‘A real villain is always preferable to a fake hero.’ ~Tom Robbins
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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?
In High School,I was given an English Assignment with one rule—it had to be 2000 words. Inspired by fantasy novels, I decided to type out a story. Although I could only type with two fingers, once I started I couldn’t stop. One hundred double-sidedA4 sheets later, I’d bashed out my first novel, The Blue Unicorn. It dripped with clichés and correction fluid, but there were some cool ideas, and I drew a map of the book’s world. I knew then story-building was my thing.
Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?
Many, but the main ones are Tom Robbins for his wit and thought-provoking perspectives, and Stephen King for his techniques. The unique first-person narratives by Mark Haddon and Christopher Wilson also inspire me to write with more character.
Tell me about your series.
When ex-con Andre Cross encounters the intriguing android Mo Da, he discovers the implant auto-medicating him to subdue his violent impulses also subdues his ability to love.
Set in 2040, in the vertical city of Brulle, ex-con Andre Cross is doing his best to be a good citizen.It’s been a year since he left prison early accepting an implant that sedates him before violent thoughts turn into actions. He has a plan to leave the city and his dark past behind. But when he meets the seemingly self-aware android Mo Da, she stirs something inside him that he can’t fathom or control, and his violent past creeps back to finish what it started.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I’ve published one novel and two short stories (set in the same city as Amanojaku and part of my Splintered Horizon world), and a sci-fi anthology. I have rough drafts of the next two books in the Splintered Horizon series. Right now, I’m working on a completely new sci-fi drama called Dismantling Henry.
What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?
Banning something seems counter-intuitive, as it labels something dangerous, attracting the people it’s mostly banned from.
Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?
Readers have told me they’re fascinated with the female android Mo Da fromAmanojaku, and theywant to know more about her. I think it’s the mystery of what is not revealed about her that is most attractive. She will definitely get her own novel.
Indie, or traditionally published – and why?
So far, I’ve self-published because I love the DIY challenge. Traditional daunted me, but now that I’ve had some writing experience, and feel more confident, I plan to approach publishers with my next book. They can only say no.
It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?
My writing definitely benefits from reading. Amanojaku would be a lot less layered and more pulp-fiction if I wasn’t reading at that time. (I can’t actually read anymore without taking notes on vocabulary, technique, sentence structure, etc. I don’t read unless I have something to capture those notes.)
Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.
The best part of being an author is when someone talks to me about a character or scene I’ve written as if my writing made them feel or question something. The worst aspect is not having enough time to write and losing life-balance. I’ve burnt out a couple of times.
Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?
I use both techniques, jumping between the two. It’s like riding a horse and letting it go inits own direction once in a while so I see new landscapes that inspire my original direction.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Hmmm, notintentionally. Now I’m tempted to.
Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.
I love creating artwork and building interactive content on my website so readers can further explore the worlds of my books.
What are you writing at the moment?
I’m working on my second novel, Dismantling Henry, which follows an out-of-work actor struggling to stay relevant in a future where actors are being replaced by technology.In the sea-side city of Promessa, the entertainment-hungry public wear augmented reality lenses which distract them from real life. Addicted to the constant stream of entertainment, they see more of what they want to see and less of what they don’t.Henry takes a desperate chance to avoid becoming as invisible as the refugees flooding in from sinking islands. His sense of self blurs with the fictitious character he once played, and he soon finds he must fight to regain his identity. If only he could be sure which one was the real him, because the fate of both citizen and refugee alike may depend on it.
What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?
Some are, unfortunately. Anyone with no experience can write and self-publish.But many self-published books have been written and edited well. The best way to assess a self-published book’s quality is to check the sample, look to see if an editor is credited on the copyright page, and read the sample pages to experience the quality.
What is your favourite genre to write, and why?
Drama, whether sci-fi or mystery, with a thread of mystical or supernatural. I’m also enjoying recent attempts at comedy.
If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?
No way! The futures I’ve created so far are messed up.
If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Read, study, write, and believe in yourself.
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?
Sometimes, but I don’t need to. There’s a massive tree outside my window that sways like the ocean in a swell, and the white noise it generates is perfect for escaping into writing.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Writing can be as grueling as it is rewarding. After a while, my stories start to write themselves, and they drag me along by the hair through many late nights until they’re done.
Tell me three unique things about you.
That is a lovely question to end an interview with, as I’ve never asked myself that. Let me see.
1) I suffer severe insomnia, but if I lay on the couch to watch a movie I’ll pass out in ten minutes
2) Most of my emails are to and from myself, as I email ideas all day, every day
3) Apparently, I’m very good at deflecting, but that’s just what my friends say
Damien, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!