Name David McCaffrey

Age 40

Where are you from I was born in Middlesbrough, but raised in East Preston until I was 10 when we moved back to the North East

A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc

I’m one of seven children (4 brothers, 2 sisters). My Mum’s family are from Northumberland and my Dad’s from Ireland. I have a Kelly, a Jake and a Liam and we live in Redcar.

I work as an Infection Prevention and Control nurse in a local acute hospital where I have worked for 14 years. It was always my dream to become a published author, though I once considered being a Sheriff (my Mum wouldn’t let me).

Fiona: Tell us your latest news?

I was recently awarded Author of the Year by my publisher Britain’s Next Bestseller!!! One of the most amazing and proudest moments of my life.

Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?

I have always written stories and used to enter competitions as a child (I won a library competition in Billingham when I was 10 with a story about a witch who was afraid of heights and couldn’t use her broomstick). It feel by the wayside as I got older, but when my eldest son was born for some reason I felt compelled to write again and drafted up a few pages of a story. I received some good feedback from family members and wondered if I could actual write something that others would like to read. I became a member of The Writer’s Bureau where I learnt some really good writing tips and was fortunate enough to be taken on by Steve Alten as part of his writing coach programme which was the most amazing learning experience. He taught me so much about being a writer.

Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I received my first royalties payment! Though really you kind of feel you have made it when you first hold your published book in your hands and see it for really. You have imagined it for so long that when you are actually holding it, it doesn’t seem real.

Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?

Kung Fu Panda!! I found the basic idea that the most unlikely hero could overcome the most profound evil. Building on that, I was fascinated by what is it that draws us to unsociable, antisocial characters, especially the ones who are particularly despicable? So why are we drawn to these dislikeable characters?  Because we feel sorry for the events that lead them to become that way? Is it because we sometimes see aspects of ourselves in their character? It’s acknowledged that you cannot have good without evil, light without darkness. I think as lovers of books, we will always be drawn to the darker characters. After all, are they not the more interesting? We seek to find those moments where we can feel affinity with the shadier side of human nature because, as a contradiction, it also makes us feel safe. We know that evil is simply an excuse for unacceptable behaviour and that, if the surface of it is scratched, like a poorly rendered wall it will crumble away. That whole concept of evil and ultimately what constitutes justice intrigues me.

Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?

I like to write thrillers which are solid in their research. I think you risk losing the reader if they can’t taste, smell and feel the atmosphere you are trying to create. I will spend a long time doing the research first before I start writing. I will then create a beat sheet which is bullet points for each chapter so I can easily see where things are, how they are flowing, if the pacing needs work etc. When I’m ready to start writing I use the beat sheet as a guide. It’s like stacking dominos – if you have them all lined up in a row at the beginning, when you knock the first one over they should all fall over as planned. If they stop anywhere, you know that’s where your story needs work.

Fiona: How did you come up with the title?

My writing coach suggested it actually! I liked it though and it reminded me of the sequel to one of my favorite horror films from the 80’s – Hellraiser.

Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

That there is a fine line between justice and revenge. The antagonist in Hellbound is a thoroughly unpleasant character, but by the end you sympathise with him and readers have found themselves feeling guilty about it! A large factor in the plot is the death penalty which features at the beginning. I was careful not give my opinion about it, but rather present the facts and allow the reader to make up their own mind.

How much of the book is realistic?

I spent a long time researching the death penalty, the execution procedures and protocols, certain drugs used and the specifics of how the prisoner is prepared. I also used my own knowledge of Ireland alongside research into various parts of the country to inform my creation of the world I was trying to build.

Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

A few characters were inspired by people I know and I imbued the story with some personal elements, but the story itself is fictional. No one called Obadiah Stark exists…or does he!

Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? A mentor?

Books I would have to say authors such as John Grisham and Stephen Leather. I learnt a lot of crafting a good story from reading them. As far as mentors go, then it is Steve Alten all the way! He taught me so much about writing, editing, research, structure, plotting, characterisation that I will indebted to him for life. Everything good I know about writing I learnt from him. He is also one of my favourite authors which is how I came across his writing coach programme.

Fiona: What book are you reading now?

At the moment I’m reading a few; Chris Tetreault-Blay’s fantastic horror Acolyte and Anthony Summers ‘Not In Your Lifetime – the Assassination of JFK. Diametrically opposite, I know, but both fantastic!!

Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

I read Emma Slaughter’s ‘Lonely as A Cloud’ whilst in it’s preorder phase and thought it was fantastic; original, haunting and beautifully crafted. Karen Long is one of my favourite newly discovered authors who writes the most amazing and detailed crime novels and Rob Enright, whose debut novel ‘One by One’ had me gripped from the start. Truly excellent.

Fiona: What are your current projects?

I’m working on a third book (my second was a novella prequel to Hellbound titled In Extremis’) and have ideas for a few more. The current project isn’t a direct sequel to Hellbound but rather set in the same universe with one or two of the same characters…and maybe a few surprises!!!

Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Oooo, there are so many I would struggle to chose just one. I couldn’t have achieved what I have so far without the support of my wife Kelly, my publisher Britain’s Next Bestseller, Louise Hunter, Rebecca Sill but if I had to choose one person it would be Steve Alten as none of this would exist if not for him.

Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?

Absolutely! At the moment it isn’t a career I could live off, but hearing people have enjoyed something I have written is rewarding enough. I appreciate you have to be in it for the long game, but you never know…

Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

I would alter some of the dialogue as I felt in hindsight some of the conversations could have had more resonance. Maybe add a little more depth to elements of certain characters. Like any piece of work you have to just let it go or else you would keep editing and editing!

Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I have the current novel set in the Hellbound universe underway and have another completed beat sheet for a thriller concerning an infectious organism dating back to the days of Florence Nightingale!! It’s working title is ‘Pathogenicity’ but that could change. I also have another novella that will act as a sequel to the current book and a prequel to the next one titled ‘Nameless’.

Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

The only challenge is finding the time between work and children! Seriously though, if you loved something enough you make the time so I tend to do it when the children are in bed or in the middle of the night if I can’t sleep!

Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

I have to say Steve Alten!! His style of writing is so descriptive and detailed and yet easy to absorb. It is quite a talent. He has written many novels, but amongst my favourites are the Meg series about a 60 foot, prehistoric Great White Shark and political thriller The Shell Game. John Grisham is probably my other favourite author…no one does law thrillers like Grisham!

Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Not so far. Much of the detail about Ireland in Hellbound was from memory, friends and the Internet. I would love to be able to travel one day for my research, though I do visit the London National Library occasionally for research purposes. It’s amazing!

Fiona: Who designed the covers?

A few people. The covers for Hellbound and In Extremis were designed by a guy called A.J on the design website, whereas my next one has been designed by the amazing Silvya Yordanova. She does fantastic photorealistic work and it look amazing. There will be a big reveal soon!

Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Trying to make a serial killer a source of sympathy was the biggest challenge. You have to walk a very fine line and handle it delicately to not lose the reader. In order to achieve it, there were two lines he couldn’t cross; hurting children and sexually assaulting women. If I had travelled down that path, no mater how much he suffered, the reader would never feel sympathy for him.

Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

That you should write what you would love to read.

Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?

Research, research, research! If you don’t have the research to back up your story you will short change the reader. They have to believe every word you have written, the world you have created and the characters inhabiting it. Research makes all of that possible. And watch overly drawn out explanations for basic things, such as fear or horror. There is a time and place, but not when it’s a tense situation, you will lose the momentum and therefore the reader.

Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Thank you! I wouldn’t exist without you and you make all of his possible.

Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.

Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?

Laugh – my children. Cry – very little which is odd I know. I think I’m broken.

Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?

John F. Kennedy – I would like to talk about the state of the world and how he would have gone about repairing some of the damage we have done to it.

Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?

‘I’ve got this. Hold my beer.’ Sums me up I think.

Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?

Movies, reading, gaming, exercising. I’m more indoorsy than out!!

Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?

All the geeky stuff! Arrow, The flash, Gotham, Sleep Hollow, Doctor Who, The Blacklist, The Walking Dead, Supergirl, Supernatural, Person of Interest…can you see the pattern?



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