An Interview with David Gatward .
Author of the exciting new horror trilogy for younger readers;
The Dead, The Dark and The Damned.
David kindly agreed to answer some questions about his books and his love of horror movies.
Enjoy the interview and then get out there and buy the books….
KBW: Are you a big Clive Barker fan? I wondered, as the first appearance of Red and his flesh being added to his flayed body I thought as a tribute of sorts to Frank Cotton in The Hellbound Heart and the Hellraiser movies.
DG: Yeah, I’m a fan. The Damnation Game, and The Hellbound Heart are tremendous. The Books of Blood are equally great. Barker has a real lyrical touch to his writing, and a darkness that few can match. Were that my mind were as fertile! And the movie ‘Hellraiser’ was one of those movies that really made me sit up and go, “Wow! Horror rocks!” I just love all the hidden agendas of the characters, and the backstories, and the fact that the monsters don’t just turn up and mash people up and then disappear, but that they’ve something behind it all, a motivation, but a humanity, too. And I love that scene in Hellraiser where Frank Cotton rebuilds himself from drops of blood. Amazing stuff! I wanted that kind of thing, that kind of vivid picture, and I loved the idea of a creature pushing itself through that amount of pain on purpose.
DG: Yep, was always planned as such. Couldn’t do it as a one-off. Thing is, as I’ve been writing it, the story’s got bigger in that I can see how it’ll go beyond three. Obviously this sequence concludes. It has to; there’s a lot in it to bring to an end. And Lazarus needs closure if he’s to do anything else, as do the other characters. So I’ve got ideas for a further three, and would ultimately love to do nine. Fingers crossed…
KBW: Do you have plans worked out for what you will do next, after this trilogy has all been published and your publicity trail for all three is complete?
DG: I’ve a lot on all over the place so I’m just busy throughout really. I’m doing something as part of the schools events for the Bath Children’s Literature Festival this year, I’ve got a book tour being put together at the minute to support the launch of The Dark, and I want to do as many library and school events as I can, get out and meet people and that kind of stuff. While all that’s going on, I’m heavily in to a ghost writing deal that I have with another publisher, which is pretty intense, and I’m developing a number of other ideas and projects. There’s no way I can just look at The Dead as the way to make it; I need to keep coming up with stuff, getting ideas developed and then bought by publishers. It’s a risky business and I’m lucky to be in it at all. But the only way I can seriously make it work is to just keep working and never depend on one project as ‘the one’ if you know what I mean. Mind you, it would be great if The Dead really did do brilliantly. And feedback is great so far…
DG: I write from between eight and nine in the morning to mid-afternoon Mon-Thurs, and all of Friday, looking after our two lads when I’m not working. I work some evenings most weeks. I share an office with my wife, which is just two minutes from our house, so that’s great and means I’m not in the house being disturbed! Once I’m in to the actual writing of a book I get annoyed with myself if I do less than 4000 words in a day. And if I can, I try and grab a few solid days of intense writing to really crack on. I listen to Doomed on somaFM, which is an internet radio show playing really dark, atmospheric stuff. Though I do often write in total silence. And there’s all the other stuff to do as well like planning ideas, revising synopses, rewriting, editing, thinking about events…
KBW: Have you thought of any actors/actresses as you’ve written the characters, or have anyone in mind that you’d think would suit if given the film treatment?
DG: Directors… Jake West (Evil Alien), Neil Marshall (Dog Soldiers) and Zack Snyder (300). Not forgetting Rob Zombie (Devil’s Rejects). I’d love to see my acting mate, Lex Shrapnel, in a movie of my stuff (he was in various stuff, including K19 The Widowmaker, Thunderbirds, Flyboys and the recent Channel 5 remake of Minder. He’s done stacks of theatre stuff too and is just brilliant and is currently reading The Dead!) Other acting types… Sean Pertwee and Bill Paxton; both are just brilliant.
DG: This changes a lot I think! Whichever writer I’m reading is my favourite! So it’s better to give the names of those I really rate: Jack Ketchum (The Lost); Gary Braunbeck (Mr Hands); HP Lovecraft (too many to mention!); Clive Barker (The Hellbound Heart); Max Brooks (World War Z);
KBW: What are your favourite horror films/directors?
DG: Films: Suspiria; May; Devil’s Rejects; City of the Dead; Evil Dead; HellRaiser; 30 Days of Night; Black Sabbath; The Shining; The Crow (though is this horror? Don’t know!), Aliens; Event Horizon, Martin… There’s plenty more… far too many, actually. Directors? Well, I’ve named three above, but there’s Dario Argento (hit and miss, I know, but great anyway), Romero, Rob Zombie…
KBW: Have you met Darren Shan? Do you read his work or that of others in this genre, such as Charlie Higson?
DG: Nope, I’ve never met Darren Shan. The only connection we have is that Mel Grant did the covers for Darren’s stuff and The Dead. That’s it! I’m getting lots of “is gatward the new shan” stuff, but I guess that was bound to happen, even though our stuff is very different. I’ve only read Cirque de Freak and Lord Loss. Not checked any of Charlie’s stuff, though I’ve met him briefly at a party and am working with one of his old editors on something completely different to what I’m doing now. I do read others in the genre, but I’m generally reading adult fiction at the minute. Derek Landy is great and definitely worth checking out.
DG: The thought that I could fail at this and the notion of getting to the end of my life and thinking, ‘If only…’
KBW: What are you most looking forward to at Frightfest this year? What is your involvement there? And have you been going for many years – back to the days of Fantasm on the South Bank perhaps?
DG: In all honesty, just being there will be a total blast and I can’t wait! From what I’ve been told, I’m doing a signing I think, though nothing’s confirmed. This is the first time for me (my mate lex was in a movie that premiered at FrightFest back in the early 2000s) so I’m just pretty stoked about turning up and joining in. Should be a blast.
KBW: Running zombies or slow zombies?
DG: Slow as it builds the tension more on screen. (Everyone should read World War Z by Max Brooks; it’s astonishing.)
KBW: Werewolves or vampires?
DG: I’m tired of vampires. Never really liked them anyway. Always so bothered about how they look, being cool and moody and sexy. Werewolves though; they’re just brutal. So… werewolves it is. American Werewolf and Dog Soldiers? Oh yes… We need more like that. And I’ve an idea knocking around that I might flesh out that’s kind of werewolves. Dunno. But not vampires. Unless it’s 30 Days of Night; loved that. Vampires can be brilliant, but have been kinda damaged by their association with teenagers and their repressed sexuality. Pity.
I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series as soon as they are unleashed.
Keith B Walters