Thankfully he gave in!
How and when did you become a writer?
It may sound like a clichéd answer, one that you probably hear all the time, but I’ve always been a writer. It was something I always knew I wanted to do (that or a history teacher) and in fact I remember writing a short story when I was nine. It was about a martial arts competition, I think I still have it around here somewhere.
I’ve been a part-time freelance writer, contributing articles to some local and more established magazines, but I’ve always known fiction is what I was made for. My YA Fantasy novel, The Black Petal was my first novel and it is currently in the hands of an editor.
The Caseworker’s Memoirs actually came about rather by chance. In November 2012, I was rushed into hospital for an emergency operation. Whilst I was at home recuperating, off work and laid up on the sofa, I needed something to keep my mind going; a new project to get my nails into.
It started off as a collection of short stories, all with the theme of phobias. But Malcolm (the book’s main character) kept whispering to me whilst I was trying to sleep, and I finally gave in and included him into the book. He’s a grieving widower and since retiring and losing his wife, he is letting the world pass him by. Heartache and despair is eating him up, but his daughter gives him a leather-bound notebook to write some of his memories down. As dreams start to keep him up at night, he feels he has no choice but write down his experiences and start to try and move on with his life.
I think one of the unique points about the book, is how the perspective changes from chapter to chapter. When we are following Malcolm, we follow him as he writes in first person. But as the dreams are occurring, we are following the individuals of his former occupation in third person. I really hope it gives the book a tailored effect.
The ebook is out now and the paperback is in production, but may take a few weeks to be added to Amazon. It will be available to buy from all Amazon territories, and I’ve also been working hard to get the book into libraries here in England. So far, I’ve managed to get the book into some Lincolnshire libraries.
For UK Purchase click here
For US Purchase click here
Do you plan your novels? How do you prepare?
Yes, I always plan my novels. I know for some writers that takes away some of the creativity of the writing process, but I find if I don’t plan, I can wander off forever and never actually produce a coherent piece of work. I like to plan in detail sometimes, so for instance when I know there is a difficult chapter coming up, I plan the chapter out too; bullet points of the structure and such forth.
It can be an expensive habit, but I also produce my best writing when I’m out of the house, writing in my local café. I’m away from all distractions and can really concentrate on what I need to do. I also write by hand first. That is one of my frustrations, I must admit. But writing on paper first, and then typing up allows me to go through what I’ve written and edit out obvious mistakes straight away.
Do you self publish?
I do self publish, yes. I think it is really difficult at the moment to get into traditional publishing, and there are some really talented authors out there who are being rejected. Self-Publishing can provide that gift to authors like myself. My charity poetry book 'Life' is all but a vast array of Colours was self-published and actually garnered me some great publicity. The Caseworker’s Memoirs is self-published as an ebook by KDP, but the paperback will be published by Lulu.
There are a lot of people who turn their nose up at self-published authors, which is a real shame really. For full length novels, I really recommend any authors who are self-publishing to employ an editor to whip you into shape, ready for publication. If we produce high-quality, well edited pieces of work, then people can’t say self-publishing is some sort of unsavoury relative of traditional publishing.
What's next for Dan Thompson?
Well my YA Fantasy novel The Black Petal is well on its way to being fully edited and although I do support indie authors, I am going to try and get it published via a real publishing house. It is the first of a trilogy and I’ve got the second book completely planned out. Now I’ve finished The Caseworker’s Memoirs, I really need to get back into my fantasy world. The Black Petal follows two protagonists as they are pulled from their world into a land that faces war. It mixes Greek and Norse mythology, which are a real interest of mine.
But saying that, I am constantly bombarded with new ideas. The hard thing is sifting through the chunks to find the established, authentic stories and jotting them down. I’ve got a new idea for another YA novel that follows the life of a young shaman’s daughter, who must learn to juggle her responsibilities as well as fight shadow creatures that are mysteriously after her. It’s in its early stages so far, so we’ll see where that takes me.
What is the best thing about being a writer?
It has definitely got to be the freedom. I love how I can take my stories anywhere I see fit, kill characters, make characters fall in love … you name it, I can do it. One of my all-time favourite writers is Philip Pullman, and I remember reading an interview he did. He said that all writers should write for themselves and not conform themselves to a particular genre or audience, and I think that is fantastic advice. It really does give us the creative freedom to write what makes us happy. That surely has to be the best job in the world.
What do you get up to when you're not writing?
Apart from working (I work nights to pay the bills) I love reading and watching TV like most people. I love watching tennis, which probably isn’t the best thing as I can get quite rowdy shouting and screaming at the TV.
But I also blog too. From new books, book reviews, publishing news etc – I may not be writing my fiction, but by connecting with readers and writers alike helps urge you on.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out?
It is really easy for me to say write, write and write some more – that’s obvious. The more practice you get, the more you perfect your skill and voice. But also connection is vitally important. You need to build up writing relationships, whether it is by creating your own blog or by getting in touch with fellow writers. Social media is a fantastic medium to do this. Over the past year, I’ve built up friendships with many authors in the same situation as myself, and some that have gone on to be successful. These connections are invaluable – there is always one who is willing to offer you advice when you need it, cheer you when you are feeling a little down and by working together, it really does welcome you into one of the most friendly and warming communities around. It is a bit of give and take really, you help them – they help you. It can sound cheesy, but it is almost like a new family of sorts. It is a competitive field to break into, but the writing community is so supportive. Come and join us – we won’t bite … much :)
Visit Dan here. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
You can also become a fan on Goodreads. let's face it, he's hard to resist!