Interview with Matt Drabble

Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The Dead Zone by Stephen King. I remember being enthralled by his sense of space and time to create fully fleshed out characters and storylines. He has a unique ability to create a human landscape that you feel as though you are living in. I remember finding empathy and an investment in the main chracter like I hadn't before. I was also fascinated by the multiple story strands and feleing like a reading multiple stories within one book.
How do you approach cover design?
The cover design is my starting point for every book. I produce all of my own covers and it acts as a doorway into the new world that I am creating. Without a cover I have no door and I am only looking in through a window from the outside.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
The Shining, Salems Lot & Bag of Bones all by Stephen King - These are wonderful examples of an author who gives a story time to breathe and characters time to develop. The Shining is a fantastic deconstruction of a man haunted by the ghost of his father and his fight and fears that he will become his father one day. Salems Lot is an example of his ability to sketch out an entire town with every dark secret and every twitching curtain. Bag of Bones is such a sad and touching story of a bereaved man haunting the world around him until he finds an anchor.

Headhunter by Michael Slade. The Michael Slade books about the "Special X" department. His novels are always brilliantly reserached and packed full of details without ever slowing the story down. Gruesome, thrilling and exciting.

Watchmen by Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons - I am a big graphic novel fan and Watchmen is simply a superb piece of work. A graphic novel that makes onto the New York Time's 100 best novels of all time makes it a graphic novel that demands to be taken seriously as a novel. A brilliant depiction of what sort of people would don capes and masks and fight crime, the answer - seriously damaged, flawed and often very dangerous ones. The political exploration of a 1980's world changed by one election feels frighteningly all too real.
What do you read for pleasure?
I always read a lot of the likes of: Stephen King, Iain Rankin, Michael Slade, Stephen Leather, John Katzenbach, Thomas Harris, Frank Miller, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use a Kindle
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
At this level word of mouth still seems to be the best marketing tool, after writing something decent. I wrote 2 early books which didn;t really do much, but my third attempt a dark thriller called "Gated" built slowly and took off peaking at #4 on the UK Horror Chart. The ratio of downloads to reviews left is small and you do have to give a lot of copies away which is always useful for gaining reviews. But if you've written something good, then people will start pushing that snowball down the hill. Any marketing that you try must be aimed at your genre.
Describe your desk
I have a small office at home. My desk is L shaped and I have had to make sure that I use notebooks for all of my thoughts as the random pieces of paper were getting difficult to keep track of. I have a small TV mounted on the wall opposite me with satellite television and a DVD player hooked up to it. I cannot stand silence and I always have to have a film or TV show playing when I work.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Bath in the UK. It is a beautiful Roman city and I often travel back to watch my Rugby team. The only real influence that affects my work is a spooky experience that I had as a small which I have used as a introduction in my new collectio of short stories.
When did you first start writing?
I have always dabbled in trying to write a novel for the alst 10 years or so. I had a novel which I would pick up from time to time and work on before putting it down again for long periods of time. A little over a year ago I had a nasty back injury and was eventually diagnosed with a degenerative condition that made full-time work difficult but I didn't qualify for any financial help. Unable to work properly I took up writing seriously in attempt to help contribute to my family, looking back it was somewhat arrogant and naive! But after about 14 months I am seeing enough encouragement rhough reviews and sales to keep going.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I have several new books. My most recently self-published novel called "Abra-Cadaver" is an exploration in a childhood friendship that is cut off at the knees and the attempts to piece those relationships back together again after 20 years. This is all set against the back drop of a murder mystery horror story with inventive set pieces and characters that you care about and a whole town with dark secrets.

I am in negotiations with a publisher in San Francisco about a first draft of a novel called "The Montague Portrait" which is a supernatural thriller. It is a story about two damaged characters thrown together in a serach for a cursed painting across Europe. One character is looking for a reason to hang onto this world and the other is looking to bring an end to her life's quest and find the answers to start a life.

I have also just finished the first draft of a new collection of short horror stories called "Campfire Tales". My best selling book to date was "Asylum - 13 Tales of Terror" so as the format seems popular I thought that I would produce a series of short story collections.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
As I said earlier finding myself unable to work and needing to earn I took what was a hobby and threw myself into writing full-time. I didn't know from the start that it would be a long and often painful journey but basically teaching myself to write took several books to find a groove. I hope to keep writing and keep growing as an author and I am a firm believer that practice makes perfect.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I have only just joined Smashwords so to be perfectly honest I am in no position to comment yet.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Finding that someone has enjoyed my hard work and contacts me as though I am a "real" author. I love to create whole towns with varied characters that are not merely caricatures. To be able to start with a blank screen and turn around a few moths later an find that you've created a whole world from thin air is a great feeling.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. Before I started making a small living from sales time were very tough after my injury and subsequent diagnosis and life was a very long dark tunnel. The people that have bought my books have shown me a light at the end of that tunnel and I now have hopes of a brighetr future.
What are you working on next?
I think that I will be splitting my time between volume two of "Campfire Tales" and perhaps a sequel to "Gated". If I sign with the publishers who want to take "The Montague Portrait" I will also be spending a lot of time editing that as well.
Who are your favorite authors?
Stephen King will always be #1
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A noisly labrador who wants her breakfast
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I am a big sports fan and I travel back to Bath for the rugby and to Liverpool for the football as often as time and money permit. I am also a big comic book geek and video game fan. I also greatly enjoy the movie world and have built home cinema.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
For new authors it tends to be recommendations from other readers or national reviews via the radio or genre specific magazines.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I wrote a "whodunnit" novel called "Dark Hearts" when I was working at a cinema in Cardiff about 20 years ago. It is one of the projects that I always want to return and finish properly when I find the time.
What is your writing process?
I start with a cover. Once I have an rough idea of the general story I start writing. I find that I work best if I discover the story as I go. Sometimes I will have anchor points along the way, but most of the time I have a starting point and and ending and I figure out the rest as I go.

I make a very conscious not to analyze my process and I work on auto-pilot. I clock in every morning like any other job and I set myself a minimum word count of 2000 words a day Monday to Friday.

Once I have a completed first draft I use about 10 or readers that I have had contact with to beta test the material before I start editing. I need to make sure that any changes I make are heading in the right direction for my audience.
Published 2013-09-13.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.