Author Interviews

* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Author interview no.224: Dave Sivers (revisited)


Back in December 2011, I interviewed author Dave Sivers for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the two hundred and twenty-fourth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with crime, fantasy and horror writer Dave Sivers. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. You can also read Dave’s author spotlight. Dave and I can talk for England so you might like to find a comfortable chair and settle in for the duration. :)
Morgen: Hello, Dave. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Dave: I know it’s a bit of a cliché for a writer to say they’ve been writing all their lives, but it’s pretty well true of me.  My parents always read to me as a small child, and I was already able to read and in love with stories by the time I started school.  Almost as soon as I could form letters, I was writing down my own stories, although to be honest, I don’t think they were all that original in those days.
Somewhere along the line I started seeking publication and, by the mid-nineties, I was writing freelance stuff for local papers and magazines.  In the same decade, I also began gaining some prizes and publication with short stories.  My first published e-novel, A Sorcerer Slain, hit the virtual bookshelves this year.
Morgen: Not a cliché at all, I’d say about half the interviewees have said the same. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Dave: My work tends to be either crime or ‘speculative fiction’ (fantasy/horror) but often, as with Sorcerer and its planned sequels (I call them ‘crime fantasy’), it can straddle the genres.  I have also had a go at family sagas, and my first published short story was a piece of chick lit in Take a Break magazine under the pen name ‘Melanie Blake’.
Morgen: I have over 3,000 stories pulled from magazines but sadly not that one (that would have been funny!), although I might have it if it was in a Fiction Feast which I have, intact, going back to 2005 as I subscribe to it and haven’t had the heart to blitz them. What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first book on the shelves?
Dave: Most of my published work has been non-fiction, including a series on True Crime in Buckinghamshire for Four Shires magazine.  I have had short stories published in anthologies and magazines. Seeing my first published book on the Amazon website was a real buzz - but I also vividly remember being on holiday in Devon when the issue of Take a Break containing my first published short story came out.  My wife and I stood in Torquay’s W H Smith seeing my story on the pages of a national magazine.  We bought half a dozen copies and told all our family and friends, probably boosting the magazine’s circulation overall by a couple of dozen that week.
Morgen: I was the same with Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special. I said to the cashier – I’m in this… not at all impressed. I was quite restrained at three copies although I did buy a couple more a few days later (from another shop). How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Dave: I recognised some years ago that the reality of writing is that most writers have to do as much marketing self-promotion as they can, and I do treat my work as a brand.  The reality these days is that publishers can only afford a decent publicity budget for their top names, and so self-promotion is essential. I started my website, and its associated newsletter, in 2007 to showcase my work and engage with potential readers.  My newsletter circulation has grown steadily and, since publishing Sorcerer,I have added social networking to my marketing toolbox.  I take every available opportunity to do talks and guest blogs, and I also issue press releases to promote my work and activities.
Morgen: And blog interviews. :) You mentioned prizes earlier, can you tell us a bit more about that and do you think competitions help with a writer’s success?
Dave: My short stories have won prizes in both local and national competitions, and I have been shortlisted in a Writers News competition.  I won a small competition earlier this month, for a story inspired by the August riots.  Competing against other writers and winning is always a great feeling.  I think every success builds a writer’s confidence and adds credibility to their writing CV.
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s recognition by a peer. Do you write under a pseudonym? Do you think they make a difference to an author’s profile?
Dave: The only time I have used a pseudonym was when I was trying my hand at women’s magazine fiction.  I thought, rightly or wrongly, that a female name would appeal more than a male name, and so ‘Melanie Blake’ was born.  I’m not sure now that I was right, and I haven’t used her anywhere else, but I’m sure the idea of a 6ft 3in guy being published under such a girlie name adds a bit of colour to my public persona.
Morgen: :) Maybe she’ll appear again. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Dave: I had an agent for a short while many years ago, but suffice to say, I chose poorly. Nowadays, the mainstream publishing industry has reached the point where it is almost impossible for an author to succeed there without an agent.  Being plucked from the publisher’s slush pile and winning a contract does occasionally happen – as do Lottery wins.  For new authors, being taken on by an agent is now almost as tough, because the business is so competitive.  Agencies are overwhelmed these days by their own slush pile, and cannot afford to invest resources in more than one or two new clients a year. Although agents remain very important, I think the rise of eBooks and direct publication is changing the landscape of the publishing industry.  It is too soon to say where the e-revolution will finally lead, but my guess is that the filtering role agents play for physical books may be fulfilled in some measure for eBook authors by critics and bloggers who gain respected reputations as credible reviewers.  For eBook readers, an endorsement by a major e-critic will be what they look for to help them separate the good stories that they would like to read from the rest.
Morgen: I think it’ll definitely come down to reviews / ratings – an author can only have so many friends. You mentioned earlier that your book is available as an eBook, any other formats? What was your experience of the eBook process? And do you read eBooks?
Dave: My books are only available as eBooks, although I still prefer to read physical books myself.
Morgen: Me too. :)
Dave: I did my own formatting, and getting the hang of it was a bit frustrating at times, but anyone moderately IT literate and capable of following a guide should be able to do it with a little patience.  Once the book is out there, it’s all about marketing, marketing, marketing and being realistic about your initial expectations as you build your brand. I find the level of control you have as a direct publisher very satisfying.  The only obvious downside of being an eBook-only author is that you won’t be on the shelves at Waterstone’s.
Morgen: Until they start selling them on CD or memory sticks. :) The memory stick idea was mentioned by a panellist at last February’s Verulam Writers Circle’s ‘Get Writing’ Conference and I’m surprised that it’s not cottoned on as so many people must be browsing bookshops then going home to download or order online because it’s so much cheaper. Back to your book… did you have any say in the title of your books? How important do you think they are?
Dave: I think book titles are extremely important in grabbing reader attention, and I’m sure a good and appropriate title is all part of convincing the potential reader that it’s their kind of book.  As a direct publisher, I have complete say over content and packaging, including the title.  I am currently working on the third book in my ‘Lowmar Dashiel’ crime fantasy series, and am agonising over the right title for it.
Morgen: I’m a big title fan. There was a film trailer in the cinema the other day for a great film but a rubbish title… so rubbish that I can’t even remember it. Do any of your books have dedications? If so, to whom and (if appropriate) why?
Dave: My first book is dedicated to my wife, Chris, who has always supported me in everything I’ve done, including the hours I spend in my office writing at all hours.  She reads my manuscripts and always has invaluable insights that help me improve the product.
Morgen: Who designed your books’ covers?
Dave: A writer friend of mine put me onto Miss Mae, an excellent designer in the USA.  She is not only talented, but very patient and collaborative, listening to my ideas, but also advising on what will and won’t work.  I was delighted with what she did for Sorcerer, and she has recently designed the cover for the sequel, Inquisitor Royal.
Morgen: I’m an animation fan so would be Inquisitor Royal if I had to choose, which I don’t, thankfully. :) What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Dave: My first published piece was a letter to The Economist when I was in my twenties, and I still remember people at work coming up and asking if it was me. My first big success was the Take a Break story, and that was quite strange.  They mislaid the manuscript, so I had to send it again.  A couple of weeks later they sent me a rejection letter, but within a couple more days the fiction editor rang to say she wanted to buy it.  It seems the original manuscript had resurfaced, so they had two copies circulating.  One reader turned it down, but thankfully someone else liked it.  I spent the rest of that week in a daze. Finding that someone else likes your work is always a thrill, whether it’s a news item in the village newsletter or some positive feedback on a novel.
Morgen: I grin every time I get a review of my eBooks. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Dave: There are very few writers who’ve never known rejection.  It’s always disappointing, but you have to not take it personally.  The best rejections, if there is a good kind, are the ones that give you feedback.  Writing is a craft, and you’re constantly striving to be as good at it as you can, so any constructive criticism is invaluable.
Morgen: Definitely, it pushes onwards. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Dave: Inquisitor Royal, the sequel to A Sorcerer Slain, will be out soon, and I’m currently working on a novella in the same series.  I also have a mainstream crime novel as a work in progress.  Inevitable, there’s a supernatural element to it.
Morgen: Definitely keeping you out of mischief by the sound of it. Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Dave: I wear a lot of different hats in my life, which can be quite hectic at times.  But I probably write something most days.  Most I’ve written in a day?  Not sure – maybe around 8,000 words.
Morgen: Wow. This question may not apply to you then but what is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Dave: I don’t disbelieve those who say they suffer with writer’s block, although I don’t really suffer with it myself.  With me, it’s more a case of sometimes having what seems to be a great idea, but then nothing I put down on the page seems to be right.  What I do about it depends on whether I have the luxury of putting it in a drawer for a while, or even abandoning it – which I don’t always have.  But I’ve learned over the years that everything is fixable.  The best thing is to keep going and go back and give the rubbish a makeover later.
Morgen: I have lots of that. :) A question some authors dread: where do you get your inspiration from?
Dave: There’s no single answer to that.  The best way I can describe it is I either start with a couple of main characters and imagine them into a ‘what if?’ situation, or I imagine a situation and create the characters I need to facilitate the story.  I’m not quite sure where any of that comes from, but once I have a theme and know who will be acting out the story, scenes start coming into my head.
Morgen: Do you then plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Dave:  I usually have a strong idea of how the story starts and a rough idea of how it will end.  I fly most of the bits in the middle by the seat of my pants.  It can sometimes lead to some great sub-plots – but it can also produce that saggy-in-the middle feeling, and I attack that by making something happen – a bit like Raymond Chandler’s advice about having a man come through a door with a gun.  Sometimes that ‘something’ can produce an unexpected sub-plot or an important character you hadn’t even imagined at the start of the work.
Morgen: Ah yes, the saggy middle (I do know that feeling :)). Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Dave: I guess I start with a rough idea of their personality, and I like to work out a bit of back story that has helped to forge them into the person the reader is about to meet for the same time.  I don’t overdo this, as I want to be able to add to this where it’s convenient, but I do try to make my key characters three-dimensional.  I think the audience being able to recognise the type of character you’re presenting is essential to their credibility.
As for names, when I’m writing fantasy I try to use names that seem to fit the characters, and I have the luxury of inventing those names!  For mainstream fiction, I often work out when the character would have been born and check out what were the popular baby names at the time. There’s a rhythm to names and so the combination of first and second name – the number of syllables, and where the stresses on the syllables come – is all part of something that has to sound just right for the character when it rolls off the tongue.  Imagine if Sherlock Holmes had been called Bill Schwartz.
Morgen: Or ‘Sherlie’ as he’s called in the new movie version by our wonderful (and naked!) Stephen Fry. :) Do you write any non-fiction? If so, how do you decide what to write about?
Dave: I have done, and still do, some freelancing.  I write weekly columns about what’s going on in my community for two local newspapers, and have written many features for regional magazines.  Those articles can come from meeting an interesting person, or someone who has done something unusual – for example, I did a piece about a local man who built a life-sized replica section of a WW2 Lancaster bomber in his back yard. The True Crime in Buckinghamshire series was just something I fancied doing, blending my work on local interest with my enthusiasm for crime fiction – and luckily I got a commission for three articles.  It involved a fair bit of research, including visiting the sites of Victorian crime scenes, which I very much enjoyed.
Morgen: My aunt and uncle write about their town which is just over the border in Hertfordshire and it’s incredible how much history there still in (thankfully). You mentioned earlier that you write short stories, apart from the word count, what do you see as the differences between them and novels and why do you think they’re so difficult to get published?
Dave: I still enter the occasional short story competition, and I also publish about four short stories a year on my website. To answer the second part of your question first, they are increasingly hard to get published because there are fewer markets for them.  And publishers only seem interested in anthologies from established authors.  Once again, I suspect it’s about the competitiveness of the market, tightness of margins and, to a degree, risk aversion.  It’s heartening that many e-authors, including some quite big names, are putting out short stories, collections and novellas.
Turning to the first part of your question, the longer the story, the more room there is for character development, twists and turns and sub-plotting.  In a novel, you can have a good-sized cast of characters, whereas two three is usually sufficient in a 1,600-word story.  In 1,600 words or less, you have to get your reader instantly engaged with the central character, establish a conflict situation, and deliver a payoff.  Most of my short fiction has a twist in the tale, so there is a fair bit of trying to wrong-foot the reader in the space of a coffee break.
Morgen: Which is a good reason why Take a Break took your story. :) I love twist; Roald Dahl was a master. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Dave: I am an amateur theatre enthusiast, and I work with a loose collection of local actors to put on one or two productions.  It’s not a formal structure – if someone asks me to put something together and I think I can fit it in, I contact all my actors and see who’s interested.  I adapted and directed a murder mystery for a WI fundraiser in the summer, and have written and directed a couple of outdoor Nativity plays.  I have also co-written a couple of comedy plays, and I appeared in one of those in its first run. In addition, I do publicity / PR work for some local organisations.  It’s good to use a skill that I have to put something back into my community. I also belong to Chiltern Writers, an excellent writers’ group with a healthy membership drawn from all kinds of writing and a wide range of experience.  I’ve done two stints as Chair and can still be found at most of their monthly meetings.
Morgen: And I understand that the novelist (and interviewee 199 :)) Carole Matthews is involved, that must be fun. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Dave: I never show my work to anyone until I’m as happy with it as I can be.  I’d like to change the question slightly if I may, though.
Morgen: Of course.
Dave: I have a number of trusted friends with good instincts, any one of whom might be the first reader for a particular piece of work.  My wife Chris, though, is nearly always my last reader.  I advise aspiring writers not to show their work to family members who may not give an honest opinion or be prepared to be harsh enough in their criticism, or simply have a critical enough eye.  I break my own rule because Chris pulls no punches, is insightful, and always makes invaluable suggestions.
Morgen: Aspiring writers can show their work to my mother, she’s the harshest critiquer I know. :) Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Dave: I used to edit as I went along.  Nowadays, I plough on to the end, making notes to myself in the manuscript where I know I need to come back to something.  I will then put the work aside for a while before going back and redrafting until I’m as happy as I can be.  I’ve learned from experience that you reach a point where any more stirring of the pot will spoil the meal.
Morgen: You mentioned Victorian crime scenes earlier, how much research do you have to do for your writing? Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Dave: I do receive feedback, and I’m glad to say it’s mostly positive.  None of it so far has been research-related.  For the more mainstream stuff, I research as I go along, often finding experts on line and approaching them by e-mail.  People are usually delighted to share what they know. For fantasy, obviously a lot can be made up, but I still do research anything that relates to our world that needs to be accurate.  For example, there’s a scene in A Sorcerer Slain where the protagonist, Lowmar Dashiel, has to look through a load of parchment records, looking for clues.  I needed to check out what happens to parchment of different ages kept in certain conditions, and how it is normally stored, to make sure it felt authentic.
Morgen: Oh the joy of the internet. What’s your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Dave: I don’t really have a routine.  On a Sunday evening, I look at my commitments for the coming week and decide when my writing slots will be.  The next challenge is to chain myself to my desk and try to stay focused for the available time.  When I’m really in the zone, the time flies by and I’m oblivious to all potential distractions. Most of the ‘creative process’ happens when I’m not at my desk.  If I’m doing something that doesn’t require a great deal of thought, like digging my allotment, my mind will be in the story, planning what is going to happen next and how I will write it.  By the time I sit down to write, I’ve usually got a head full of stuff ready to be transferred to the page.
Morgen: You’re lucky you remember it all. You said “to the page”, do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Dave: I used to write longhand, but my handwriting’s so illegible now that I can barely make head nor tail of it myself.  I wrote on typewriters until I got my first computer, and can’t imagine using a pen now.
Morgen: I do every other Monday night and my poor brain goes much faster than my hand – we often run past the 10 minutes. I don’t think to stop people while they’re still scribbling. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Dave: I used to have music on, but nowadays it’s too distracting – I’d be listening to the track, and not to my muse.  I seem able to write with Radio 4 in the background, if it’s a programme I don’t want to miss.  If that’s a distraction, I won’t admit to it!
Morgen: :) What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Dave: It entirely depends on the story: I have no special preference.  The Lowmar Dashiel stories are first person, and that feels right for the noir-ish atmosphere I am trying to create.  My mainstream crime work in progress has two principal characters of equal standing, and I am also including scenes where neither of them is present, so third person allows me more viewpoints. As an experiment, I worked with a group of other writers a few years ago to see if we could create a collaborative novel.  The exercise has only been a qualified success, but we had multiple viewpoints and one of the writers narrated her character in the second person.  I realised that it can be a powerful alternative, and I have since used it myself in a couple of short stories.  It puts the reader in an uncomfortably close relationship to the character, and I like that.  The story has to be right for it, though.
Morgen: It does, which is why most of my writing (regardless of viewpoint) tends to be quite dark. Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Dave: I think they can be useful in some story structures – say, if the author wants to show an incident some time before or after the main events take place, or if the timeline jumps about.  They’re not really necessary if the events are related in a linear fashion, with everything happening in a fairly short space of time. I haven’t used them myself, but wouldn’t rule it out if it was right for the story.
Morgen: I never used to read them but have done since doing these interviews and with my latest read (‘A Winter’s Tale’ by Trisha Ashley) I’m so glad I did. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Dave: I’m sure all writers do!  But I keep hold of everything, just in case!
Morgen: Oh so do I. I cringe when writers say they shredded or deleted unwanted writing because who’s to say it won’t be wanted a week down the line. These days it’s easy to have different version numbers of a file just in case. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Dave: I still have this love of story and spinning yarns.  Most important of all is that people read them, and there’s nothing better than hearing that someone enjoyed something you wrote. Least favourite, I suppose, is when I’m in the zone and absolutely itching to carry on for another few hours, but another of those hats I wear in my life compels me to stop and give it some attention.
Morgen: Oh dear. Mine’s similar, I suppose. Best: creating something unexpected / worst: having too little time. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Dave: Writing is supposed to be a lonely business, and that’s obviously true of the actual writing process.  But joining a writers’ group almost 20 years ago opened my eyes to what a friendly, vibrant and supportive community we are, and that feeling has since been reinforced by going to writing conventions.  I’ve had a lot of help and advice over the years from fellow writers, and I try to give help to aspiring writers where I can.
Morgen: I belong to three writing groups (including my own) and they’re so different; they’re great. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Dave: Don’t just decide to be a particular type of writer from the get-go.  Try different disciplines and genres and see what suits you best.  I’ve had a go at plays, TV material, journalism, horror, fantasy, crime, family sagas and my crime fantasy hybrid.  It’s all been part of the learning curve, and it all hones your skills. Above all, if you really want to write, don’t let rejection put you off.  It’s not personal, it’s just part of the business you are in.  If you persist, you might not achieve your dream.  If you give up, you’re guaranteed not to.
Morgen: :) What do you like to read? Any authors you could recommend?
Dave: I would recommend Stephen King’s The Dark Tower septology to anyone – awesome fantasy on an epic scale.  Tess Gerritsen, Stephen Booth, John Harvey, Peter James, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid are all masters in the crime genre.  Try Stuart Neville’s supernatural thriller, The Twelve – you won’t be able to put it down
Morgen: My kind of reader. I’ve interviewed Stephen (no.158) and Mark (no.200) and Val is booked in for Christmas Day. I’ll have to put the others on the list. :) What do you do when you’re not writing?
Dave: We have an allotment on which I do the labouring, and I have a lot to do with my local community, including school governor, and being MC at the village fete.  I’m also involved in various theatre groups, including an opera group.  I mess around with guitars when I find the time, which is all too rare.
Morgen: It sounds like it. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Dave: Chris Longmuir’s guide to formatting for Kindle was invaluable to me, and it is great that she has shared her know-how with the rest of us.  Stephen King’s ‘memoir of the craft’, On Writing, is required reading for every writer.
Morgen: And many of them have recommended it. :) You’re based in the UK, do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Dave: To be honest, I haven’t thought about whether this helps or hinders.  Probably helps, because English is also read in the US.
Morgen: It is. We are lucky. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Dave: I’m on Twitter and Facebook and still getting to grips with it, to be honest.  I do like the opportunities they give for engaging with potential readers, and I’ve met some lovely new people.  It really won’t work, though, if you just make it about ‘Buy my book!’.
Morgen: Oh, I know. I’m probably the opposite and only even mention the freebies every now and then but the way to get defollowed on Twitter is to do nothing but tout.
Dave: It really is about building a network, and if some of the people you get to meet want to read your work, that’s great.
Morgen: It is. :) Where can we find out about you and your work?
Dave: My website is at www.davesivers.co.uk.  You can also follow me on Twitter @davesivers or find me on Facebook.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Dave: I think it’s a very exciting time for writers.  The eBook revolution is just phenomenal.  I don’t think the days of physical books are necessarily numbered, but the fact is that more and more people are buying e-readers and I am seeing more and more people reading with them. Coupled with direct publishing, that’s good news for writers, who are now able to get there work out there at little or no cost without having to battle their way past the usual hurdles.  I do think this will lead to writers who need to develop their craft a little more, or whose book needs further editing, to rush to publication too early, and there are already dire warnings, not only from the publishing industry and established writers, but also from e-authors, about where this will lead.
Morgen: I know of one author who’s not finished his first draft yet and is already looking at the eBook options, which I guess is fine if he’s going to get it professionally edited first.
Dave: My view is that it’s as important as it ever was to make your book the best it can be before thinking about publication.  Rushing out a bad book will do a writer’s reputation no good at all.
Morgen: Exactly. I think it’s best to have a few things ready and let readers try the free stuff first then decide whether you’re worth their hard-earned cash.
Dave: But in the main I think the e-revolution will settle down into whatever form of normality the book-buying public demands.  Whatever that looks like, I’m optimistic that the best writers will reap the best rewards.
Morgen: Absolutely. :) If you could have your life over again, is there anything you’d have done differently (writing-related or otherwise)?
Dave: I have no real regrets to look back on, but maybe I should have been less naive in my twenties, when I took rejection too much to heart…
Morgen: Taking rejections to heart is easy at any age.
Dave: …and maybe gave up on a couple of books sooner than I should have.
Morgen: But you’ve still got them though, yes? :) Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Dave: I know you’ve recently been doing some e-Booking, Morgen.  How was it for you?
Morgen: Fairly painless actually. I went with Smashwords to start with because their style guide is 70+ pages. It’s only that long because it’s so thorough and user-friendly so me being a semi-techno nerd sailed through it in a matter of hours. I now have the shell as a Word document so can just copy / paste the content in, do a few tweaks and upload it to the site. The first couple went up within minutes, another took about 3 hours but it depends on how many is being uploaded at the same time. Both were around the same time on the same day (a week apart) so just pot luck really, but even so, 3 hours is nothing. I’m yet to try Amazon and seeing as their KDP Select demands 90 days exclusivity I’ve decided to be choosy about what I put up, so watch this space. :) Thank you so much Dave, great to have you back.
I then invited Dave to include an extract of his writing and this is from ‘A Sorcerer Slain’…
A shadow fell upon me and I looked up to see the brown-robed sorcerer standing over me.    His face was grim.
“We warned him, you know.  We all warned him, and now look.” 
He gestured at the corpse as if no further words were needed.  I rose slowly, turning to Boxen, who stood silent at my elbow.
“Who is this?”
“Uh, Bezenar. Sorcerer of the First -”
“I can see what he is.  And I’ve heard the name.  The question is, why does he apparently have the freedom of the place?”
“As I said,” Boxen’s unlovely features flushed, “you try...”
“Telling a First Grader he can’t come in,” I finished for him.  “Right.”
“As a matter of fact,” Bezenar interrupted, “I was one of the first on the scene here.”
“Were you now?”
“Ysette - that’s Carnen’s housekeeper - came to the Tower as soon as she discovered the body.”  He shrugged.  “I took charge until the Militia arrived.”
I pushed a hank of hair back from my face.  “I don’t understand.  Zarna’s Carnen’s heir, isn’t she?  Why wasn’t she summoned?”
He gave another shrug.  “I suppose Ysette came to me because I am – was” – a shadow flitted across his face – “one of Carnen’s closest friends.  And then I didn’t think bringing Zarna was a good idea.  It was obvious she’d be suspected.”
I gave him a hard look.  “Why obvious? “
He spread his palms.  “She’s the only one with the means and the motive to have done this.”
Dave Sivers grew up in West London, England, leaving school at 16 to start a successful civil service career. Over the years, he has gained a First Class Honours degree from the Open University and moonlighted as, among other things, a night club bouncer, a bookmaker’s clerk and a freelance writer.  His published work includes short fiction, magazine articles and newspaper columns, and he has also found some success with stage and TV material. Since taking early retirement from the day job, he has devoted more time to his writing, which includes both crime fantasy and mainstream crime fiction.  His short mainstream crime can be sampled on his website, and his crime fantasy novel, A Sorcerer Slain, introducing personal inquisitor Lowmar Dashiel, is available as an e-book at the Amazon Kindle Store, Smashwords, Barnes & Noble and all good e-book stores. You can also read his author spotlight.

Update August 2012: The second Lowmar Dashiel mystery, Inquisitor Royal, was published in January 2012 and the third in the series,Songs of Sorrow, is planned for release in time for Christmas 2012.
***
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know. :) You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at SmashwordsSony Reader StoreBarnes & NobleiTunes BookstoreKobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me.  I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.

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