Interview with David Waine

What are your five favorite books, and why?
As a boy, two books stood out for me. One was 'Winnie the Pooh', which I still consider to be one of the funniest books ever written, and the other was 'Treasure Island', the first great adventure story that I ever read. I would dream of playing Jim Hawkins in a new film version - but then I turned twelve and became too old. As I grew, 'The Lord of the Rings' - the ultimate adventure story - supplanted it. These days, I am very fond of the works of Patrick O"Brian, with 'Master and Commander' being my favourite. That leaves me with one to choose. I am a fan of J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins, but there is one small scale book that edges both out for me. I stumbled across it by accident a few years ago and I loved every page. It is 'Father Frank' by Paul Burke.
What do you read for pleasure?
My taste is wide-ranging. My Kindle currently carries works by Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan-Doyle, J.K. Rowling, Suzanne Collins, George R.R. Martin and some of the better independent writers, including several of Elaine Waldron's works. Recently, I have also read 'The Boy in Striped Pyjamas' and 'About a Boy'. I am currently working my way through 'Catching Fire' by Suzanne Collins.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
The Kindle. I am on my third now.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Keywords and, reluctant though I am to admit it, special offers. Keywords is a complex subject and I have had to learn quickly about how to use them. Amazon seem to have become rather more fussy about what keywords they will allow recently, and that has really made me think about picking them carefully. Fortunately for me, Smashwords takes a much more liberal view.

Special offers have their place. I don't really like offering a book free because it means all that work for no reward. If it helps to generate sales elsewhere, however, it can be a good thing. In moderation. Most of my books are in series, so offering the first one free for a while can help to create interest in the others.
Describe your desk
I am sitting at it now, and it is a far cry from the idealised model of organised efficiency. In front of me is a 27" iMac that was my late mother's parting gift to me when she passed away in 2010. The printout of my most recently published book, 'The Power of Four Queens', is still on the desk in front of it - largely because I haven't got round to recycling it yet. On top of that is my new Kindle and my glasses case. Elsewhere on the desktop is a clutter of highlighters and gel pens that I use in the editing process, a couple of stray USB cables, a USB card reader for my digital camera and, for some reason, a pair of compasses that has nothing to do with me. The keyboard sits on a pull-out shelf and rests on some folded paper in case it wobbles. I don't have a mouse mat, as such, because I have a history of destroying them. An old cookery book does the job perfectly well. My mobile phone is charging up beside the keyboard. The only other feature of note is a small wooden calendar, made up of blocks, which I update religiously every morning. It was a Christmas present from my brother, who is also a writer.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. That was where I grew up and I still live only seven miles away. Newcastle is England's most northerly major city (its population is around 300,000). Although it is most famous for its industrial history (it was the regional centre of the shipbuilding and coal mining industries), it is actually a fine city and an ancient place with medieval and older relics and a rich cultural heritage. Sid Chaplin was a Geordie. Alan Plater was a Geordie, Dame Flora Robson was a Geordie, Kevin Whateley and Robson Green still are.

How did this influence my writing? How could it not? Most of England's industrial cities were little or nothing before the Industrial revolution. Not so Newcastle. It goes back to the Romans, who called it 'Pons Aelius'. You only have to walk around the old town and the quayside to drink in the atmosphere of centuries past. That is what gives me my inspiration. Many northern writers made their names with books about the Depression and grinding poverty in an industrial age. That is not me. I didn't live through the 1930s and my background was lower middle class. It was adventure and history that sparked my imagination. My home town has a surfeit of both.
When did you first start writing?
Aged nine, I wrote 'Angus McLeaden in the Lost World' with my friend, Alan Kane. The work was never finished, but we did manage to trot out over fifty pages of pencilled doggerel between us.

The real start, however, was when I was twenty-two. I was at college and about to qualify as a schoolteacher. One bitter February night, I found myself alone in my flat and up to date with my work for once. The television set had died and I had already read every book in the place, so I decided to write one. I sat down in front of the fire with my little typewriter on my knee (no word processors in 1972) and began to write about a young man climbing a mountain for a fateful meeting with a witch. I ran out of ideas after two pages and got on with my life instead. It stuck with me, though, and I returned to it decades later. A much changed version of it now forms the opening of my novel, 'Usurper'.

I retired from teaching in 2003. I had continued to write in the interim period, and even produced a completed book - now lost, sadly - as well as writing plays that were performed in schools. It was then that I decided to take the bull by the horns and see whether I really was capable of writing a good book.
What's the story behind your latest book?
'Larussi's Heartsong' is the fourth book of the trilogy, 'A Queen's Heart'. As a trilogy cannot have four parts, it is to be billed as the Appendix. If it was good enough for Tolkien, it is good enough for me. The final part of 'A Queen's Heart' - 'The Power of Four Queens' - brought the story arc to a close, but left one thread hanging. Poor Larussi, isolated in a foreign land, alone and heartbroken, has her own destiny to fulfil. 'Heartsong' is, essentially, her story. I had the idea for it while working on 'The Power of Four Queens'. It was obvious to me that there was a further tale to be told. At first, I thought it would be a novella, rather than a full-length novel - more of a footnote to the series than a stand-alone book. This, however, is proving to be an inaccurate assumption. As I write this, it is looking like 'Heartsong' will be as long, and as rich, as its precursors.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Put simply, the established publishers didn't want to know. I tried for years without success. I knew in my heart that my work was good enough. All that was required was for somebody to have faith in me. That never transpired. More than half of the publishers and literary agents to whom I submitted work did not even bother to reply. Those that did turned me down flat. It was patently obvious from the condition of the returned submissions that they had not even looked at them. I had not been turned down because my work wasn't good enough. They simply couldn't be bothered to give me a chance.

That was why I published myself. I have no regrets.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords puts me out on every electronic medium available. I progress every day. Each step takes me a little closer to my goal of being an established, successful independent author with a catalogue of books that are sought after by readers. When I achieve that goal - and I will - my work will be available to everyone with an e-reading device, regardless of what it is.

Smashwords also helps me to promote and refine my work. It has a community of mutually-supportive writers and the founder, Mark Coker, is quite prepared to answer queries himself. How many other CEOs will do that?
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Seeing the book develop from the vaguest kernel of an idea into a fully-fledged novel. None of us knows just how much we have locked away in our brains until, we get in there and start rummaging about. When I sat in front of the fire with my typewriter on my knee that February night, I did not seriously believe that I would ever complete a novel - yet now I am writing my eleventh, and the other ten are all recording sales every day. Nobody knows what they are really capable of until they try. It is hard work. It is often frustrating - even dispiriting. Every so often, however, the Muse remembers that she does like me after all and something magical happens. The best passage in the entire book just seems to write itself.
What are you working on next?
When 'Larissi's Heartsong' is finished, I intend to work on an anthology of short stories. I already have four, which were originally published as part of Suzy Stewart Dubot's New Writers Block venture on Smashwords. These will form the core of my anthology, but, as yet, I have no idea of what the others will be.
Published 2014-05-30.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Rutter's Resolution
Series: Rutter Books. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,980. Language: British English. Published: December 6, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Crime thriller
D.C.I. Julie Rutter investigates the theft of a major artwork, only to discover that the case will include multiple murders and spread right across Europe.
Relapse
Series: Rutter Books, The Third Rutter Book. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 93,640. Language: English. Published: May 7, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Police Procedural, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
Months on from the dramatic shootout on Box Hill, D.C.I. Julie Rutter's nemesis is due to be sentenced at the Old Bailey. That will see him out of her life forever and a glowing future with Alex spread out before her. Or will it? Nothing is quite as it seems in this new thriller as Julie's past comes back to haunt her yet again, and places her life, as well of those of the people she loves.
Rutter's Reunion
Series: Rutter Books, The Second Rutter Book. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,980. Language: British English. Published: July 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths
Years have passed since Julie Rutter faced a modern-day Jack The Ripper, in 'Chained in Time'. Now she returns to Bow Road Police Station, as Chief Inspector Rutter, to find herself investigating three murders, all committed with the same weapon, but not by the same killer. Little is as it seems. Even her reasoning is in doubt, as a deeper and yet more sinister motive emerges.
Chained in Time
Series: Rutter Books, The First Rutter Book. Price: Free! Words: 94,210. Language: British English. Published: July 26, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » General
(4.50)
In 1888, a serial killer, Jack the Ripper, prowls London's East End. A century later, History repeats itself. Marie Kelly is haunted by horrifying dreams in which she is pursued through the gloomy alleyways of Victorian Whitechapel by a dark shadow that seeks to destroy her, as it once did her near-namesake, Mary Jane Kelly. Marie experiences Mary's terror and despair as her own. The two
The Planning Officers
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 69,870. Language: British English. Published: July 23, 2012. Categories: Fiction » Humor & comedy » Satire
Lift the roof off the Town Hall and take a wry look inside. Anna Maria Aitcheson and Dirc Starkey are so absorbed in their careers and each other that they never consider the community they are employed to serve. Follow them through one stormy day, which begins with glory beckoning, if they can only bundle one insignificant citizen out of the way first...