David Griffiths


David Griffiths was born in 1954 in a small mining town in South Yorkshire, England. He moved to Colchester in 1976, to attend the University of Essex.

He first had the idea to write the Acme Time Travel books way back in 1993, scribbling notes on his train journeys to London. At about that same time he was fortunate enough to read a piece of advice in a literary journal; advice which rang so true to him that he typed it out and pinned it to his bedroom wall. He would wake up each morning and read the words out aloud. They said:-

When you get an idea ... an idea for a book, don’t rush it. Let it mature. Give yourself time ... time to get some context. Get married. Have kids. Watch them grow up. Join a blues band. Work with charities. Above all ... don’t rush it.

In 2017 David’s wife one day said, “You know that joke you’ve got pinned to the bedroom wall?”

“Eh?” David replied unsurely.

“You know ... the one about joining a blues band,” she explained, then continuing, “Well, how’s about we take it down and put up a nice picture instead?”

His wife’s comments gave David pause for thought. With some trepidation he Googled Milt, the author of his typed quote, and, on finding an email address, he wrote a brief letter. Some days later, David came home and noticed that a voice-mail was waiting for him. He played it. The message said:-

“Hey Dave, it’s Milt here. I got your email. I gather that you took my advice ... way back in 1993, and I gather that you ...”

David could hear a woman’s voice in the background. David turned up the volume on the phone and scrolled the message back a second or two. The woman was saying “... for God’s sake, Milt. What sort of fuck-wit buys into some tongue-in-cheek drivel you poured out into a college mag? You were only trying to pay for your fucking tuition, and then this guy bases his entire life strategy around ...”

“Can it, Muriel,” the male voice cut back in, then, “sorry about that, Dave. It’s nice that you ... well ... that you took it so seriously.”

“Too fucking seriously,” the woman cut in again.

The message went quiet. David thought he could hear some sort of conversation going on, but it was too low for him to make out any words clearly, then,

“Anyway, Dave,” the male voice continued. “I reckon you’ve probably mulled over your idea for long enough now. Maybe now’s the time to get on with it.”

The message went silent again, and David thought that was it, but then, perhaps as an afterthought:-

“Oh ... and Dave. Since you seem to like pinning things on your bedroom wall, why not give these ideas a try:-

Remember, you are responsible for your own life.
You only get the one shot, so just get on with it ... as best as you can.
Don’t accept any wooden nickels.
Just get the flock on with it.”

David thought then that the message had finally ended for real, but for no reason he could explain, he turned up the volume again and there ... just before the message settled down into a low-level hiss, right there, very low, very hesitant, three words, “I’m sorry Dave.”

David played it back again, this time taking care to write down Milt’s parting words (but not the apology). Then he typed them up and printed them out onto a nice clean sheet of A4 paper, which he then carefully laminated. Later, as he took down the yellowing sheet containing Milt’s original words (he hoped his wife would be pleased with him), and tacked up its replacement, he noticed that MS Word’s spell-check feature had changed the word ‘flock’.

He smiled. He thought it added emphasis to Milt’s words of wisdom.

PS In case you are wondering . . . I really did have the idea for the Acme Time Travel book years ago, and made two abortive attempts to complete it. Each time I got stuck. Then I laid it to one side (for ages). During this time I really did watch my two sons grow up (I'm very proud of both of them) and I really did join a blues band (called the Intermission Blues Band), which gave me the idea for the Milt story above. Then about three years ago I picked up the Acme idea again, and realised that I had got stuck because I had not flushed out the back-story with enough detail, nor had I fully tied down the intricate chronology. I then spent months working through the back-story (which effectively comprises the "Journal of Intergalactic Mining / Transhipment" mentioned in the Acme books). Having completed that, I was overjoyed to find that I could place my list of characters on to that flushed out back-story and they suddenly came to life. It is moments like that which bring you true pleasure.

Smashwords Interview

What is your writing process?
I think my biog on the Smashwords web-site tells it all. I get an idea for a story; I crash headlong along with it; I get stuck and put it down (for ages); I come back to it again; I get stuck again; I realise that I never fleshed out the back-story sufficiently to make the story-line work; I flesh out the back-story; I throw away my first two drafts; I start again and complete it . . . and I get absolute joy from the moment that I realise that my characters are enjoying it as well. I guess it happens with all writers, but there is a point where you don't need to fabricate the character dialog. The characters have made the story their own. They tell you what they want to say. At that point, I start to write each new chapter with a genuine excitement. I know (broadly) what is going to happen in that chapter, but I don't know precisely what the characters will say or even what decisions they will make. It is as though they are dictating to me and I am just writing it down for them. It feels exhilarating. Alright, it does mean that I have had to make some plot changes along the way (when they have picked a route I did not originally anticipate) but I don't see that as a chore at all. I am excited watching their journey.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love it when the plot is (largely) nailed and you insert the characters (who begin to traverse the plot) and you find that fantastic moment when you don't have to consciously think up what the characters should say anymore . . . they have fleshed themselves out. They exist in their own right. The characters begin to narrate what they want you to write for them. You start to write a new chapter and you look forward to what they will do, and especially when you envisaged them coming to a point where a decision has to be made . . . take option A or B . . . and the characters come up with option C (which you had never envisaged when you were devising the plot). Absolutely marvellous.
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