What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is David M Brown and I was born in Barnsley, a former mining town in South Yorkshire, England. I now live in Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, with my wife, Donna, and our six cats – Kain, Razz, Buggles, Charlie, Bilbo and Frodo.
(I was born in Hull, East Yorkshire, and now live in West Yorkshire! A small world lol!)
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I always enjoyed creative writing at school and tried many times to pen a novel but never made it past the first 100 pages. At college I began writing with enough commitment and drive to complete a book and I have been writing ever since. I’ve considered numerous alternative careers but always seem to come back to writing.
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
When I finished my first book. It was called The Anglo-Asininity Chronicle and I completed it in the summer of 2004. It’s obsolete now but it was still an achievement for me. Prior to that I had wondered whether I could see a book through to the end. That same year I completed two more novels. That first book was a huge hurdle but once cleared I had the confidence to go on.
The first book I published was Fezariu’s Epiphany in May 2011. My wife had been a big support to me and after finishing that book we discussed how best to proceed – traditional publishing or self-publishing. We opted for the latter so the process of editing, formatting and publishing took a few months. I’d first started writing in 1999 so that first published book was a long time coming.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
Yes, I usually work as an admin assistant in an office somewhere but at the moment I am working part-time from home as an Internet Assessor. My wife works full-time, giving me the chance to focus on my writing. For this I am extremely grateful and to thank her I have taken sole charge of all household chores, including the ironing.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My most recent book is Man vs Cat which I published in December 2012. To summarise: Man vs Cat is about the many trials of being owned by six cats through fictional and factual anecdotes.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
I have self published all four of my books.
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I suppose it depends what I am writing. Stories about my six cats don’t take long to put together. Both my fantasy novels – Fezariu’s Epiphany and A World Apart - were from ideas I’d been working through in my mind for a few years. When I started the actual writing though, I usually finish a novel in less than a year.
Which of your books were easier/harder to write than the others?
Man vs Cat was the easiest book I have written. I often pen articles about our six cats as soon as they do something crazy and the words often flow seamlessly. The hardest book I have had to write is probably the one I’m working on at the moment – Ansel’s Remorse. This is the third book from the Elencheran Chronicles series. While Fezariu’s Epiphany and A World Apart came together quite easily, Ansel’s Remorse has proved far more challenging. I’m still not sure why.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Ansel’s Remorse will be my next book from the Elencheran Chronicles. The fourth book from that series will be The Stars Beneath the Parapets. I’m also working on some more cat books – Charlie’s Bleaklisted Books, which is about one cat blacklisting famous works of literature. I also plan to publish the best entries from the Diary of Mr Kain, a blog written by one our cats which chronicles his everyday life living with me and my wife.
What genre would you place your books into?
The Elenchera novels are fantasy though I’m trying to do something different with the genre to make it more accessible to readers that wouldn’t normally be interested in this type of book. The books about our cats would fall under non-fiction/humour. They’re intended as comical reads rather than personal accounts that would bring a tear to the eye.
Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
My favourite book so far is A World Apart. I felt I took more risks with that book compared to Fezariu’s Epiphany. Everything was on a much bigger scale. It was a long book too (800+ pages) but I was delighted with how the story turned out and some of the feedback I have had has been heart warming to say the least.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
One of my favourites is Vintaro from Fezariu’s Epiphany. In essence, that novel is a serious one but Vintaro brings some light relief to the story. What I liked about him was that although he seems to always be joking, he could be serious and indeed proves this towards the end. He was a fun character to write.
If you had to choose to be one of your characters in your book/books which would you be? and why?
I’d probably be an innkeeper or something. My characters tend to go through some very horrible experiences but those innkeepers seem to do okay. They just collect money from my characters, serve them a drink or two and that’s it. I’m too much of a coward to endure what my characters do. They must really hate me.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
Ideas come to me from so many sources. History is a big part of my life. It was always my favourite subject at school and I continue to read history books to this day. World history in general was integral to my building the world of Elenchera which took me a decade and is made up of 47,000 years of history and 500+ maps. I can find ideas from films, books even music. The Stars Beneath the Parapets came to me because of three songs: The Decemberists’ On The Bus Mall, Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound of Silence and David Bowie’s Lady Stardust. Each song helped shape a different part of that novel in my mind.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I usually listen to music when I’m writing. It’s strange to say but trying to write in silence is too distracting. You never know what sort of noises might disturb you especially with six cats running around. I love to listen to the soundtracks from the RPG series, Final Fantasy. The music is so beautiful and soothing. My favourite seat is a rocking chair I inherited from my late grandfather more than a decade ago. It brings back many fond memories of him and has supported me well whenever I’m in a creative frame of mind.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them? ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
My wife is my first reader and main critic. When we first met and she read my work she was never afraid to tell me if something was badly written. Before her, friends and family had always said my writing was brilliant and there were no issues. I never believed them. Donna often hands me pages back covered in red pen. It’s not always easy getting criticism but I value her opinion greatly and her honesty.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
Never. The reality of being an author is that some people will like your books and others will hate them. That’s life and authors need to accept that. Search for any famous novel on Amazon and you will see it has a variety of ratings. Some people love the classics while others despise them. We’re all different. James Joyce’s Ulysses is regarded as a masterpiece but I hated that book and still do today. The main thing I want from a review is honest feedback. The rating isn’t important. If a reader doesn’t like a book I’ve written I am interested to know what didn’t work for them. This isn’t so I can counter and argue with them, it is so I can address my writing and aim to improve it with the next book. I believe writers constantly evolve with their work and get better with age.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
Titles tend to come to me either before I’ve started the book or certainly within the first few chapters. I like the book to have an identity as I’m writing it. I don’t feel at ease saying the WIP is “Untitled.”
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
Character names are a combination of invented titles and names I pluck from history. I try to find a good balance with names and haven’t always got this right. Some readers have come back to me saying that they struggle with some pronouncing the names of my characters. This isn’t what I want for my readers so I do try to have a good influx of familiar names too. In terms of locations I also invent many of these but I did create hundreds of towns and villages in Elenchera simply by flicking through a phonebook and reading street names. On other occasions I might take words from different street names and mix and match them until I find a combination I like.
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I name the characters and the places before I come to know anything about them. It’s the same philosophy I have with a book a title I suppose. Certainly with the characters you can imagine them as a newborn baby, one you only come to know in the early years of their life but a name is one of the first things you learn. Once I’ve given a character a name I can start to visualise them and they slowly unravel before my eyes and tell me who they are and what motivates them.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
The characters write themselves to be honest. I have an idea of the novel’s plot and what will happen to the characters but I often find they take me on alternative paths to what I may have expected. I assume a character will do one thing, make this choice, say that response, but they surprise me and come up with something completely different. Those are the best moments when you’re that immersed in your world that the characters write the story for you.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I plan the main events of a story before I begin writing. I think of these as checkpoints dotted along a road or path. When I get to each checkpoint I know what will happen but between those points I have no idea how the characters will get from one key moment to another.
What do you do to unwind and relax? Do you have a hobby?
I enjoy reading in my spare time, listening to music and watching films as well. If I have the luxury of one of those treats each day then that will be enough to help me relax. When I have more time I love a long walk in the countryside, far from the pandemonium of the city.
Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
I’m not clever enough to have hidden messages in my books but I suppose some people could read them and pick out valuable lessons on life. Fezariu’s Epiphany deals with the relationship between a mother and her son and a sacrifice she has to make to save him. Fezariu’s childhood is a damaging one to him and he comes to believe many things that are not true. A World Apart is about the importance of friendship but also about having the courage to say how we feel about others. This is true of Demetrius who loses his childhood friend Eleyna to Halcyon because he cannot be honest and say that he loves her. Ansel’s Remorse also deals in friendship and love. I like to explore the impacts of the decisions we make in our lives, whether they’re the right ones or not.
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
J.R.R. Tolkien influenced my passion for fantasy and world building without question. Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams showed me that you can break the boundaries of a genre and take it in a new direction. In terms of writing style, I am most inspired by Ernest Hemingway and Haruki Murakami. Both write in a simple style but they deliver utterly beautiful prose, especially Murakami. I try to write in a simple way too, giving the reader enough information to follow the story but not overwhelming them with the world building behind Elenchera.
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook, hardback, or paperback?
I have become fond of ebooks and have really adapted to my Kindle. However, I still don’t think you can beat the pleasure of a good paperback. Ebooks are great but there’s something satisfying about holding a book, turning those pages yourself, knowing how far you are from the end, all of that and more.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
My favourite book is Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. I’ve read it about three times now and on each read I discover something new. This was my first taste of Murakami and I fell in love with the story and the characters. It’s a moving story in many ways and ironically it’s far removed from the sort of books Murakami usually writes. I’ve read many of his books since Norwegian Wood but none have surpassed it.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
Books can transfer well to films though it’s a shame that more often than not the adaptation turns out poor. Norwegian Wood is my favourite book but the film adaptation was average at best. A wasted opportunity for me. It’s a strange example but my favourite is Blade Runner which was adapted from Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? This was a rare occasion where I thought the book was good but the film was simply phenomenal and remains my favourite to this day. One of the worst adaptations for me was The Time Traveller’s Wife. The book is a masterpiece but the film completely lost its way. It was such a shame.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I’m reading Fairy Tales by Hans Christian Andersen in paperback, listening to White Teeth by Zadie Smith on audiobook and about to start Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Complete Sherlock Holmes on ebook. I’m enjoying Fairy Tales but White Teeth isn’t turning out to be as good as I expected it would be.
(I attempted White Teeth by Zadie Smith, and sadly just couldn't get along with the book at all)
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
I don’t think so. Ebooks are here to stay but printed books have endured for such a long time and I don’t that will ever change. Technology keeps changing so ebooks have to change with that whereas books found their best formula a long time ago.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I remember reading was greatly encouraged at school and we wrote stories in primary and secondary school. It saddened me that prior to JK Rowling bursting on the scene with Harry Potter, books seemed to be something that were deemed uncool in schools. I think things are a little different today but with mobile phones and the plethora of games consoles, many kids prefer those as forms of entertainment. I personally like to keep a balance. I enjoyed creative writing immensely at school but I think many people just saw it as more schoolwork.
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
Not really. I used to love horror as a teenager but as I’ve grown up I’ve started to branch out into other genres both in fiction and non-fiction. I can’t stick to one genre for long. I prefer to keep my reading varied to avoid any monotony setting it.
Is there anything in your book/books you would change now if you could and what would it be?
I don’t think I’d go back and read my novels now because I would definitely find things to change. I think writers keep improving the more they write so I’d rather leave my books as they are, as chronicles of where I was with my ability at a particular point. I’m hopeful that with each book I write I will get better. I don’t believe in reaching a certain level and settling for that. I want to keep getting better.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
I would advise them to start a blog if they haven’t done so already. Blogs are a great way to keep your writing fresh and you can write about anything you like so inspiration shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Blogs are also a great way to network with other writers and especially with book bloggers who are vital to an indie author’s success. Treat them with the respect they deserve and they will thank you for it.
Where can readers follow you?
Your blog details?
Your blog details?
Your website ?
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Your Goodreads author page?
Your Twitter details?
And any other information you wish to supply?
Amazon Author Page