Saturday, 20 August 2016
Author Q&A | Dane Cobain |
1. When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I started to take it seriously when I was eighteen or so, at around the time that I finished writing my first novel. I was planning on going to study web development at university, but at the last minute, I decided to switch my degree to creative writing instead. I haven’t looked back since!
2. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends upon the book and how I write it. As a general rule, I’d say around a year or so. I used to write my books by hand, which took a lot longer, although I’ve switched to using a computer now. You also have to factor in how long it takes to go through editing and layout. Former.ly took over three years; Social Paranoia took about six months, but it took place over a period of a year and a half because I kept stopping and starting depending upon what other projects I had on the go.
3. What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
I’m always writing! I have quite a specific schedule which I adhere to whilst watching Netflix. Every five minutes, I switch activities, rotating through doing things on my computer to tidying my flat to writing stuff. That’s the simplified version, but it’d be going into too much detail to explain the whole thing.
4. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
It’s quite difficult to quantify, but it’s my writing style as a whole. It’s sort of alternative and occasionally dark, but also approachable. If you’re familiar with my work then you’d be able to recognise it without my name being attached to it.
5. How do books get published?
It totally depends upon the author and the publisher, if they have one. Everyone has their own publication routine, and the ease of use of self-publishing routes such as CreateSpace mean that people can really do whatever the hell they want to get their books out into readers’ hands. But in my view, a couple of rounds of professional editing and proofreading, as well as a competent cover design, are essential.
6. Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
I do most of my research online, although I do read books in similar genres to see what works and what doesn’t. As for the ideas, it really depends – I often start with a vague idea, which just simmers in my head for a couple of months and picks up details here and there. Then, when I’m ready to actually plan something out, I start to commit it all to paper, making changes and additions when appropriate.
7. When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I started writing it at seventeen and finished it at eighteen. It was a book called ‘Annie’, which told the story of a teenage girl who was being sexually abused by her alcoholic stepfather. It wasn’t very good and it’s not ready to see the light of day, but it was good practice at least.
8. What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I’m almost always either writing or working. But when I’m not doing one of those, I like to socialise or to play guitar – often both, by going to open mic nights.
9. What does your family think of your writing?
I don’t get on very well with one side of my family and so I have no idea – I don’t think they think of it at all. But on my mom’s side, they’re all very supportive, and they’ve been buying and reading all of my books ever since I was just ordering limited print runs of a dozen or so, before I started to release my work to the public.
10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I’d have to reiterate myself and talk about the importance of professional editing and cover design. As both a writer and as a book blogger, I can’t stress that enough. It’s very, very rare for an author to put out a perfect book without outside help. Why take that chance? Why not work with a creative team to push out the very best book you can? It’s a no-brainer!
11. How many books have you written? Which is your favourite?
I’ve written far more books than are actually available, because that’s all part of learning your craft. Some of them will eventually be re-released (after going through editing), and some will never see the light of day. In total, I’ve written XX books (and three albums of music), but only four books and two albums are currently on general sale. It’s hard to pick a favourite, but I’ll always have a soft spot for No Rest for the Wicked, as that was the first one that underwent a proper, professional release.
12. Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
It might sound a little obvious, but read as much as you can and write as much as you can. There’s no better way to learn than via hands-on experience.
13. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I do, but not as much as I’d like to – I always encourage people to post a review, whether they enjoyed the book or not. The feedback is mostly positive, and when I do get negative feedback, it’s generally constructive stuff that I can learn from. And they’re often just two sides of the same coin. For example, the most common piece of positive feedback for No Rest for the Wicked is that the reader devoured the whole book in one sitting. The most common piece of negative feedback is that they felt that it was too short. You can’t really have one without the other!
14. Do you like to create books for adults?
I’ve never been one for writing for an audience. I write books that I want to read myself, and then I just hope that my readers enjoy them. So far, it seems to be working well. But as I’m an adult, I guess all of my books have adults as the primary target audience. This was a long-winded way of saying the simple answer: “Yes.”
15. What do you think makes a good story?
A mixture of strong characters and a good plot, combined with accessible language and a pace that keeps you turning the pages until the end.
16. As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I wanted to be a rock star when I was little, but I figured that was unachievable and so I switched my focus to writing instead. That said, I still write music and perform in front of audiences, and I maintain that my music is just an extension of my writing overall. It’s just another format for me to play with.