Sunday, August 17, 2014

Writer Spotlight - Dan Holloway

On Coffee and Roses I like to bring you news of exciting authors who are either waiting to be published or published and worth checking out.

This week, I have great pleasure in welcoming the fantastic author, poet and performer DAN HOLLOWAY into the Coffee and Roses Writer Spotlight...

When did you first decide that you wanted to write?

I don't know that I ever decided to be a writer. It was one of those things that always seemed to be taken for granted. My parents bought me an old wooden school desk as my third birthday and I'd sit at it late into the night scribbling nonsense, And when I was six my mum told me one evening that a gypsy had stopped her in the street, telling her that she had a son and he would grow up to make his fortune with pen and ink. I still haven't made my fortune!

What interests you as a writer?

I am fascinated by outsiders: people who find it hard to define themselves by terms that society understands and go about life by their own rules. It's a way of exploring all the things I wish I could be if only I had the courage.

Do you have a typical writing day? If not, when is the best time to write for you?

Absolutely not. My very best writing time is as early as it gets in the morning - I've always been a lark. By the time it gets to 8 o'clock or so, I've pretty much had it for the day. That said, I do love sitting outside on a busy pavement, leaning against a wall with a coffee on a sunny day, tapping away while the world goes by.

Which authors inspire you and why?

So many - I hate when those Facebook "10 writers who've left their mark on you" memes go round - how could I keep it down to 10? So how do I answer this in a sensible length? OK - Haruki Murakami has perfected the art of using the fantastical to represent a deep truth; Thomas Harris never uses a spare word; Elfriede Jelinek gets deeper inside relationships than you could imagine; Milan Kundera makes me see the world in different ways; Katelan Foisy breaks my heart; Adelle Stripe and Banana Yoshimoto make the everyday lyrical and beautiful.

Tell me about your latest book.

No Exit, released in May, is a big departure from my recent literary novels and poetry collections. It's a novelette, part of the Singles collection from the amazing Pankhearst group who publish the darkest Fem Noir. It's going to be the start of what I hope will be a long-running series about Petrichor, a group of outsiders who inhabit the doorways and rooftops and tunnels of Oxford - not to mention the corner of cyberspace. In No Exit, two women who have never met and know nothing about each other are about to commit a murder together, and we go back in time to discover what brought them to this point.

What are the best things about being a writer?

The thought that, one day, you might make a difference, even if only to one person; that one night someone might be alone and at the end of the line and your words might be the hand held out that brings them back from the edge.

And the worst?

Never quite being able to write the things you want to. So many people say they never self-censor. By and large they are people with very vanilla imaginations. Readers still find it too hard to separate the author as person from the things they write, so there inevitably comes a time when you pull a punch, and that hits you right in the gut because you know you are letting your readers down. It's something I battle with every book. No Exit is the darkest thing I've written. It goes places a lot of people never go but there are still things left unsaid, emotions I haven't let the characters explore.

What are you working on now?

Crush is the second Petrichor book. It centres on Keph, whose middle class comfortable life is turned on its head when she finds herself on the wrong bus home, witnesses a horrific act of cruelty and flips, battering the two teenage boys responsible to death, having just seconds to make a decision that will change her life - to run.

Do you have a dream project you would love to write?

I'm as much a performance poet as a prose writer - I've been taking shows to festivals and fringes for five years now, and have worked with some amazing people. I think my dream would be to put on a show with Patti Smith and Amanda Palmer.

What are your top three tips for aspiring writers?

I've just written a book, Self-Publish With Integrity, that aims to guide writers through the labyrinth of choices that face them. The real question I try to get them to answer is a simple one – know exactly what they want from their writing, in ultra-specific terms. That's the only way to be sure you don't get sidetracked.

More specifically writing-y advice – know exactly what the writers you admire do. And then do something different.

And devote ten times longer than you think you need to learning to write dialogue.

Anything else you’d like to say?

Go to a live literary night. Perform your work there. And, of course, thank you!

Thanks to Dan for a cracking interview! You can find out more about Dan and his books at his website and follow him on Twitter @agnieszkasshoes. Also check out his fantastic novel, Songs from the Other Side of the Wall.


Liz Tipping said...

I love Dan's book "Self Publish with Integrity" and would recommend it for anyone whether they want to self publish or not. Some great tips in there! Fab post!

Liz Tipping said...

I love Dan's book "Self Publish with Integrity" and would recommend it for anyone whether they want to self publish or not. Some great tips in there! Fab post!

Dan Holloway said...

Thank you!!

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