Interview with Haydn Wilks

Who are your favorite authors?
I a wide range of stuff, but I especially like writers with a hard edge or some darkness to their work. Two of the first authors I got really into were Chuck Palahiniuk and Bret Easton-Ellis. Other favorite authors include everyone from James Joyce and Dostoevsky to Jack Kerouac and Charles Bukowski. More recently, I've really gotten into reading stuff by Murakami, and the last book I finished was Jean-Paul Sartre's 'The Age of Reason', which I really enjoyed.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The necessity of earning a living! Beyond that, we've got a limited time to live, it doesn't make sense to spend too much of it sleeping. Although that last thought isn't always successful in getting me going in the mornings...
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Eating, drinking, going to gigs, watching movies, reading, walking - I live in Seoul and I'm a big fan of urban exploration, setting off in a random direction and wandering through this massive city.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
It can't have been the first, but I remember having Charles Dickens' 'Great Expectations' read to us at school. It was such an epic story, told over a long time-span. I'm not sure of any specific impact it had on me but it's the first time I remember being really engrossed and amazed by a book.
How do you approach cover design?
I've got a very talented friend, Jack Skivens, who designs all of my book covers. Anyone who's interested in obtaining his services should head to www.deadbirdpress.com/jack !
What are your five favorite books, and why?
It's a tough question, and I'm sure my answers will be different every time I'm asked, but right now I'd go with:

James Joyce - Ulysses
So ludicrously ambitious and unlike anything else. I spent a whole semester studying it at university, and without a professor guiding us through it chapter-by-chapter, I don't know I'd have a clue what's going on! But it's a mind-blowing work all the same.

Milan Kundera - The Unbearable Lightness of Being
The way it switches between the story and philosophical musings about life and art makes this unlike anything else I've read. Each of the characters either believe life is something heavy and massively important, or something light and fleeting and ultimately inconsequential. The way it explores those two opposing ideas is really interesting.

Jack Kerouac - Maggie Cassidy
'On the Road' gets all the attention, but Kerouac has a bunch of books that have greater emotional impact, for me, than his USA-traveling classic. 'Big Sur' is about alcoholic meltdown and isolation, and a close contender for the Kerouac spot on the last, but 'Maggie Cassidy' has a unique perspective in that its written about his high school sweetheart, but told some years later. It climaxes with him seeing her again a while after he'd broken up with her and move to New York for university, and it's very real and portrays his development in a very honest and negative light.

John Williams - Cardiff Dead
I feel John Williams is an author who doesn't get nearly as much attention as he deserves. This book is the most accurate portrayal of Cardiff I've seen in print, and its full of completely believable characters. Similarly to 'Maggie Cassidy', it shows character's relationships in their youth and then years later. In this case, the central characters were in a briefly-successful ska band in the '70s. Their lives have moved on, and they reconnect over one person they knew's sudden death. A really good read.

Oscar Wilde - The Picture of Dorian Grey
A classic and with good reason. Wilde is such a consistently hilarious writer, and this book remains endlessly quotable long after it was written. One thing that might surprise new readers is that the actual painting in the title takes a backseat in the story to a long conversation reflecting upon then-modern society and its obsessions.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Caerphilly, Wales. It's a huge and obvious influence on my first novel, 'The Death of Danny Daggers', as the book's set ten miles down the road in Cardiff!

It's had a more general impact on everything I write, mainly in the way I deal with character's dialects. If you travel ten miles in any direction from Caerphilly you'll be in Cardiff or Newport, with their own very distinct accents, or you'll be in a random part of the South Wales valleys, every town of which has its own distinct version of Valleys dialect. So I think it's made me take notice of different accents and hopefully capture them well in my work.
When did you first start writing?
I've written for as long as I can remember. I guess the first thing I remember writing is a story about a hammerhead shark when I was in my first year of school.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is Americosis and it's about a bunch of crazy happenings occur simultaneously at different places around America. There's a sexually transmitted disease in New York City that's propelling its victims to infect others, burning them out in the process. A naked guy shows up in New Mexico, claiming he's come from the future to save America. And a Presidential candidate is speaking to angels. Whether he's crazy or if the apocalypse is actually imminent is going to be revealed as the series progresses!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
It seemed way more attractive to me to publish books myself and get them out to the public immediately, rather than submit them to publishers and wait ages to receive a probable rejection letter. And even if the books were accepted for publication, it would still mean waiting a year or more until they saw the light of day.

I'm a big fan of punk and hardcore bands, and the D.I.Y. attitude of that scene is definitely something I'm carrying over into the way I approach writing.
Published 2015-07-18.
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