Hello and welcome to my blog, Author Interviews. My name is Fiona Mcvie.
Let’s get you introduced to everyone, shall we? Tell us your name. What is your age?
Darren Dash. I’m 45.
Fiona: Where are you from?
Ireland, but I was norn in London and lived there as a child, so I have a Cockney accent.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news.
I released my latest book, An Other Place, in December 2016. I’m currently working on editing my next, which will hopefully see print towards the middle of 2018. All three books that I’ve published have been very different – the first, The Evil And The Pure, was a dark, contemporary thriller set in London. The second, Sunburn, was an over-the-top horror story set in the forested hills of Bulgaria. The third, An Other Place, was a twisted, mind-bending sci-fi outing, set in a city unlike any other that a reader will have experienced before. The fourth is going to be a light-hearted spin on A Midusmmer’s Dream, Smiles Of A Summer Night, and A Midsummer Night’s Sex Comedy!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I wanted to be a writer since I was 5 or 6 years of age – I just always loved telling stories. I began to seriously chase the dream in my early teens.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Every step you take as a writer is important, the failures matter just as much as the successes, so I considered myself a writer even in the very early days, when I was writing terrible short stories, or starting and failing to finish ambitious novels. But completing my first draft of my first novel at the age of 17 was a major step forward. I knew it wasn’t very good as it stood, but I had proved to myself that I could finish a larger scale project, and that’s when I began to really commit myself to my craft.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I plucked ideas from all over the place, as I do with all my books, taking them from stories I’d read, films and TV show’s I’d seen, things I’d experienced in real life.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Titles can sometimes be very tricky beasts, and it’s only at the very end of the writing process – after all the writing and editing, when the book is due to go to print – that I settle on a name for a book. Other times they comes ridiculously easily, and are the first thing that I think of when I’m putting my ideas together.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style? Is there anything about your style or genre that you find particularly challenging?
I write most of my books in the first person, and often in the present tense. I like the immediacy of that style, the way it allows readers to form an instant bond with the main character. It has its drawbacks, as all styles do, and I like to experiement and try different ways with different books, but that’s my default position. Ultimately it’s about doing what feels right for the story, and going with your gut instinct.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I always draw in real-life experiences, and very often my books are about my day to day life, but usually I present my stories in a completely fantastical way – I like to use horror and sci-fi and fantasy to get my readers to look at this world and their lives from a different perspective. The only one of my novels which is highly realistic is The Evil And The Pure, a crime thriller which is set in contemporary London and features no otherworldly elements.
Fiona: To craft your works, do you have to travel? Before or during the process?
I’ve been lucky. I’ve got to travel all over the world, and I do sometimes bring thoughts, ideas and inspirations back from those travels and incorporate them into my stories. But more often than not my ideas come to me when I’m in my familiar home environment. I think the most important thing for a writer is to be open to ideas and looking for them everywhere. If you have an inquisitive mind, you’ll find a neverending supply of stories on your back doorstep. If you have a dull mind, all the travel in the world won’t show you the way.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’ve published three novels. Two of them (The Evil And The Pure and An Other Place feature artwork drawn by an old friend of mine called Stephen Toomey and were designed by another old friend, Liam Fitzgerald, who runs a design agency called Frequency — https://www.frequency.ie/Liam also supplied the image for the other on, Sunbun.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
It’s a dark, dangerous world, full of pitfalls and forces working in opposition to us, but if we stand true and fight the good fight, and have respect for and cooperate with our fellow human beings, good can win out in the end.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Who is your favorite writer, and what is it about their work that really strikes you?
Well, he’s by no means a new author, but I’ve only recently discovered the words of Robert McCammon, and I’m loving them a lot. Stephen King is my favourite writer, both for the quality of his work and his incredible work ethic. I think he’s the perfect role model for writers who are just starting out.
Fiona: Outside of family members, name one entity that supported your commitment to become a published author.
My agent, Christopher Little, has been incredibly supportive for more than twenty years. He doesn’t represent my Darren Dash books, as I wanted complete control over those, and the freedom to flit around between genres and not be tied to a publishing-friendly formula, but he’s still my agent on the Darren Shan front. (That’s the other, more better known name that I use for my YA books.)
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
For most of us, no. I’ve been unusually lucky in that I’ve got to experience the extremes from both sides. On the adult, Darren Dash front, I’m a struggling, self-published author, who has to work hard to keep my small number of sales ticking over. If I was relying on sales from my Dash books, I wouldn’t be able to afford to write full time. But on the YA, Darren Shan front, my books have sold around 25 million copies worldwide, so I’ve got to live the dream. Ultimately you should write because you love writing. If your stories take off and enjoy huge commercial success, that’s a bonus, but the quality of the work should always be your primary concern.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Nope. I spend at least 2 or 3 years working on each book (some of my Dash books stretch back over 10 years or more) and don’t release it until I’m 100% happy with it.
Fiona: Did you learn anything during the writing of your recent book?
I’m always learning – the writer who thinks they know everything is a writer who’s come to the end of his or her tether. I’ve been doing this full-time for twenty-two years now, and part-time for a decade before that, and I’m still figuring things out.
Fiona: If your book was made into a film, who would you like to play the lead?
Heh – one of my YA books was made into into a film (Cirque Du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant) and even though it wasn’t a huge success, it featured a dreamy cast – John C Reilly, Selma Hayek, Willem Dafoe, Ken Watanbe and more. I never think much about the possibility of future film adaptations or who might play the characters – I leave those headaches to the adapters.
Fiona: Any advice for other writers?
Keep on writing. The more you write, the more you learn, the better you get. It’s as simple and as difficult as that.
Fiona: Anything specific you want to tell your readers?
I’m going to keep on coming up with weird, quirky, different books, and I doubt that every book will appeal to any single one of my fans, so feel free to dip in and out of my work as you please.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Swan Song by Robert McCammon.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
One of the first that I remember was The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett, though I’d read plenty of others by that stage.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
The life of a writer!
Fiona: Is there one person, past or present, you would love to meet? Why?
Stephen King, to tell him how much I’ve loved his books and how much his work has meant to me. (I was actually in the same room of him after an event of his once, but was too nervous to go up and say hello.)
Fiona: Do you have any hobbies?
Reading (doh!), watching films and TV shows, travel, going to the theatre, collecting art (comic art, modern stuff, sculpture), football (soccer).
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Far too many to mention, as I’ll be here for hours if I start.
Fiona: Favorite foods, colors, music?
Sweet and Sour Chinese, pizza, fish and chips are some of my faves, but I’ll give just about anything a go. As for music, I’m big into rock and pop, especially 1980s groups like The Smiths, REM, Pixies, Go –Betweens. Jesus And Mary Chain, etc.
Fiona: Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?
I think I’ll always write. I can’t imagine my life where I’m not tinkering with ideas for stories.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone?
“He came, He saw, He wrote.”
Fiona: Do you have a blog or website readers can visit for updates, events and special offers?
Amazon authors pages