The seventh interview in my series is David G Pearce, author of 'The Girl on the Train' and 'The Vanishing' and has also had short stories in the KUF anthologies.
How do you strike the balance between writing something you want to write and writing something that people want to read, in terms of the compromises you make, if any?
To my mind there can’t be any balance, at least not for a new author such as me. If you’re trying to write a particular type of story for a particular type of audience you are almost bound to fail. I have written two books that I wanted to write because I was genuinely excited about the stories and characters. If I ever have an audience for those books I will be over the moon, but if I don’t I can look back on two books that I am proud of.
What excites, attracts or appeals to you about the genre(s) you write in.
YA is often ghettoised by adults as being a mainly supernatural genre. However, the joy of the genre is that it can cover absolutely anything from Twilight to The Look. It also has readers who can be the most demanding and astute. It is that audience that I would really love to reach one day. I really got interested in YA writing when my oldest daughter started to read books aimed at teens. As a teacher I had spent a lot of time with teens and so when I decided to write my first novel that was the natural genre.
Do you have a box, drawer, folder etc where you keep thoughts and ideas for future stories? Such as names you have come across, bits of dialogue, ideas, characters - even if you have no idea when you might use them?
I don’t have any container for future ideas apart from my own head! When I am writing one book I am totally engrossed in it and I won’t even think about the next one. If something comes up that I can use in the book I am writing I will remember it and put it down on paper. If not, I will store it at the back of my mind until it fits naturally into the book that I am writing.
How much of you is in your characters? Which of your characters is the you that you’d most like to be? Or be with ?
In The Girl on the Train, Paul Masters, Holly’s father, shares a number of traits with me, but in terms of his focus on work and his confidence that their move to England will work he is my polar opposite. The attitude that Holly has to England initially is my own reaction to moving back here in 2005 with its mixture of frustration, anger and a sense that your life will never be as good again. The Vanishing, with its lack of adult characters has no character with strong elements of myself, and in some senses that was liberating as I could really use my imagination. However, their reactions to certain situations probably mirror what mine might have been as a teenager in a Post-Apocalyptic world! I would probably have wanted to be with Holly in the first book and Casey in the second book. In a sense that is almost certainly why they became the main characters with the traits that I imbued them with.
Do you become so wrapped up in your writing that your spouse wonders if they're married to you or one of your characters?
Never! I compartmentalise my writing totally. Once it’s finished I concentrate on cooking dinner, cleaning the house, making packed lunches and occasionally lecturing, although that is increasingly a rare occurrence in the shrinking world of English Language Support at university! I would hate to live and breathe my books as I put enough pressure on myself as it is when I publish them on Kindle.
What type of book do you like reading? Is it the same genre as you write?
I enjoy reading to my youngest daughter at bedtime so I read mainly children’s books or YA books that are suitable in tone or language. When I read for myself, I don’t particularly stick to a genre. I will read books that interest me and I find myself going from the classics such as A Christmas Carol and Day of the Triffids to Cecilia Ahern who I absolutely love reading!
What lengths do you go to to convince us readers that your book has the X factor?
I have great difficulty in believing that anything I write has the X-Factor! Of course, since having the X-Factor means a quick success followed by complete obscurity that could be a good thing! Seriously though, I am fully convinced of the quality of my books until the moment I publish them. Once that happens, the lack of interest and sales dents my already fragile self-confidence. When I started I decided to face criticism with some equanimity and take it as part of the learning process, but recent events on one of the boards have proved that isn’t possible. Once I have been criticised, especially when the criticism is fairly blunt, I retreat from the thread to lick my wounds and don’t always have the courage to return to the offending discussion. I clearly have too thin a skin for a writer, but I have to continue because in a real sense it is who I am.
How do you feel when a reader points out the spelling mistake(s) you have made?
It hasn’t happened yet, even though I do my own proof reading, but that is probably due to my own background in English Language Support where I train myself to spot any error.
What do you like most about visiting KUF?
For the most part, it is the friendliness of nearly everyone in the group. However, the chance to have a go at short stories for the various anthologies is a real plus as I try to improve as a writer.
What is on your near horizon?
I have just started a sequel to The Vanishing called The Enemy Within. It takes place just after the end of the first book and covers events up to the first anniversary of the Vanishing itself. As well as that, I will be doing a short story for each of the two upcoming anthologies. I am looking forward to the End of the World anthology as I have a story in mind for it already, and because the theme was originally my idea!
Where can we find you for more information?
A not particularly up to date blog, mainly due to lack of interest. However, if anyone starts to read it I may visit and post more often!
My titles on Amazon.co.uk
An excellent blog set up by Lynda Wilcox. I have written a couple of blog posts for it in the last few months.