I was re-reading some of my favorite Philip K. Dick stories, and I wanted to write something that captured that sense of unease, that feeling where you are not sure if the main character has just discovered something crazy, or is going crazy. I have always been interested in genetically modified food, and the fears surrounding it. A lot of the fears are tap into something very close to home – the food we put in our bodies every day.
2 If you could write in only one genre, what would that be and why?
One of the reasons why I self-published is so that I wouldn’t be restricted to one genre. “Transfection” is straight up old-school science fiction. “If You Go Into The Woods” is more literary, but the old label of “weird fiction” would be more accurate. But if I had to pick one, I would say historical fiction, because I love the challenge of recreating on old world and weaving an historical narrative through a fictional story (and because I have four novels planned out). But you’re not going to make me pick one, are you? That would be cruel.
3 Being a writer has a certain mysterious stigma attached to it. We’re often seen as reclusive, introverts who’d rather be hunched over a typewriter than being social. Do you fit that stereotype?
You can be mysterious and social. Having a moustache helps. No-one ever really knows what you are thinking.
Writing is a very solitary pursuit, but I have never been one for hiding away. The novel I’m releasing at the end of the summer was written while I was travelling around the world. Mostly in bars and cafes. I like to have noise in the background while I am working. Silence kills me.
I spent a summer writing in this Czech bar. All the old regulars used to give me funny looks. I would be scribbling away each day, sipping a beer, with piles of books and notes on the table. At the end of the summer I got talking to them. I wondered what they thought I was up to. They thought I was doing my taxes.
4 What indie-author pitfalls have trapped you? Which have you avoided?
Getting glued to your sales reports. Is there a more pointless activity? I’ve broken that now, but I think most people go through that at the start. I nabbed a pro book cover designer for free (my sister), and a reasonably priced pro editor right from the start, so I skipped those pitfalls. From the beginning, I wanted to put out work that looked as good as anything coming from New York. That was very important to me.
5 What inspires you to continue on as a writer?
Do we have a choice? I think I would go crazy if I couldn’t write. Nothing satisfies me like writing. I think it’s an outlet for the madness inside all of us. On top of that, you get to do things you can’t (or shouldn’t) do in real life. That’s fun. But I think it’s like a calling. I have this deep need to get these stories out on the page, and get them out into the world. I can’t explain it, or control it. It controls me.
6 Tell us something about yourself you wouldn’t include in your author’s
I don’t like cheese. In fact, I’m afraid of cheese. I’m not crazy about eggs either, but I’ll eat them if I’m starving to death. Cheese? I would rather die. The thought of it gives me goosebumps.
7 From your point of view, where is indie publishing heading? Will it overtake
I think with every increase in e-book market share, more and more writers will self- publish at least some of their work. However, I don’t think traditional publishing will disappear. Some companies will adapt, others will go to the wall. I think that some smaller presses are very well positioned to take advantage of the digital future, but some of the larger companies are way behind the curve. I think if we are talking about the Big 6, maybe half those guys will either be out of business, or unrecognizable, within 5 years.
8 What aspect of being an indie author is most challenging to you?
The daily battle with obscurity. It’s tough to get your name out there. There are a million books in the Kindle Store. There are several million more print books. There are a trillion webpages. On top of that, movies, TV, and music, will always be better at the glitzy stuff. Books just aren’t as visceral. The advantage we have is that we can keep people’s attention better than any of those things. It’s getting it in the first place that’s the tough part.
On top of that? Finding a balance between promo and writing. Writing must always come first, but promo can gobble up your time if you aren’t disciplined.
9 If someone came up to you and said “I want to be an indie author!” What advice would you immediately give them?
The biggest mistake self-publishers make is putting their work out there before it is ready. Make sure to have some kind of objective critique of your work. That can be beta readers, a writing group, an online forum, whatever. Just make sure you listen to the advice you get, and only publish before you are ready.
Aside from that, make sure you present your work in the most professional manner possible. There are no shortcuts in writing or publishing. Success only comes to a few, and it only picks from those who are professional and work hard. Make sure you have professional covers, editing, and formatting.
Spend time on the blurb. Make sure the sample looks good and is enticing. Don’t spend money on anything other than covers and editing (and formatting if you really can’t learn it yourself). Everything else is a waste. Everything else you can do for free.
10 What makes David Gaughran different than all of the other writers out there? Sell yourself. Go.
Despite my bulk, I am surprisingly nimble. I have all my own teeth, bar those I lost in love and war. I’m taller than I look, but shorter than I think. I have the perversions of an older man, but the wisdom of a younger one. My moustache is a different color to the rest of my hair.
Read more from and about David on his blog. Purchase Dave’s books here: