On Wednesdays on social media, people use the hashtag #WriterWednesday to chat about all things author, book and writing, including authors promoting their own work. As we love to support self-published authors, we thought we’d join in and we will be featuring a UK self-published author every Wednesday on the website. This week, we met David Dunham to find out more...
When did you first become interested in writing?
I’m a little uncertain about a date, or even age, though I expect it was at some point during primary school. We were often tasked with writing stories or penning our holiday memories. I do recall the thrill of writing with a sharp pencil on lines that I had drawn with my favourite ruler, and attempting some form of a narrative that would interest my teacher. In more recent times, a keenness for writing gestated during university, dragged its heels for a while and then woke up a few years ago. One hopes it remains bright-eyed.
Do you remember the first story you wrote?
Allow me to return to primary school and an adventure story. I can’t recall what happened, though I remember my teacher raising an eyebrow at reading the opening, which was ‘Hello.’ My first ‘proper’ story was attempted in university and is lying around somewhere on a floppy disc, unfinished, yet patient for attention. I may listen to the call one day.
What genre do your books fall under?
My novel The Silent Land falls within historical fiction, though it can quite easily edge its way into others, for example, I’ve been informed it is most definitely literary fiction. The novel I am currently writing, The Legend of Caradoc, falls within the fantasy/adventure genre and is for early teens and the adults among us who wish to prod their imagination every now and then.
What is your latest book called? What is it about?
The Silent Land is set between 1903 and 1919 in England, predominately in Worcestershire, with other chapters in the Fens. It is the story of Rebecca Lawrence who when she believed joy had come into her life, learns the truth about how her mother died years before. Her marriage to her first love and motherhood pulls her back from resentment, but when her husband is sent to fight in the First World War she is forced to pursue the truth once again.
What was the inspiration behind it?
There is no singular inspiration. I wished to write a book that would leave the reader with a sense of how futile war can be, and how it can corrupt young people. I also wished to acknowledge part of the First World War that outside of the city and county I grew up in has attracted little attention. The Battle of Gheluvelt of October, 1914 was acknowledged at the time as being a battle in which the men of Second Battalion of the Worcestershire Regiment ‘Saved the British Empire’. It features towards the end of The Silent Land, though I’ll resist expanding on what place it holds in the narrative. I wouldn’t want to irritate future/present readers yet to reach the plot developments.
Besides your current book, do you have any projects coming up?
The Legend of Caradoc is my current book. At the time of writing, I am half way through the first draft. It is the story of Jack Caradoc, a sixteen-year-old Cornish boy who travels to a different world to destroy the evil his ancestors had defeated centuries before.
After this, I intend to write A Suitcase of Clothes, a piece of contemporary fiction for adults. It is partly planned and intimidates me slightly when I think of it due to the quiet intensity of the principal character.
Where can people find your books?
Online at WH Smith, Waterstones, Amazon, The Telegraph Bookshop, The Guardian Bookshop, Goodreads.
What has been the greatest moment of your writing career?
The feedback from readers of The Silent Land, and the first readers of The Legend of Caradoc, remains the highlight. I’d be in trouble if they didn’t like my work.
Besides writing, what hobbies, interests do you have in your spare time?
Work and writing seem to sap most of my time outside of life’s requirements. I’m at my happiest when out walking with my dogs though.
Which novelists do you admire?
I’ll start from childhood and work through the chronology of a few: Roald Dahl, D.H. Lawrence, Philip Roth, Dylan Thomas, F.Scott Fitzgerald and Tim Wilson.
What has been the best piece of writing advice you have received?
The rather sharp and clever Claire Wingfield told me not to write The Silent Land using multiple points of view. I had been doing this, and as much as I found the process interesting, it wasn’t correct. I switched to third-person limited and the novel changed into what I wanted.
Do you have any tips or advice for other indie authors?
I have some writing tips, which I expect have been heard before. Here there are, nonetheless:
* Handwrite chapters from time to time and use a fountain pen.
* Find some guinea pigs to read your work and ensure they are blunt and happy to cause offence.
* Be disciplined, but ignore the tales of the writers who produce thousands of words a day. Find the ceiling that suits how you work and then aim to reach it.