>Dave Jeffery Interview
Hello folks, today we have an interview with UK author Dave Jeffery .
Q. Hi, Dave how are you? Could you give us some background info on your writing?
A. Hi Jim, I’m pretty damn fine, thank you. My writing? Well I write YA fiction in a variety of genres, be that adventure/mysteries as with the Beatrice Beecham Series, contemporary novels with a twist as in Finding Jericho and straight horror as in Campfire Chillers. For the adult market I tend to stay with horror and supernatural themes. That’s not by design, it’s just that I go where the muse takes me, and with adults, horror and supernatural tales tend to shout the loudest.
Q. I see you have a thing for DC Thompson comics, which comic is your favourite The Dandy or The Beano. Personally it always The Dandy for me.
A. I used to know Charlie Grigg who drew Korky the Cat and Desperate Dan. So it’s the Dandy for me too. He encouraged me to send my portfolio to DC Thompson who kindly invited me up there to have a look around their studio. They told me I had promise as a cartoon artist, but I never followed through. My passion was always the stories I told, not the images I drew.
Q. Have you been to Dundee since they erected some statues in honour of the Comics.
A. ‘fraid not. If I ever head that way again I most certainly will visit and check ’em out.
Q. If you want the next time I’m in Dundee I’ll take some photos?
A. Oh, wow – would you? I’d really appreciate that.
Q. Can you tell us what brought you to write the Beatrice Beecham novels? Did you always want to write a Young Adult book?
A. I’d always wanted to write an adventure mystery novel that was filled with the kind of things I loved as a kid. I grew up on Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Famous Five and those kind of books. But I also loved the idea that the villains could be sometimes human and sometimes not. The motivation to write Beatrice was to rekindle those elements from my youth. In essence: to manage my mid-life crisis I created Beatrice!
Q. What are your thoughts on the current feeling that Young Adult books are too racy and deal with subjects better suited to adult books?
A. Interesting one this, given that I’m a parent who is keen to have his kids enjoy the innocence of childhood. However I feel that there’s a danger that we emotionally stunt our children by censoring what they can and can’t have access to and leave them vulnerable to making the kind of mistakes we’re trying to protect them against. My perspective is that literature has to be balanced and have quality to it, there’s junk out there that gives false perspectives; using shock values as cheap entertainment rather than send a viable and valuable message.
Q. Do you think Young Adult books have lost some of their innocence?
A. The easy one to this would be to say “yes” because the appeal of many YA series these days extends to adults. But adults are delving into these books for a variety of other reasons, the humour or the sense of nostalgia that drove me to write Beatrice Beecham. But YA’s are also putting pressure on the markets – especially in the horror genre. When I was a young adult I was reading adult horror literature. I grew up reading Guy N Smith, James Herbert and Stephen King. I read THE FOG when I was twelve.
Q. I here that you are to co-write a novel with Guy N Smith set in his Crabs universe. That must feel like being a kid in a sweet shop?
A. I still can’t believe it. As I said, I grew up reading his novels. I can remember reading NIGHT OF THE CRABS sitting on a wall in the school playground. I recently wrote the prologue to the new Crabs book and halfway through started laughing out loud. It’s so surreal. Guy has been really supportive. I’m indebted to him.
Q You released Necropolis Rising last year as an ebook. How has that panned out?
A. Necropolis Rising has been well received by the zombie community. I tested the water with Splatoon, a free chapbook I released through Smashwords, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. When Necropolis Rising was released, there was a slow spell as the promotional machine warmed up its engine. At the moment I’m pretty happy with how things are going with it and how people have reacted to it. I intend to write a second book following the survivors since I’m interested how it ends for them. But that’s for another year.
Q. Are you embracing the rise of the e-book or are you still wary of it?
A. I’m totally committed to releasing my work in all mediums. I own an e-reader, and some of my favourite writers at the moment release exclusively in e-book format. Since releasing a variety of novels, anthologies and short stories on Smashwords and Feedbooks I have been astounded that I’ve had over 30,000 downloads in just under four months. I’m so grateful for those who have taken the time to read what I do.
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors?
A. I have many favorites spanning the genres. For horror I love Stephen King, Guy N Smith, James Herbert and Shaun Hutson. For Indy horror I’m an admirer of Garry Charles, Stuart Neild and Ian Woodhead, as well as William Meikle and I’ve had the honour of working with these people over the past year. I have great respect for them all.
I’m a huge fan of Iain Banks and Lee Child, but my all time favorite author is Steinbeck. When it comes to characterization, for me, there is no other writer who comes near. Cannery row is my all time favorite book.
Q. Do you hear from your readers much?
A. I’m in frequent contact with a lot of Beatrice Beecham fans. They are dedicated to the cause and want to see more of her. I have had some of the adult horror fans get in touch via Facebook and email telling how much they enjoy my work. I’m always humbled by comments. I’m under no illusion that without readers, authors are nothing.
Q. Have you ever had any interesting request from your fans?
A. Most fan requests involve queries concerning when I am visiting their home town (or country) so that I can sign their books and talk to them about up and coming work. Some fans are keen to know what is going to happen next in the Beatrice Beecham series. The strangest question I’ve been asked was if my Vietnam zombie chapbook Splatoon was based on a true story!
Q. I see that you are on the roster for Dark Continents Publishing. What drew you them, especially considering that they are a brand new outfit?
A. I love their ethic. Collaborative working and authors supporting the process made the decision to go with them a no-brainer. Not all publishers support such notions. I also respect those already involved; as artists and as people.
Q. There does seem to be a banding together of likeminded authors, do you think this may be the way forward?
A. Collaborative working has always been a good way to create longevity in business. I cannot see any other way for independent writers to move forwards. This is why I believe Dark Continents have the edge, it is a vehicle driven by authors in which everyone is going to benefit from the journey.
Q. How does working as a Mental Health Practitioner effect your writing?
A. It helps me focus on characters and dialogue. People and communication are integral to the role and shaping realistic dialogue and making the readers respond to the nuances of each character are factors that drive the narrative for me. I’m careful not to portray my human monsters as being mentally ill, nor do I ascribe psychiatric labels to rationalise acts of inhumanity. I leave that to the ignorant.
Q. How hard was it to write Finding Jericho? It’s a tough subject to write about?
A. Finding Jericho was easy to write in terms of storyline, plotting and characters. What made it difficult was that the things that made it easy were drawn from real life experiences of people I’ve been privileged to work with over the years. There’s a lot of emotional energy in Finding Jericho. It’s a pathos piece, designed to entertain but there is a clear educational message to the reader: anyone can become mentally ill; all it takes is the right set of circumstances and the wrong kind of luck. Having it endorsed by MIND was a real honour. I consider the book a personal favourite.
Q. How did the endorsement come about?
A. My publisher set them a copy and they said that it was something that was very different given its target audience. MIND extend this however on their website since they suggest it is also good reading material for adults who wish to know about the stigmatization of the mentally ill but delivered in a way that entertains rather than preaches.
Q. Can you tell us who you actually go about writing? Do you have any rituals you go through?
A. I have no ritual as such, but it often starts with mentally mapping out the story in my head. I get ideas from everywhere. I recall recently seeing a laundry bag hanging in the middle of the dry cleaners whilst I was picking up my wife’s suit. As I was handing over the receipt I imagined what would happen if that bag started moving. What would I do? How would I react? And just what was exactly in there?This is how stories begin in this head of mine. By the time I sit at the computer I’m pretty sure how the story will pan out on the page. I do write down the background details of my characters before I write about them. If I don’t get any ideas, I never force it. There’s nothing worse than sitting staring at a blank screen and forcing ideas to come.
Q. Apart from the aforementioned Guy N Smith book. If you could co – author a novel set in another author’s universe whose would it be and why?
A. I’d love to co-write a RATS book with James Herbert purely because, along with Guy, he inspired me to write in this genre. Plus, I have some ideas he might just buy! There’s a homage to THE RATS in Necropolis Rising. I couldn’t resist it.
Q. I see you also play in a band, if you could become world famous as an author or a musician which one would it be?
A. My band playing days are long gone. I was pretty rubbish to be honest. If I had the choice, I’d have to say writer since storytelling comes far more naturally to me than playing a guitar.
Q. Can you tell us of any upcoming projects?
A. Campfire Chillers will be released through Dark Continents this autumn and I’m also preparing the third Beatrice Beecham novel Cryptic Crypt for them. Also, there’s Crabs: Apocalypse!, and we’re hoping for a late 2011 release.
On the anthology front, I have short stories released through Imprint Phoenix, Hersham Horror and I will be editing Horror Showcase Volume II with contributions from Garry Charles, Stuart Neild and Ian Woodhead.
Once these projects are done, there will be the sequel to Necropolis Rising, Night of the Necromancer. All of this promises to keep me out of mischief for a while.
Many thanks to Dave Jeffery for doing the interview. Dave’s books can be found here