Author Interview with Awesomegang.com
Here's an Interview David Carter gave to the awesomegang.com website.
Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
Hello to you wherever you may be.
My name is David Carter and I am based in Christchurch, Dorset, England, and I have written eight books, though like many other writers I must have written at least that number again that for whatever reason have never been completed. Sometimes they work out… and sometimes they don’t!
Besides writing books I am also an active bookseller, though more often than not they are other people’s titles, (weep weep!) but I am working hard on that. I have at any one time over 12,000 titles in stock so that keeps me out of mischief, at least for most of the time.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Good question. My latest book which is out this very week (February 2014) and I’m excited about that, is called “The Sound of Sirens” and it’s a murder mystery thriller type thing featuring my detective, Inspector Walter Darriteau, and like all his cases it is set in and around Chester in the north-west of England.
What inspired it was that I saw on TV, on one of those true life crime fighting programmes, a guy walk into a pub one night, and this was all shown on CCTV graphic footage – and he simply pulled out a gun and shot dead some unfortunate soul who was peacefully going about the serious business of playing a game of pool.
And I couldn’t get this image out of my head, and kept thinking about it, and began wondering why the gunman did that, what drove him to do that, and what had the pool player done to deserve such a dreadful fate, and the more I thought about it, the more complicated it became, and I imagined that there had to be a decent book in there somewhere, and from that brief incident “The Sound of Sirens” grew into a 325 page murder mystery book.
The funny thing was that I already had a great ending for the book (Well I think so, you will have to make up your own mind on that!) that I had previously written in a short story a couple of years before, and it just fitted perfectly with where the story was going, so the two became married together and this book is the result. As I said, sometimes these things work out... and sometimes they don’t!
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
I don’t know about unusual, but I try and write as much of the book as I can in my head – I do have a good memory and that helps! – so for example I write a fair bit – in my mind – last thing at night before I fall asleep, and just so long as it doesn’t keep me awake, which is does sometimes, I can usually remember almost all of it in the morning and then, of course, I am hurrying to get it down before I really do forget anything. The funny thing is that when I wake up sometimes the story has gone in a completely different direction, and occasionally there are whole new chapters there that I hadn’t even thought of before. Weird I know, but true nonetheless.
If I get stuck on something, not writer’s block, I never suffer from that, but stuck in so far as the story isn’t panning out as I want, I find that a good walk can often help with that.
I am lucky enough to live by the coast and most mornings I will go for a brief walk along the cliffs and “write” my book in my mind, and that often inspires me, in fact the blowier, (more blowy? – is there a word “blowier”? – hold on a sec, I’ll check, yes, blowier’s good, even though my spellchecker doesn’t like it!) the blowier the better, for writing and solving problems.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
There are a lot, but of course most of them are the same writers I happen to read, so for example John le Carré, Robert Harris, Lee Child, John Grisham, and to a lesser extent, Stephen King, and when I was a teenager, Ian Fleming, and when I was a school kid, the novels of G A Henty, a writer who seems almost forgotten now. I also enjoy sports’ biographies too, and the better ones in that field, particularly cricket ones, do make their mark.
What are you working on now?
I am proofreading a new 150,000 word novel entitled “The Illegal and the Illicit” which is another murder mystery type thing that is set within the commodity trading world, and I have already started another Inspector Walter Darriteau case, so far untitled, and if that isn’t enough, a few ladies have asked me to write a sequel to “The Life and Loves of Gringo Greene” which I will probably do, so that will keep me busy for the foreseeable future. Hopefully I will finish them before the lights go out.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
I am something of a greenhorn when it comes to marketing and promoting my books, and have been spending some time researching various websites that might help me to do precisely that.
In fact that research brought me to this awesome website – sorry about the pun, but for what it’s worth, I think the best thing one can do is to tell people at every opportunity about your books, especially when you have one that is newly released. Don’t be shy, don’t be bashful, get the info out there and tell people!
I also have my own website too of course at www.davidcarterbooks.co.uk.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
I am not sure I am qualified to give advice, but if I had to offer something I would repeat what Stephen King says, and that is to read more. If you haven’t got the time to read then you haven’t got time to write. By reading more you will find that your own writing will improve considerably, almost without you noticing.
Another thing I always do and would recommend is to read your work out loud. That will often show up any clunkiness that has crept in, and it especially helps with dialogue. If there is a lot of dialogue it’s great if you have someone else to read an opposite part, then so much the better, and that can be fun too, sharing passages of dialogue with a loved one long before the book finally sees the light of day. Try it!
And lastly I would say, and I know this is hard to do, but don’t be in too much of a hurry to put your stuff out there. We have all seen and read indie books that have been published way before they were ready, (I have made that mistake myself!) so be patient! Take great care over your work, and only release it when the book is as best as it possibly could be.
Ideally, if you can stash it under the bed for a year after you have finished it, so much the better. You will surely see improvements and corrections when you look at it again with a fresh eye.
When I finished “The Life and Loves of Gringo Greene” I stored it under the bed and it stayed there for five years. When I eventually brought it out I edited it down from 550 pages to 425 pages and it’s a much better book for that. It is not perfect by any means, but it sure as heck is a lot better read than it would have been if I had published it as it was.
Oh, and double lastly, try and incorporate some humour, or humor if you prefer, into the book. I write grizzly murder thrillers, but there is always an element of humour in there too somewhere.
What is it they say? “You can win a woman’s heart if you can make her laugh”, and maybe that should be: “You will write a successful book if you can make your readers laugh”.
One of the reviewers recently wrote about “The Sound of Sirens”:
What’s more, there is the trademark David Carter humor—not the laugh-out-loud kind, but the kind that burbles thinly underneath the plot with enough consistency to serve effectively as comic relief from all the mounting tension…
Which is precisely the reaction I was hoping to receive, and that was good to read.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
Not sure whether you mean to do with writing, or life in general, with that question, but the same advice is probably appropriate, and that is to make the most of every single day – for you only have so many of them.
And, try always to be honest, it’s not always easy I know, but it is the best way, and as my old boss used to say: Treat everyone as you would wish to be treated yourself. That’s good advice for sure.
What are you reading now?
I have just finished last night Robert Harris’s “An Officer and a Spy” about the Dreyfus affair that rocked France to its foundations at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, and I would certainly recommend that highly. There are lessons in there even for today.
Today I bought a book that caught my eye called “True Stories of D-Day” by Henry Brook. My dad served at D-Day. He was minesweeping off the French coast all night before the main task force went in.
It is the 70th anniversary of D-Day this year, 2014, and it’s important that we remember all those incredibly brave guys who went from these shores around here, British, American, and Canadian, to liberate the Continent, far too many of whom never came back.
So I will read that, and then I have the latest Lee Child and John Grisham books to read on my bedside table, untouched Christmas presents, so plenty to be going on with.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I think I have covered that one already, but I would also like to find a good literary agent, but if I don’t, I am happy to continue on the indie publishing road. That way I have all the control, and it sure as heck beats leaving them for ever gaining dust in the drawer, or in my case, under the bed!
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
People usually answer this one with the Bible, and the complete works of Shakespeare, and come to think of it to my shame I don’t really know the works of Mister Shakespeare that well, so yes, I will take “The Complete Works of William Shakespeare” which would keep me quiet for a very long time, and at least when I was rescued, always assuming I would be rescued, at least I could answer those tricky TV quiz questions such as: from which Shakespeare play does Puck come? A-hah! I’m not saying!!!!
I like family sagas too, preferably with an undertone of war and disruption, so I guess the obvious one is “War and Peace” – over a thousand pages, so again I am looking for good value for money.
Then I’d like, and this one will mean absolutely nothing to American gentlemen, but any Englishman will know immediately what the book is all about, the latest issue of Wisden’s Annual Almanack. The current edition is the 150th and runs to 1,584 pages, so great value again, you see, and untold hours of pleasure and entertainment!!!
Lastly, and no, this is not a vanity trip, but I would like my biggest and most recent unreleased book that I could spend as much time on as was left to me, proofreading, re-writing, editing, and correcting, so that when I eventually came home, under my arm would be the most perfect book that I was ever capable of writing. There wouldn’t even be so much as a curly comma out of place!!
Thank you for reading this far, and I hope I haven’t bored you to tears, and a big thank you too to this Awesomegang website and the people behind the screen, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my books. I appreciate it.
Happy reading, and have fun,
Time for some video after all that verbiage.
So you want some good advice for writers? Well here's a great interview with Elmore Leonard giving you exactly that. Elmore Leonard sold his first story as long ago as 1951 and this is a great seven-minute video. Enjoy...
Wasn't that a great video? I think it's possibly the best advice video for writers I have ever seen.
Thank you, Elmore.
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This is another Author Interview David Carter recently completed with Book Goodies.
I have been writing for more years than I care to remember, initially business articles for newspapers and magazines and latterly for websites. It was only a short step from there to writing books - I have now written more than a dozen, both fiction and non fiction.
What inspires you to write?
I write because I enjoy it - it is as simple as that - and if other people enjoy the results then that is all the more satisfying. Of course the cream on the cake is when I get paid for it too! It happens.
What is your writing process?
I try and write something every day and if I don't I feel the day has been wasted. (We all have only so many days!) I am a quick writer so when the flow is really coming I can comfortably produce a large chunk in any one day. The part that takes the most concentration and effort, in my case, is the re-writing, proofreading and correction which tests the patience and stickability, when really I want to get on with the next project. I have to force myself to finish what I have started.
I try and write the end of a novel first, at least in my own mind, as recommended by John Irving, and this I did in my new book "The Sound of Sirens" and I think, it is all the better for that. But of course once the story really takes off and takes over, inevitably, there is a bit of "seat of the pants" stuff in there too.
Do you listen to, or talk to, your characters?
Neither - I try and set myself in the shoes of whichever character is talking and thinking of at the time, and by doing that I believe the dialog that comes out of their mouths, and their actions, are all the more realistic, and hopefully that sense of realism conveys itself to the reader, and makes the book and the story all the more believable, and enjoyable too.
What advice would you give to other writers?
Stephen King's advice is better than anything I could give and that is simply to read more. If you can't find the time to read you will never find the time to write. By reading more you will find your own writing improves immeasurably. You will notice various things that will constantly improve your writing.
The second piece of advice is to always read your stuff out loud! If you skim over it in silence you will miss lots of hints that all is not as good as it could be. If you read aloud "clunkyness" always rears its head, and that enables you to fix it. If there is lots of dialog and you can get someone else to read another part, then so much the better.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
Like so many others I have tried sending stuff to agents and publishers over the years without too much success, so self publishing is the only other available avenue. I am happy with that because I retain so much control of the whole process, but if there is a literary agent out there who could help me take my writing to another level, well, that would be nice. You know where I am! Contact me here
What do you think of the future of book publishing?
Electronic publishing must surely take an ever larger slice of the pie - though I believe there will always be a place for traditional books. Personally, I much prefer to read a "book" than a screen, and I am not alone in that.
Time for some video. Here is Stephen King and Audrey Niffenegger talking about their writing and how they go about their craft. Nice video it is too.