Today in the Library we have David J Robertson, who has dropped in to say hello and to share some insights into his life as an author. So pull up a chair and join the conversation …
You are very welcome, David, please introduce yourself.
Hi, I’m Dave Robertson, a … year old, (sorry the number lock seems to be broken!), bloke from the Black Country. I was an engineering designer until the heart attack, so I retired early to follow what my heart desires (sorry – bad pun!) I decided to write – properly – not just for fun as I had done for years. That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy it – I do, I love it. So, what do I write?
Well, I’ve done quite a bit of flash fiction and there’s a children’s book in the pipeline – about my dog Misty. So keep your eyes peeled for that. A second Misty book is floating about. (Which was actually the first until things got complicated – don’t ask!) There are even the faint scribbling’s of a third – I must really have got the bug.
And of course there’s the novel. Haven’t we all got one somewhere? It unfortunately needs attacking drastically with the red editing pen. It’s a humorous (allegedly) science fiction/fantasy adventure. I only started it in 2006 so it must be nearly finished by now.
Did you read much as a child? Are you an avid reader now? Do you prefer books in your own genre or are you happy to explore others?
My first reading memory is The Secret Seven series by Enid Blyton, progressing to Biggles and literally anything literal that I could get hold of.
Life unfortunately gets in the way of reading – until recently reading was relegated to a holiday activity (I have been known to take 14 books on a 14 day holiday – and not thin tomes either!)
I will read anything that interests me, fact, fiction, autobiography.
Are you self-published or traditionally published?
My first children’s book ‘DOGNAPPED!’ will be self-published by Matador on 28th April 2016.
Which genre do you write in and why?
Children’s 6 – 10. A long planned sci-fi/fantasy novel. I write short stories and flash fiction. A lot of what I write could be described as humorous (I hope) but is not restricted to that genre.
Who has been the biggest influence on your writing?
Whoever’s book I was reading when I thought: ‘This is shite, I could do better than that!’ It really was that bad and is only memorable by the fact that I have no idea what it was called or who wrote it.
Has your country of origin/culture influenced your writing?
Only in the sense of ‘you write what you know’ and I am familiar with the Black Country, the canals, the accent – you really should read my flash fiction piece, ‘Th’auld pol on th’cut.’ (My old friend on the canal) – it is on the website at www.mistybooks.net
However, I recently wrote 2 pieces of flash fiction in a Texan dialect (well southern American anyway – in case some pedantic soul argues that it sounds more like a voice from a little known region of eastern Arkansas!) purely because I was holidaying there at the time, (yes, sadly I do also write on holiday) so perhaps it is fairer to say that I am influenced by my surroundings.
What part of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you overcome it?
The editing – I hate it. It’s not something that can be overcome in my experience. It has to be done and done properly. Anything above draft three is a particular balls ache! I usually take at least seven!
Do you have a favourite time of day to write?
No. I don’t set aside a time, day or week for that matter. I write when in the mood which means that my inane scribbling’s can be weeks apart. But once I do start I rarely stop until the piece is finished. It’s in me – it has to come out. You can’t beat paraphrasing John Lee Hooker.
What is the best thing about being an author? And the flipside – what is the worst?
The best – Writing something that you think – ‘Yes! That’s exactly the point, experience, emotion that I was trying to convey!’
The worst – It happens a lot, when someone says ‘Oh you could have the hero/heroine/villain/someone who is not even in the story, do this/do that/do the bloody other. And why didn’t you name one of the characters after me?’
Is social media an essential chore or something you enjoy? Which forum do you prefer?
I’m on Facebook, but that’s a relatively new thing. I find it strangely addictive, but I guess in time the novelty will wear off.
I also have a Twitter account – what’s that about!?
If you weren’t an author, what would you be up to?
I recently retired early to do the writing thing properly, so I would still be an engineering designer.
It’s the last day and the earth is facing oblivion – what book would you read?
Catch 22 – again! Brilliant – but Joseph Heller’s second book was crap (in my opinion).
Please tell us what you are working on or your latest published work.
My first children’s book ‘DOGNAPPED!’ will be self-published by Matador on 28th April 2016. (ISBN 9781785891441), price £8.99. Distributor: Orca Book Services 01235 465521 email firstname.lastname@example.org
I shall be adding a shopping page to my website shortly so that it can be purchased direct. Above is the provisional book cover – thanks to Ian R Ward for the wonderful pictures www.ianrward.co.uk