Interview with Author, Dave Farmer

davefarmerI’m thrilled to welcome Dave back to my blog for a third time. Some of you will remember his guest storyteller appearance back in June of last year, when he teased us with an extract from his speculative “what if” novel, The Range, which he went on to publish in November. For those of you who missed the publication day post, here’s the blurb.

News breaks of a deadly virus in Asia but, despite fatalities, few people take it seriously. Sheltered within the university bubble, Samantha and Louise are convinced the UK is invulnerable to this virus, until gruesome events unfold around the world and the death toll rises from hundreds to millions. By the time the virus reaches England and students on campus start falling sick, Samantha has to weigh up the risks of travelling home to London. She decides to sit tight with Louise and wait for everything to blow over. But the situation further deteriorates in ways the two friends couldn’t have envisaged. Their student flat is no fortress and there’s only one place they’ll be safe: The Range.

I found the novel both gripping and thought-provoking. Dave has a fantastic imagination and I wish him every success with his intended “Bloodwalker Legacy” trilogy, of which The Range is Book 1.

And now a few questions for the great man himself…

SP: When and why did you start writing novels, and is The Range your first or the first one that you decided to publish?

DF: Writing novels stems from the ever growing word count of short stories, which evolved into novellas, though it took many years of learning the craft of writing to build up a toolbox of skills to enable me to put together a full novel. The Range is the first novel I decided to publish, and I consider previous attempts as a learning curve.

SP: Why did you decide to self-publish straight off, rather than test out the traditional route?

DF: Like other writers, I’ve watched the publishing world change, and the advent of the internet and ebooks has shifted the control aspect of publishing from traditional publishing houses to the writers themselves. I thought long and hard about which route to take, and the appeal of managing my writing via self-publishing was too hard to resist as it puts me in control.

SP: During my reading of The Range, I loved the characters, settings, plot and dialogue, but on the editorial and proofreading front it still needed attention, now sorted in the newly uploaded version [Please note, fellow bloggers, the fact that Dave and I are still friends is a testimony to his good nature and willingness to take constructive criticism]. Over to you, Dave, for your comment on the editorial side of things.

DF: In my opinion a good writer will take well-reasoned constructive criticism as a positive, and not view it as an attack on their ability. I believed I had edited out all the errors and typos so it was annoying to have someone point out those I had missed. Yet at the same time I welcomed them because it helped improve the reading experience for the next reader. My advice to anyone planning to self-publish is to request feedback from a variety of beta readers (if you can’t afford a professional editor) because someone will always spot a hidden error others have missed. A big thank you to Sarah for being that someone, and as infuriating as it is to have those errors pointed out, I am indeed very grateful.

SP: Your main protagonist in The Range is Samantha, from whose first-person point of view you write. As a female reader, I found your portrayal of someone of my gender extremely authentic and believable. Why did you choose this viewpoint and how difficult did you find it getting inside the head of someone of the opposite sex?

DF: An early draft of The Range was from the view-point of a video camera, operated by Samantha, but it didn’t work as I couldn’t capture the emotions and thoughts of the central character. I chose a female character because having read many novels of a similar genre I found the lead was male, more often than not, and though I wanted to explore a different angle and see how a female would cope in such difficult times, it didn’t require a lot of decision-making as it came naturally to write from a female perspective. It wasn’t too difficult to write from a female point of view, though I did seek advice at times, especially when it came to certain phrases and mannerisms.

SP: Who is your favourite character in the novel and why?

DF: That’s a tough one! I want to say Pedley because he’s a creepy guy and I enjoyed spending time creating him. Yet I’m drawn to Vic more so because he’s the underdog, and despite his odd nature, he has a good heart and wants to be needed.

SP: Which did you enjoy writing about the most: the goodies or baddies?

DF: Whilst spending time in Samantha’s head has been a great experience, and something of a learning curve too, I relished writing scenes with the bad guys because it was a chance to explore the darker side of human nature.

SP: You’ve chosen to set the main part of the novel’s action in the University City of Cambridge, UK, a place with which you’re closely familiar. Did you ever consider setting it in a fictional city, or did you think it important to choose a real place so as to give the reader a frame of reference amidst all the apocalyptic-style chaos that ensues?

DF: It wasn’t necessary to give readers a sense of reference since many readers may not be familiar with Cambridge or other locations. I chose real life places to ground myself in those surroundings in the hope it would feel more real to the reader. The “write what you know” aspect of storytelling doesn’t always work since I don’t know any Bloodwalkers, however, using real places enabled me to visit them to get a better sense of the “what-if” factor and hopefully with realism in place it would make the fantastical elements more believable, and frightening.

SP: The novel opens up all manner of “what-if” questions, some of which are complex. Are you a writer who researches and does a plot outline in advance, or do you research as you write and let the characters decide what happens?

DF: I prefer a blend of the two. Early drafts were written from the seat of my pants, and I learned that it didn’t work well due to losing track of where I wanted characters and plot to go. I adopted a system of knowing where I wanted the story or each chapter/scene to start, Point A, and knowing where I wanted them to end up, Point C, and enjoying the ride through Point B. I did considerable research into many aspects of the story, some I never used, but it helped build my confidence with the characters and events.

SP: Without holding you to an exact date, when are you intending to publish The Holt, your sequel to The Range?

DF: I’m about half way through The Holt and plan to finish it by May 2015. Allowing time for beta reader feedback and editing, I estimate The Holt will be published by the end of summer, possibly early autumn 2015. Day jobs are indeed a distraction when it comes to spending time in Imaginationland.

SP: Who and what in your life has most inspired or encouraged you to write?

DF: From an early age it was my dad who inspired me to write. He encouraged me to read more than the books given out at school. After reading Kes or Buddy from English class, I’d hide under the covers at night and read Stephen King. He has been a constant source of help and guidance over the years. Equally important are my close friends who cheered me on when I felt my heart wasn’t in it at times.

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Thank you, Dave. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the interview and hope you have, too!

the range book cover FINALThe Range is available for purchase in both kindle and paperback format from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com.

Dave blogs at www.davefarmer.co.uk

Yay, It’s Publication Day for Dave Farmer’s Novel, “The Range” :-)

the range book cover FINALNews breaks of a deadly virus in Asia but, despite fatalities, few people take it seriously.

Sheltered within the university bubble, Samantha and Louise are convinced the UK is invulnerable to this virus, until gruesome events unfold around the world and the death toll rises from hundreds to millions.

By the time the virus reaches England and students on campus start falling sick, Samantha has to weigh up the risks of travelling home to London. She decides to sit tight with Louise and wait for everything to blow over.

But the situation further deteriorates in ways the two friends couldn’t have envisaged. Their student flat is no fortress and there’s only one place they’ll be safe: The Range.

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Hearty congratulations to Dave! Today, the Kindle edition of The Range (Bloodwalker Legacy Book 1) becomes available for purchase from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. The print on demand version is available via CreateSpace and will be linked to the Kindle listing in 3-5 business days.

Some of you will remember Dave from his previous appearance on my blog as June’s guest storyteller, where he whetted our appetites with an extract from The Range. In that post, I described him as writing speculative type “what-if” fiction that concentrates on things such as courage, loyalty and friendship, but with an apocalyptic slant. Of course, this makes him very much a writer after my own heart.

Dave blogs at www.davefarmer.co.uk

June’s Guest Storyteller, Dave Farmer

davefarmer

Dave Farmer escaped the crowded industry of the West Midlands, England, and enjoys the big skies and open country of rural Cambridgeshire every day. Although his Midland accent has softened he still refuses to pronounce it ‘parth’ and ‘barth’ because it doesn’t feel right in his mouth.

When not writing, he resumes the hunt for the perfect sandwich, plays with the family dogs, and discusses how to survive the end of days, should it ever happen.

To find out more you can read posts on his blog, www.davefarmer.co.uk, where he shares his thoughts and ideas of the world around him.

And yes, Cambridge is as posh as everyone thinks.

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Sarah says: Hi Dave, thank you so much for guest storytelling this month. I’m a great fan of your blog: especially your wry observations re human behaviour, as well as your scarier stuff about zombies and the like.

For those of you who aren’t already followers of Dave’s blog and are unfamiliar with his work, he writes speculative type “what-if” fiction that concentrates on things such as courage, loyalty and friendship, but with an apocalyptic slant. Below, is a short extract from his novel-in-progress.

Extract from The Range & Chapter 2 called 2.47

When the video started, the footage was blurred and shaky.

Trees lined a busy intersection. Traffic chugged around pedestrians as they crossed the road. After several seconds of watery blue sky, the sun low on the horizon, a pale-faced kid with chubby cheeks filled the screen. He grinned then panned the camera over a statue of a naked guy stood next to a horse.

‘Lou, that’s Pont d’Iena, right next to the Eiffel Tower. We went there on a school trip, remember?’ I glanced up at her. ‘Sure Denise sent the right link?’

‘Yeah, keep watching.’

After half a minute I clicked pause. ‘Seriously, Lou? This is boring. Denise must be laughing her arse off.’

‘She says it happens at two forty seven. Play it.’

We watched more footage of trees and people talking into the camera – two girls around five or six years old with, who I assumed were, their parents taking pictures with their phones. The sound was choppy and out of synch. I tried to change the quality with the controls below the video but it was stuck on 360p.

It happened before then. I don’t think anyone else spotted it. The younger of the two sisters wore a sleeveless yellow dress with white lace around the neck. Her long brown hair was woven into two neat plaits tied with wispy pink ribbons.

She began to fidget and her bottom lip quivered. She reached up to grab her mum’s hand. Her eyes widened before she buried her face against Mum’s hip. At 1.31 the camera panned around.

Crowds rushed across the busy intersection. A FedEx truck slammed into a small group of children. The impact knocked them into a surge of screaming tourists.

No one stopped to help them.

The camera jolted and swung as people were swept down the road. Half way across the bridge the chubby kid stopped. The camera angled down and appeared to lift off the pavement. A head appeared and two arms reached up. Traffic slowed to a crawl, an orchestra of horns wailed like sirens of panic. In contrast to the solid Eifel Tower the crowd beneath it moved in waves. Large groups split and reformed, a tsunami of screaming people hemmed in by the bridge. Dozens were forced over the side before a gap opened in the stampede.

This new wave showed no signs of panic or fear. At the centre of the group a man in a blood soaked shirt jerked upright and collapsed. Blood pumped from deep lacerations on his neck and his right forearm was missing.

Behind him two teenagers with bloody faces carried between them what looked like the survivor of a tiger attack.

At 2.47 the camera focussed on a young girl. Her dainty yellow dress was smudged with dirt and drops of blood. A plait had lost its ribbon. Frayed hair floated in the breeze. One arm was raised to grip a hand. The rest of her mum had been left behind. The girl turned and stared at the camera with milky yellow eyes.

I felt Louise’s hand clamp down on my shoulder.

The girl had no throat. She opened her mouth once or twice before moving off with the rest of the crowd, still holding the hand.

My other flat mate, Karla, threw back her chair and puked into the sink.

‘Turn it off.’ Louise’s voice sounded a million miles away.

My hand on the mouse wouldn’t respond.

‘Sam.’

Louise slammed down the laptop screen.

The touch of her steady hand on mine made me jump.

I couldn’t stop trembling.

I looked at my friend’s white faces and knew they too could smell fear’s foul breath.

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You can find the links to previous guest storyteller posts at https://sarahpotterwrites.com/guest-storytellers-2/