since told me that he basically read it as a favour to a friend, and wasn’t necessarily expecting great things. He loved it and, as I was just getting ready to see ‘Memoirs’ come out, I get the call asking me to lunch.
Considering how it’s all turned out, I’m very conscious of just how lucky I am to be here.
How accurate are the events you portay in ‘Hunter’s Moon’?
The concept for ‘Hunter’s Moon’ came from rumours arising from World War Two and rumours, within certain sections of the occult subculture, regarding shadowy organisations that keep things in line. The rest is writing about what I know and have researched. All the information within ‘Hunter’s Moon’ is as accurate as possible apart from the descriptions of magic. I don’t want anyone going off and trying this stuff out for themselves so I’ve taken great pains to make it plausible on paper but completely unworkable for real. This is made clear in the introduction
You told me once that being an author with Gollancz was like being a part of a big family. This being the case, which relative do you see yourself as?
I suppose I’d be the young cousin who has only just been discovered but still made to feel very welcome and a part of things. At the first Gollancz party I went to, Robert Rankin took me under his wing and we both got very drunk! I’ve also had an email from Jon Courtenay Grimwood telling me that he was looking forward to reading the book. Gollancz is a very level playing field in that respect; once you’re in, it’s because you’re considered good enough. I’m still very much the fan-boy at heart; I love the genre and admire the writers, now I’ve just found myself on the other side of the fence.
What do the next few weeks (pre/post release) hold for you?
I’m actually having a meeting with my publicist this afternoon to formalise this. On June 7th I’ll be one of a group of authors doing a signing at Waterstones, in Piccadilly, where there will be copies of ‘Hunter’s Moon’ available two weeks ahead of the release date. There’s the possibility of another book signing but this hasn’t been confirmed yet.
Gollancz have signed you up for two more of these books, does Jack’s story have a definite ending or are there more to come?
I’m signed for ‘Eagle Rising’, Book 3 is planned but hasn’t been bought. Depending how the first couple of books do, I could see myself writing more.
Tell me a little about the next book, ‘Eagle Rising’
Just four words. ‘This time it’s Nazis…’
Is the second book any easier to write than the first?
No! It’s like that difficult second album. I’ve done it the once and now I need to prove that I can do it again. I’ll always feel like that, I want to continue improving both as a storyteller and in the craft of writing itself. People give me money to write a story, I want to be worthy of it.
What kind of a routine do you have when you’re writing?
I play loud rock and dance music while I write and I end up working to the rhythm of what I’m listening to. I start by reviewing what I wrote previously, it’s good to revisit it with a fresh mind and it brings me up to speed. If I have a set of headphones and no interruptions I can work anywhere but a 30-second phone call can take half an hour out of the day.
What other authors do you like to read?
I have a longstanding love of William Gibson, I read ‘Neuromancer’ when it first came out and his vision is coming true today. I also love to read the old ‘pulp’ detective novels (Raymond Chandler, Lesley Charteris) and I think you can see some of that in ‘Hunter’s Moon’. Richard Morgan’s new book (‘Black Man’) is a stunner and two people who are kicking eight bells out of the fantasy genre right now are Joe Abercrombie and Scott Lynch. But I don’t just read Gollancz books, I’m also enjoying the ‘Dresden Files’ (Jim Butcher) and anything by China Mieville. I must also mention Diana Wynne-Jones and the world’s nicest man, Neil Gaiman,
It’s the night before ‘Hunter’s Moon’ is released, what’s going through your head?
That there’s nothing more I can do other than hope people turn up to the party. I’ll probably do the same thing I did with ‘Memoirs’ and treat myself to a really expensive meal on the day.
Talking of food, your blog shows you’re a dab hand at cooking. What’s your favourite dish?
My favourite dish tends to be the one I cooked yesterday! If we’re talking about a big ‘show-off’ dish though, I do an ultra-slow roasted beef with three day sauce (it really does take three days to make!) and ‘How Much!?” sauce on the side. The name ‘How Much?’ comes from a friend’s reaction when I told him that four servings cost thirty five pounds… When I cook seriously, I cook seriously! I make sure that my private life is incredibly private so I really make the effort for the people I love.
You’re helping out at the Cambridge Beer Festival again this year, will you be able to put ‘Hunter’s Moon’ to one side or will you still be thinking about it?
Even though I’m volunteering, I still have to be focussed on the job at hand. Over the course of the festival I will be part of a team that’s responsible for well over 30,000 visitors so dropping the ball could be problematic. I get an afternoon off and that will be about catching up with friends, some of whom I haven’t seen since the last festival. Given that all this is the result of one of those afternoons, one has to wonder what might happen this year…
Thanks for coming along and letting me interview you, what are your plans for the rest of the day?
I’m meeting with my publicist and agent, then I will probably go home and cook something!