Interview with David Moody

When did you first start writing?
I remember it well - I started writing seriously (i.e. with a plan and objectives) on 1st January 1994. I grew up a huge fan of horror and science-fiction books and films, and when I left school I wanted to make movies. Unfortunately I didn't have any relevant experience back then, nor did I have any obvious means of getting any. Film courses were few and far between in those dark, pre-Internet days, and I needed to earn some money first! I ended up working for a high street bank (about as far removed from my dream vocation as I could get). But the stories I'd always dreamed of filming just wouldn't go away, and after a few attempts at writing screenplays, a decided to try writing more traditional prose. I told myself I'd write a page a day, and that I wouldn't go back and start editing until I'd finished each full draft. By the end of May 1994 I'd written my first novel.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is actually my oldest book! I struck lucky (or so I thought) when my debut novel, Straight to You, was published in 1996. However the book sank without trace, and rightly so. Looking back with the benefit of twenty years writing experience and several hundred thousand books sold, I grew to hate my first published work. But I loved the story and so, apparently, did a lot of other people. So I rewrote it. The basic premise, the characters' names and a few key scenes are all that remain from the original.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My motivation was getting my work read. When Straight to You was published traditionally back in 1996, I thought I'd hit the big time. Wrong. Only five hundred copies were printed, and less than half that number were sold. When it came to releasing my second novel, Autumn, I knew I needed to take a different approach. What good's an author without readers. I thought? So I decided to give the book away online. Everybody's giving their work away for free now, but back in 2001 I was on my own. Cut a long story short: over half a million downloads in a few years, several sequels and a movie adaptation (starring Dexter Fletcher and David Carradine), and I'd become an indie author without even realising. When movie rights to one of my other novels, Hater, were picked up by Guillermo del Toro and Mark Johnson, my back catalogue was acquired by Thomas Dunne Books of New York. But, much as I enjoyed being published by a major publisher, there was much I missed about doing it myself. So now I do both. I've released Trust, Straight to You and Autumn: The Human Condition through Infected Books, my own publishing house, and I'm looking forward to releasing much more in the coming months.
What are you working on next?
Right now I have a number of other projects on the go. I've two other completed novels - Strangers and 17 Days - with my agent, and we'll be deciding what to do with them in the coming months. I'm about to start work on the first book in a four-volume science-fiction/horror series called The Spaces Between. Think Quatermass meets The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and you're halfway there! I've also got a number of other novels planned.
Who are your favorite authors?
John Wyndham, HG Wells and James Herbert.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a large family, and working from home means I spend a lot of my time looking out for the kids - household chores, dog walking, cooking and cleaning etc. When I do get some time off, I'm an avid movie watched and concert-goer. I also run - very far but not very fast. I do some of my best work when I'm out running. Seriously. It's the only time I don't get interrupted!
What is your writing process?
I just answered this on my website, www.davidmoody.net, so I'll copy/paste my answer here! I think of the writing process as being similar to sculpting. Bear with me…

Before I write anything, I spend a lot of time just thinking. My family don’t get it. I don’t think they believe me, actually, when I get out of the bath or come in from a run or from walking the dog and I tell them I’ve been working. But it’s often when I’m distracted (i.e. not looking at that blank screen or empty piece of paper) that inspiration strikes. I don’t tend to write down anything other than a few scribbled notes until I’ve thought about the idea long enough to have developed the broadest of details: the characters, the world, the ‘quest’ and the ending.

This is the point where, for me, the planning work really starts. I sit down and write an outline, which I then re-write, adding more detail. I re-write again and again and again… as many times as I think is necessary, filling in the blanks as best I can until I’ve written a scene-by-scene/chapter-by-chapter breakdown. For me, the next stage of the process is the hardest and also the most important. It’s the dreaded first draft – the point where planning and writing collide, usually with ugly results. Make no mistake, finishing a first draft can be a long, painful and drawn out experience, and there’s a good chance you’ll end up scrapping much of what you write. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The first draft is where I really get to grips with the book. It’s where the details of the plot get ironed out. At the risk of sounding really pretentious, it’s where I get to know my characters. Think about it: before this stage, you’ve only talked about the people you’ve created for your story in the broadest terms, but now you’re giving them a voice, describing their appearance, watching them interact with each other, and so on… it’s almost inevitable that things are going to change from what you’d originally planned.

Once the first draft is complete, I print it off and edit it from paper. I make notes directly on the manuscript and I also keep a separate document where I list my bigger concerns as and when they come up – themes or plot points I think need developing, alternate scenes/storylines, etc. Again, this is a good thing. Think about the point I just made about getting to know your characters. It stands to reason you’ll understand them better as you finish the closing chapters of your first draft than you did when you started writing, so there’s a good chance they might have done things early on in your book which might seem out of character or somewhat illogical by the end.

So, once I’ve edited my first draft and my notes are complete (they usually run to about twenty handwritten pages in length, to give you an idea), I start writing again. And again. I’ll rewrite as many times as I think necessary – until I’ve reached the stage where I no longer have any questions about the book. If there are any elements I’m still not sure about, the book’s not finished. Each time I rewrite I think of it as adding a layer of detail, and that’s where my sculpting analogy comes in.

Picture the scene: you’ve had a huge lump of stone delivered, and you need to turn it into a full-size, lifelike sculpture. You wouldn’t start by carving an eye, would you? Or by working on the hair or fingers? That’d be stupid. I’m no sculptor, but I reckon you’d start by carving the basic outline: getting the figure into position and in proportion, carving the general shape of the head, torso and limbs. Next stage: you’d probably refine the work you’d done so far, adding basic facial features, hands and fingers, clothing etc. After that, you’d get closer still… the folds of material, the expression on the face, veins and muscles and so on…
See what I’m getting at? I think it’s exactly the same when you’re writing a book. Start with your lump of stone (i.e. your idea), get the basic shape nailed (your plot outline, characters and locations etc.), add the key features (i.e. write your first draft) then keep chipping away at it, adding layers of detail with each subsequent draft until you’re done.

I had a huge number of aborted attempts when I was trying to write my first book, and those failures were generally down to me not doing enough initial planning. I eventually set myself some ground rules which I stuck to rigidly. I started following these rules on 1st January 1994, and by May that year I’d written STRAIGHT TO YOU.

Know what you’re going to write and do enough planning so you’re comfortable with what comes next.

Write at least a page a day (or a chapter a day or so many words a day… whatever target you think’s appropriate).

Don’t stop until you’ve finished each draft. Resist all temptation to go back and edit a draft until it’s complete.

Don’t force it: if you’re not in the right mood to write, walk away and come back later.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Day of the Triffids by John Wyndham. It was the first post-apocalyptic novel I read (and I was far too young at the time!), and it really opened my eyes to the power of speculative fiction. I was also amazed that he could make a story about the human race being blinded then attacked by eight foot tall, carnivorous walking plants feel real!
How do you approach cover design?
I have an idea of what I want, but I don't have the skills to pull it off. I employ a professional designer to turn my scribbled ideas into show-stopping reality!
Describe your desk
My computer, my speakers, my notes and no distractions!
Published 2014-02-03.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Deadly Eleven
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 728,820. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias
What happens when everything comes crumbling down? Some of today's best selling authors take you to the dark side in this collection of eleven deadly tales.
Strangers
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 89,210. Language: English. Published: December 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Psychological thriller
A dark and dirty horror novel from the author of HATER. A spate of brutal murders occur in and around the small town of Thussock. The bodies of the dead – savagely mutilated, unspeakably defiled – are piling up with terrifying speed. There are no apparent motives and no obvious connections between the victims, but the killings only began when Scott Griffiths and his family arrived in town...
Straight to You
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 73,080. Language: English. Published: February 9, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Utopias & dystopias, Fiction » Romance » Sci-fi
The sun is dying. The temperature around the world is rising by the hour with no sign of any respite. At this rate the planet will soon become uninhabitable; all life extinguished. It might be weeks away, it might be days… we may only have hours remaining. Society is crumbling. Steven Johnson’s wife is hundreds of miles away and all that matters is reaching her before the end of everything.
Autumn: The Human Condition
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 157,200. Language: English. Published: June 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » Undead, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » General
(4.00 from 1 review)
David Moody presents the final book in the acclaimed Autumn series, available for the first time since 2008. The human race is finished. Mankind is all but dead and only a handful of frightened individuals remain. Part-companion, part-guidebook and part-sequel, Autumn: The Human Condition follows the individual stories of almost fifty desperate survivors through their final dark days.
Everything and Nothing: a prequel to Dog Blood
Price: Free! Words: 9,680. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Horror » General, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Action & suspense
A prequel to Dog Blood, the second book in the Hater series. As the world descends into chaos around him, Danny McCoyne hunts for the family he thought he'd lost forever.
Trust
Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 81,870. Language: English. Published: November 5, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Apocalyptic, Fiction » Horror » General
The most important event in human history takes place in the middle of nowhere. Perspectives are altered. Perceptions are changed. Nothing will ever be the same again. Is this a moment of deliverance for the human race, or the beginning of its end? Tom Winter thinks he knows, but if he's right, then seven billion other people are wrong.