Interview: 5 Minutes With Dave Watson
Today is the turn of Dave Watson. Dave Watson began writing at an early age, and started working part time on his first full length novel in 2001. After greatly impressing award winning Glasgow author Louise Welsh while studying at the University of Glasgow ten years later, In the Devil’s Name, a modern twist on the legend of Ayrshire cannibal Sawney Beane, was published online, attracting worldwide attention, being read by thousands of horror fans all over the globe and earning rave reviews. Short stories Afterburn and Heaven Help You quickly followed, the latter being picked up by Wyrd Books Publishing as their online story of the month. Dave is currently working on his second novel; The Wolves of Langabhat, a tale of tenth century Norse settlers on the Isle of Lewis. With werewolves.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
I first started writing when I was a kid; just daft (but very graphic) little stories about barbarians chopping up orcs and monsters in the woods. I started my first novel in 2001, and worked on it very occasionally for the next eleven years or so while working in a series of call centres, bars and kitchens. I finally finished the book earlier this year after getting a lot of encouragement from people who read an first draft version online, and from Glasgow author Louise Welsh, the writer in residence at the University of Glasgow where I’m studying Music and Digital Media Information Systems.
Do you prefer the term
Got to go with Dark Fiction there. It just sounds cool. For some reason, the terms “horror” and “weird fiction” can sometimes sound a bit cartoonish and narrow viewed, whereas dark fiction I think gives an idea of a wider scope with more possibilities, if that makes any sense.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
I’ll get the obvious ones out the way first and say Stephen King, Dean Koontz and Richard Laymon. Other than those fine gentlemen, I really like Dan Simmons, Bentley Little, and a little known fellow Scot named Joe Donnelly, whose supernatural work really gave me a push to try my hand at writing. Outside of horror, (sorry, dark fiction!) I’m very into Wilbur Smith, David Gemmell, George RR Martin, Irvine Welsh and Robin Hobb. Could be here all day, so I’ll move on…
What are you reading now?
Fool’s Fate, the third book in the Tawny Man trilogy by Robin Hobb. Great stuff.
Probably the book that had the most profound effect on me was The Beach by Alex Garland. I first read that when I was working in a beach bar in Corsica in the summer of 1999, and it’s one of the few books I’ve managed to read in a single day. I stayed up till 4am to finish it. The ending (which for those of you who’ve only seen the rather lame, watered down movie version, is completely different) shook me up severely. I’d love to write something that affects people to that extent. Plus the money made from the film adaptation would be nice…
How would you describe your writing style?
Probably as affected with attention deficit disorder! Most of the time, I keep my chapters pretty short and jump around scenes and characters a lot.
Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?
A day’s writing begins with me getting up at 6.30am to take my wife to work and my son to nursery. After that I pretty much load myself up with a lot of coffee and nicotine and just go for it. In regards to unusual habits, instead of writing a full first draft and then editing it, I do my editing as I’m writing the first draft. Before I start a new chapter, I’ll edit and rewrite much of what I did the previous day. It takes longer to get the first draft done, but it drives me nuts if I try to just leave it alone. I’m an obsessive tinker-er.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Well, I’m relatively new to this whole writing game, so would have to say my first (and only complete!) novel In the Devil’s Name. It took me a long time to write, because for ages I was just doing it on odd occasions, going months or even years between writing chapters at some points. It was only when I started posting bits of it online and people started taking notice and telling me they liked it and wanted to read the whole thing that I got my finger out and actually got it finished, so yeah, I’m pretty proud I did manage to get the thing done because I wasn’t sure if I ever would. I’m just happy that it’s out there now, and that people are reading it and telling me they enjoyed it.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
In the Devil’s Name is a modern twist on the legend of the mythical Scottish cannibal and mass murderer Sawney Beane. It involves four best friends that have just left high school who get caught up in an unfulfilled hex laid hundreds of years before. It basically starts off as a sort of comedic coming of age type thing, with a lot of drugs and alcohol, and ends up being really dark, graphic and brutal. But funny at the same time. One person said it was like The Blair Witch Project mixed with Trainspotting, if you can dig that.
At the moment, I’m about two thirds of the way into my second novel, which at the moment is called The Wolves of Langabhat. It’s a story that skips back and forth between the tenth century and the modern day, and involves a group of friends on a weekend long stag party, a homicidal hillbilly, an ex rock star who’s not quite human, mysterious standing stones, Vikings and werewolves. It’s lots of fun. I’m hoping to have it done by the end of the year.