Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the two hundred and eighty-first, is of multi-genre David Antrobus – interview. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Born on a doomed Russian tramp steamer toward the end of the 19th Century to members of an ancient race of parasitic multi-limbed stowaways, godless heathen David Antrobus developed a taste for the outrageous, elaborate lies we like to call “fiction” at an early age. Consequently, not a single written word of his can be trusted.
Despite the above nonsense, David claims to be a Mancunian by birth and, at the time of writing, to have spent half his life in England and the other half in western Canada, an indication that miserable, grey, drizzly climates suit his disposition.
It therefore comes as no surprise to learn that he writes dark, speculative fiction that is in fact so dark it rarely sees the light of day. A common thread among many of his favourite writers (Ian McEwan, Cormac McCarthy, Clive Barker) is their ability to tether a deep lyricism to an unsettling sense of dread, the same unholy marriage to which he aspires in his own writing.
Given the above, it’s perhaps odd that David’s first two books are nonfiction, although some of the same impulses inform each of them in different ways. Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip is a short, intense, trauma-driven and ultimately redemptive personal account of the author’s visit to New York City in the wake of the 2001 terrorist attacks, while Endless Joke is a kind of snarky yet affectionate tribute to the world of writing in general and the braver, newer world of self- and epublishing in particular.
Passionately committed to the exciting albeit often frustrating world of independent writing, David formed his own proofreading and copyediting service (Be Write There) in order to help his fellow authors negotiate such rough and unpredictable waters, and is currently open to working with new clients.
David’s flash fiction has won numerous contests and Dissolute Kinship won the inaugural Big Al’s Books & Pals Readers’ Choice Award in the category of Memoir.
With a BA in English and Philosophy from the University of Manchester, David is also an alumnus of Simon Fraser University’s year-long creative writing certificate course, The Writer’s Studio, in Vancouver, B.C.
And now from the author himself:
An unfortunate and unnecessary tension exists between genre and mainstream fiction. Genre writers are often afraid to describe their work as literary for fear of sounding precious, while mainstream fiction writers occasionally look down on genre as something necessarily hackneyed or formulaic, or are simply afraid of being typecast as a “horror writer” or “science fiction writer,” etc. For me, both have a place at the banquet table, and neither should be perceived as more or less worthy. Indeed, they can often be one and the same.
Some of my favourite writing is both highly literate yet steeped in many of the conventions of genre, albeit tweaked in some way. A near perfect example of this would be Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Unquestionably moored in the post-apocalyptic genre—itself the bleakest spawn of science fiction and horror—McCarthy’s tale is gorgeously rendered despite its grim subject matter. Within its pages, writing of great power and beauty lurks. See for yourself:
“He lay listening to the water drip in the woods. Bedrock, this. The cold and the silence. The ashes of the late world carried on the bleak and temporal winds to and fro in the void. Carried forth and scattered and carried forth again. Everything uncoupled from its shoring. Unsupported in the ashen air. Sustained by a breath, trembling and brief. If only my heart were stone.”
This is deceptive; no obvious pyrotechnics here, yet McCarthy’s prose manages to be lyrical, muscular and innovative all at once. It’s not so much the sentence fragments, although they help build the tension toward that surprising last sentence. But that last sentence is audacious in its way: the sudden switch to first person is jarring, but it’s a good jolt, a necessary one. It’s against all the rules, of course, but it doesn’t feel wrong exactly. It’s as if the reader is somewhere within the very ash-filled air itself and is suddenly transported into the man’s thoughts; it’s intimate and damn near invasive, but it adds to the plaintiveness of those very thoughts, and to our painful awareness of his predicament.
Anyway, my point is that beautifully constructed writing can exist in any kind of story, whether it’s post-apocalyptic or paranormal romance. The trappings of genre don’t release us from our obligation to write the best possible book any more than a sonnet or a haiku encourages bad poetry.
So, that is what I aim for. Although my tastes lean darkward (I don’t honestly care whether you call it horror, suspense, dark fantasy or something else entirely), I will always try to write my absolute best work, whether it’s a zombie story, an alien-invasion western (yes, I have written something that could fit this description) or a more psychological tale of human monsters.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m not a snob. I enjoy splatter and gore as much as anyone in the field of horror, but I do prefer it daubed across a richer canvas, wherein deeper characters and more haunting moods dwell. To this end, I write what I would like to read, of course: something nightmarish that resonates long after the pages are closed (or the Kindle switched off), that encapsulates the fears, loves, sorrows and comforts of our age and leaves the cries, whispers and whimpers echoing inside the reader’s head for a long time after.
You can find more about David and his writing via…
- Website: The Migrant Type: http://www.the-migrant-type.com
- Editing Website: Be Write There: http://www.bewritethere.com
- Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/david.antrobus.author
- Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/DavidAntrobus
- About Me: http://about.me/davidantrobus
- LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/davidantrobus1
- Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/David-Antrobus/e/B004UHQMBK
- GoodReads: http://www.goodreads.com/David_Antrobus
- Tumblr: http://davidantrobus.tumblr.com
- Dissolute Kinship: A 9/11 Road Trip: http://www.amazon.com/Dissolute-Kinship-Road-Trip-ebook/dp/B004U7EUGE
- Endless Joke: http://www.amazon.com/Endless-Joke-Alternative-Writing-Manual/dp/1481054708
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel The Serial Dater’s Shopping List) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.