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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Author Interview: Dave Lacey

Today I am pleased to present to you all the thirty-eighth in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the secret singer Dave Lacey, and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Dave:  I like to sit at home, with music on pretty loud. Usually something without lyrics, maybe some classical, I love the Tron Legacy soundtrack, or some Cell.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Dave:  Hmm, this is tricky. I love thrillers, in both book and film format. I like Crime Thrillers quite a bit. I’m a big fan off Conn Iggulden too, he writes Historical Fiction. But I also like Jo Nesbo, Wilbur Smith, Lee Child and CJ Sansom. I like the way they all write, mostly with an economy of words yet are totally gripping. I think mostly Conn Iggulden.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Dave:  Tricky again. It would probably appear quite messy, with lots of random thoughts and ideas swishing around competing with each other. I love the way an idea drops in, sometimes born out of something I am watching or reading, and then starts to walk and gradually run all by itself. It almost becomes a living breathing thing within minutes. When writing, it feels sluggish to begin with, then everything just comes out in a rush, almost a creative orgasm.

Paul:  What is a typical day for you? 
Dave:  Get up, workout, go to work. I then finish work, and stay behind to write for an hour or so. Its very peaceful when everybody has gone home, and is the perfect place to write. Just me, my thoughts and the sounds of Autumn. Then its home for around seven for tea, and some TV, before going to bed to read.

Paul:  Do you have a favorite character in each of your series, aside from the lead? If so, which one and why? 
Dave:  In the first series (The Auslander Series) it would probably be Clarence the hired gun. Initially he was going to be a mere shadow, a figure seen departing a crime scene. But then in his first chapter, he became something more. He’s delightfully mad really. And then from the next series (for children) there is a recurring character called Lord Greasby, and he’s very unpleasant, but makes me laugh at just the thought of him.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
Dave:  I’ve not being doing this for too long, but there is one mistake I made that I wish I had considered before I started. And that is, not to assume you will just shift books the minute you have published them. And regardless of how much everybody says it, on websites, twitter feeds, articles and blogs, you have to get involved in marketing yourself and your books. It’s tough, but you have to get out in the hard yards. I’m not a salesman, but fortunately you don’t have to do anything too pushy, just be persistent.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Dave:  I never thought I would say this, but I’ve gotten to the point where I need to write most of the time. If I don’t, I start to get restless and fidgety. So I make time, even if its only twenty minutes. Also, I have to set myself a target. When you begin, a hundred thousand words or more seems like a distant, but overwhelming dream. But breaking it down into a thousand words a day makes it much more manageable.

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Dave:  Actually, I can’t think of a single thing that I wouldn’t want you to tell the readers. Except for my bank details. I’d rather keep those private.

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Dave:  I am. I sent my first manuscript to one agent and got a no. And me being way too sensitive, I decided I couldn’t cope, or wait for, a few dozen agents to reply, probably with a no. So I took the Amazon self publishing route. I am however going to try to get my children's series published.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Dave:  I plot them, to give me an outline, and provide direction to my end goal. It’s not prescriptive however, I find the whole thing very organic as I said earlier with reference to Clarence. Sometimes you totally change where the plot is going, sometimes you just have good little ideas along the way to add to it. But I do like the idea of one day just beginning and seeing where it takes me.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Dave:  I will go through once, before giving to my editor, and try to re-write anything I don’t like the look of. Then when I get it back from her, I try my best not to take anything personally, and just get on the with the business of doing the re-write. I find the whole re-writing process difficult though.

Paul:  Do you have to do much research for your stories?
Dave:  As yet, with the books I have written, I have not had to do extensive amounts of research. There was a little with The End (book 1 of The Auslander Series), and a bit more with the children's series (No series title yet, but book 1 is called The Golden Path). There will be quite a bit more research as that series develops.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Dave:  Yeah, The Golden Path is my most recent book. I finished it a couple of months ago, and its currently with my editor. I’ve just submitted that to the Harper Voyager open submissions period. It’s a supernatural series with the main characters being teenagers. I really like the premise, but as I’m sure you know, that doesn’t necessarily translate into someone else liking it. It’s a big themed idea, and involves some familiar and some new supernatural beings.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Dave:  I was driving to work one morning and saw a teenage girl walking along the pavement. She was a big girl with red hair, and she walked with her head turned away from the road and any passersby, looking at the floor and not making eye contact. She was trying her best to make herself as small and unnoticeable as possible. And in my head I just imagined all the abuse she probably takes, the bullying and such. It was quite emotional. But it made me think, what if I could make Ange a hero? What if I could make her terrible life to this point meaningless? And so that’s what I did with the book.

Paul:  Do you have any pieces of work that will never see the light of day?
Dave:  Not to this date no. I think that’s one of the first things you have to get used to isn’t it? Writing something, that up until that point is private. While you’re the only person who knows what it is and where it goes, it’s the greatest idea in the world. The minute you hand it over, you feel stripped bear, naked. But once you do get past that, I think it’s easier to hand things around.

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Dave:  I entered the competition. You submit around 7,000 words, and the idea is you obtain reading assignments. When you have read other people's work, you then answer questions based on the assignment. Once you have done so successfully, you earn a credit which you then use to have your chapters read by somebody else. The object is to have your book read and reviewed by as many people as possible, and get into the top ten. If you do that, your work is critiqued by the top publishing houses. I reached number 18 from around five thousand pieces of work, before I ran out of time and therefore assignments. It is essential to keep reading other people's work. But I think this makes it very good for everyone.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Dave:  I try to do as much as I can, but it’s hard knowing what to do some of the time. Opportunities like this are golden, hence the reason I snapped it up. I try not to ram things down people’s throats on Twitter, as I don’t know how far it gets you. But there are some great sites out there that will advertise your book for you when you have a free giveaway coming up. I struggle with the US though, as I have no reviews from that side of the pond. Reviews are very important. But I persevere anyway, you never know.

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Dave:  Re-writes. It absolutely bores me rigid. It’s terrible I know, but I think once I’ve written it, I don’t want to see it for a while, let alone go through each and every last line and make changes. It’s because you’ve lived and breathed for over half the year, sometimes a lot more, you need some distance. My editor tells me I should cherish it, it’s my opportunity to make it even better, to polish and caress it into life. I’m sure she’s right.

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?
Dave:  Aha, I’m glad you asked. In my spare time, I lay down the odd vocal for a friend who makes music. I read a lot, and watch as many movies as I can. And I play rugby and golf, although these days less and less due to the time constraints.

Paul:  Well thanks, Dave. That was great. I wish you every success for the future.

About Dave Lacey: I was born in Liverpool in 1971. I was a slow starter in terms of reading, and didn't begin to read fiction until my Dad realised I was bored one day. He opened the door to my room, threw me a book (Wilbur Smith's Rage), and I was hooked. I read everything Wilbur Smith wrote.

Since then, I have drifted from one author to another, but of late have settled into Jo Nesbo and Conn Iggulden, both of whom are fantastic writers. I like to think that one day I might be included in the same bracket, who knows. Until then, I will continue to write, another late developing habit of mine. The End is part one of a trilogy, with part two following middle of 2013. I am also currently working on a separate series, aimed at the children's market .

Dave's Blog: LazeyInk
Dave on Twitter: @thelace_no1
Dave on Facebook: Dave Lacey
Dave's latest book: The End (Amazon)

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