Interview with M. David Ward

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Harlow in Essex, a new town about 30 miles north of London. The term "new town" is a little misleading as both my parents were also born and raised there, as were most of my grandparents, great-grandparents etc. Naturally, I was oblivious to all of this as a young child but, as I entered my teens, I slowly came to realise that these deep roots set me apart from my friends, most of whom were from families that had moved into the area, mostly from London. My parents and grandparents would tell me about the lost villages that were now simple suburbs and I would feel their nostalgia as though I too remembered that which they had lost. Unfortunately, the new town was built from brick, concrete, glass and a generous dose of post-war optimism, and all have crumbled in equal measure.
My formative years were spent looking backwards, preferring to dwell upon the history of my town and my family rather than to engage with the future. I even resolved, at one time, never to read a novel by an author who still drew breath!
Ironically, I think that perhaps it was my interest in cosmology (the science that looks farther back than any other) that saved me. I never forgot the curiosity that was aroused by television documentaries such as the BBC's excellent Horizon series and so, equipped with disposable income, I began to read New Scientist and popular science books such as "A Brief History of Time", "Longitude" and "Fermat's Last Theorem". New Scientist really opened my eyes and, as I read it every week and every word, I began to appreciate the subtleties that lay out there, in the wider world.
Tell us about your latest book
“The Blue Angels” is my second novel and is significantly more hard-hitting than “The Marguerite Effect”. It tells the story of Milton Styles, an everyman who has lost his family in a natural disaster. When the novel begins, Milton is falling apart, haunted by a recurring nightmare in which he witnesses his family’s final moments. Very soon however, the dream changes with the appearance of the beautiful blue lights that the world will come to know as the Blue Angels. Milton finds love and hope but he also acquires a powerful enemy as he tries to find out what those lights represent.
Are you in the process of writing a new book?
I am. I’ve been planning it for almost a year now. The new book is also a sci-fi piece and is set in England in the very near future. I won’t give too much away but there are murders, a particle collider, the world’s wealthiest individual, an unfortunate allergy to spiders and shadows of Arthurian legend in the mix. I hope to stop planning and to start writing within the next couple of months and to have something that can be called complete by the end of the year. As yet though, it doesn’t even have a title.
When and why did you start writing?
I guess the urge has always been there, as it is in many people. I first started to kick ideas around when I was in my twenties (a long time ago) but I just didn’t know how to even start writing anything. It took a couple of Open University courses back in 2007 to finally set me on the road. Writing is a hobby for me now: I commute into London every day and instead of reading, I write.
What do your fans mean to you?
I'd love some! There is one young lad where I work who has nothing but good things to say about "The Marguerite Effect" and has been pestering me for the next. I've not been shouting about my books there, but the truth will out. It's always nice when your work is pulled, rather than having to be pushed.
What inspired you to write your first book?
I’d written some short stories as a part of my OU courses, and as a sort of “run up” to a novel. Most of these ended up in “True Colours”. As to my first novel, I was on holiday with my family in France back in 2010 and I happened to notice that the sediment in the bottom of my near-empty wine glass was spinning around. I puzzled for a few minutes over what kept it moving and then had the idea of a scientist discovering the ultimate in green energy. I started to write the story and then, when I had written around 25,000 words, I realised I was actually writing a novel. Eighteen months later, “The Marguerite Effect” was complete.
Who are your favorite authors?
I wish I still had the time to read! I will always hold an affection for the work of Charles Dickens. So many people, who have only seen television adaptations of his work, believe him to be heavy, dour and depressing but really, nothing could be further from the truth. He wrote about what he saw around him and the grinding poverty can't really be softened. His characters though, and his writing generally, are full of humour. As to more modern authors, Greg Bear is always worth a read, as is the much-maligned Dan Brown. OK, these aren't great works of literature, but they're good, escapist reads nevertheless. Another favourite of mine is Kurt Vonnegut. I was surprised to learn that there is actually some science behind "Ice Nine". I know I shouldn't have been, but I was: I had imagined the eponymous substance to be purely the work of a fine imagination.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My mortgage.
Do you have a specific writing style?
With something as personal and introspective as writing, a person’s personality will inevitably manifest itself. Curiously though, the personality that shows through might not be one that others will recognise. I don’t intentionally emulate anyone, but “The Library at Saint Pelice”, for example, was written as a homage to M. R. James, whereas “A Streetlight Named Desire” was inspired by Tom Sharpe. For my novels though, I tend to go for the recognisable, even if it’s bent a little out of shape. There’s always a little humour too, sprinkled here and there. “The Blue Angels” deals with grief and loss, as well as love and madness, but that’s no reason not to assume a wry smile upon occasion. As Joshua Hayle, the villain of “The Blue Angels”, complains after a thwarted murder: ‘What the Hell use is it owning your own plane if you can’t throw someone out of it?’
How did you come up with the title, "The Blue Angels"?
In my mind, UFOs mean extra-terrestrials. I think that’s the case with most people, even if they don’t actually believe. While researching UFO sightings however, it became clear that an alarmingly large number of people – particularly in parts of the USA – have alternative explanations, namely that UFOs are piloted by demons or angels. The lights in the book are beautiful, blue and serene and so I assumed that those same people would most likely associate them with angels. The book itself takes a more ambiguous stance.
What was the hardest part of writing fiction?
The old advice, that honesty is the best policy, is excellent advice: lies have to be remembered, in contradiction to actual events. At its heart, a fiction novel is simply an elaborate lie in which every attribute of every event has to be remembered, justified and carried forward: get it very wrong and your readers will notice.
No story exists in isolation; all our lives are inextricably linked with those around us, the wider world and – ultimately - the universe itself. In fact, no story can happen unless everything else is ripe for it to do so. The writer, then, has to consider a raft of things that fall outside of the story in order to give it context, meaning and direction and the trick of it is to know how much of the “whole story” to work out and how much of that to write. I think of it this way: when lightning strikes sand, the shape of the fulgurite glass that it makes depends upon much, much more than the lightning bolt’s own properties. The sand itself will dictate much, as will recent weather and the sand’s location (wet sand will behave differently to dry sand, as will sand that is wet with salt or fresh water). The story is the fulgurite, and the writer, the lightning. If the writer knows nothing of the sand, how does he know that the final shape makes sense?
Published 2014-05-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Abraham
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 122,140. Language: English. Published: July 4, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » High tech
What past mistake would you correct and how far would you go to do so? When a mysterious phenomenon in the heart of ABRAHAM, a colossal particle collider, appears to offer just such an opportunity, billionaire tech mogul Hector Brasfort knows exactly. Can he finally escape his past, and one day in particular? In turning to face his nightmare head on, is he betting his future on an illusion?
The Blue Angels
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 101,770. Language: British English. Published: March 25, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.00)
To Milton Styles, the lights that have begun to accompany natural disasters offer hope that his family might still be alive. To Joshua Hayle, they are harbingers of the apocalypse upon which his Texan church is based. When Milton's quiet, grief-stricken world collides with Hayle's, the two men become locked into a battle for the truth. Who is right, and will either survive to reap the rewards?
True Colours - A Collection of Short Fiction
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 35,920. Language: British English. Published: January 8, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Anthologies » General, Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
This is a collection of seven short stories. There is no overarching theme, but all have a twist and most lean toward the supernatural or the unexpected.
The Marguerite Effect
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 87,530. Language: English. Published: October 14, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Adventure » General
(4.00)
While daydreaming in the sun over dinner, Professor Chris Aitken realises that the wine recommended by wine waitress “Marguerite” has unique properties. When Marguerite vanishes with the only sample of the wine, Chris calls on his former protégé Philippe for help. Together they uncover a plan so audacious that an alien government is willing to consider unthinkable sanctions to prevent it.