Complementing my interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the three hundred and twenty-third, is of crime, fantasy, horror writer, guest blogger, and interviewee Dave Sivers. If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at author-spotlights.
Dave grew up in West London, England. He left school at 16 to start a successful civil service career that took him to a diverse range of locations, including Newport, Rhode Island, Northern Norway, and Sutton Coldfield.
Over the years, he has gained a First Class Honours degree from the Open University and moonlighted as, among other things, a nightclub bouncer, a bookmaker’s clerk and a freelance writer.
Since taking early retirement from the day job, he has devoted more time to his writing and has so far published four e-books. His debut crime fiction novel, The Scars Beneath the Soul, was published in May this year. Set in Buckinghamshire, it introduces Detective Inspector Lizzie Archer and Detective Sergeant Dan Baines.
He is also the author of the Lowmar Dashiel Mysteries, which blend private eye thriller with sword and sorcery fantasy, and a short story collection, Dark and Deep: Ten Coffee Break Crime Stories.
In whatever spare time he can find, Dave can be found writing, directing or performing in amateur theatre productions, trying to keep on top of his allotment, supporting Queen’s Park Rangers Football Club, or attempting to play guitar just a little more like Mark Knopfler.
And now from the author himself:
It must have been six or seven years ago that I was in Harrogate, at the Theakstons Old Peculier Crime Writing Festival, listening to a panel discussion about the gritty city versus the cosy country as a setting for crime fiction.
During the Q&A, I was moved to admit to living in rural Buckinghamshire, my nearest city being Milton Keynes. I wasn’t sure that the world was waiting with bated breath for The Great Milton Keynes Crime Novel, and my question to the panel was whether this doomed me to writing cosy crime featuring little old ladies and teashops.
I’m fairly sure it was Denise Mina who advised me to get off my backside, get myself to a big city, and research it and its mean streets. I could see what she meant, yet the idea of non-cosy crime fiction set in my own local area wouldn’t quite go away.
A few years later, and another crime writing festival: this time Crimefest in Bristol. I can’t quite put my finger on where the inspiration came from, but in one of the intervals I started jotting down pen-picture ideas for two detectives. Both were damaged, but they weren’t the stereotypical divorced, drink-problem, maverick cops. One had sustained physical damage in the shape of facial disfigurement, and the other was wounded mentally after losing his family to a serial killer.
Back home, I gave a lot more thought to these two characters. I was interested in exploring how these scars affected each of them and their relationships. An idea for a killer for them to pursue also started to emerge, and I knew I wanted to set the story in Buckinghamshire – in my own Aylesbury Vale, to be precise.
The real challenge was to inject some grit into what is essentially a collection of market towns and villages. I didn’t have the luxury of a teeming, densely populated metropolis with labyrinthine alleys and a claustrophobic feel with which to play. I did however have a good-sized town in Aylesbury, which has its good and not-so-good parts, and I also felt that terrible things happening in neighbouring communities – sleepy villages and quiet small towns – could be a shocking contrast to normal life in those places.
I didn’t see why it inevitably followed that the usual stock of village characters – the vicar, the chair of the parish councillor, the guy in the big house and the local busybody – all had to figure prominently, nor that my detectives had to spend half their time in a village pub supping pints of local ale whilst some little old lady tipped them off on some overlooked clue.
I figured that if I viewed the area through a darkened filter and added a few bleak brushstrokes, such as the fictitious Northfields estate, I could have a suitable stage on which brutal killers and dogged detectives could strut their stuff as grittily as if they were in London, Manchester or Glasgow. I have also disguised some of the villages and taken a few liberties with geography. The result is perhaps a shadowy twin of the real Aylesbury Vale.
Has it worked? Readers who know the area have commented that they recognise the place they live in, and feedback and reviews also suggest that readers have engaged with Archer and Baines – their relationship and their personal demons – and have an appetite for a sequel. That’s music to the ears of any writer.
You can find more about Dave and his writing via…
- His website: www.davesivers.co.uk
- Twitter: http://twitter.com/davesivers
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/davesiverswriter
- Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6912270.Dave_Sivers
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I welcome items for critique directly (see Editing & Critique) or for posting on 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
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