What’s your writing background?
I always loved getting lost in books as a kid, from Robinson Crusoe to Charles Dickens. I guess I found escape in-between the pages and it developed (some may say over-developed) my imagination. I grew up in the London’s East End and life was tough but books and films offered a world away from where I lived. From leaving school at 15 to 34 my reading continued but the writing took a back seat. Then a light switched on again encouraged greatly by my wife, Natalie, and suddenly I was scribbling away, writing short stories at first. I joined a writing group and being an arrogant son of a bitch decided to form my own writing group and do it properly. I got funding from Maidstone Borough Council and we employed two great authors (Kate Pullinger and Peter Guttridge) to teach us the ropes. Somehow during this I strayed into journalism with a local group of newspapers and had a number of short stories published in ‘local’ magazines. I then won a short story competition on BBC Radio 4’s art programme, Kaleidoscope. I then began novel writing and have numerous failed attempts still on floppy discs – remember them? I may return to them one day when I run out of ideas.
When did you begin writing and what inspired you?
I used to attempt novels from a very early age, writing on anything I could find. Two days before my first book was published a few years back, I found an old diary in our loft. I was 12 or so at the time and wrote that I would love to be a novelist when I left school. I don’t remember writing it but do remember being inspired by the books I was reading at the time. I have James Herbert to thank. I was reading ‘adult’ books at our library and couldn’t get enough. I read every James Herbert book I could find and waited for new ones with eager anticipation. In between I tried a little Stephen King but loved the fact that Herbert set his books in England.
How often do you write?
There is not a day that doesn’t go by where I have not written something. It might not always be fiction but creative writing is always a part of my day and night. I wish I had more time to spend writing novels and short stories which I love writing but can only manage so much due to other commitments.
And how do you manage to fit in writing among other commitments?
It’s difficult. I am just putting the finishing touches to my next novel ‘Dark Country’ which has taken 5 years to write. It has taken that long simply because of my other commitments. These include running Caffeine Nights Publishing and balancing this with a full time job in public relations. Caffeine Nights is really a exciting venture, with a stable of 17 authors and growing. Both jobs keep me fully employed but both are very rewarding creatively.
In which genre do you most enjoy writing?
My crime fiction is darker than a lot of crime fiction I read and is more crime horror, or so I have been told. I guess those early reading influences kind of hang around. I also like writing black comedy and saw Tripping, my second novel, as a good example of that. Tragedy and comedy are not such strange bedfellows, a bit like insanity and genius I guess. Fiction for me works best with character led stories, people you can believe in and care about. If I don’t like a character, even the vilest creature that I might write about, then I know readers will see them as frauds. All characters have to be living breathing souls with backgrounds and families and people who love or at least once loved them.
What draws you to write in that genre?
Darkness. I find something fascinating about the darker side of human nature. It’s compelling trying to understand what drives people to do things that ‘normal’ people find abhorrent, and what is scary is that often there seems to be no rationale. I think fiction deserves honesty and cannot abide glamorising violence. I think that is far more dangerous than being brutally honest over issues such as love and death.
Can you tell me about your current project(s)?
Dark Country is the second book in a series of books featuring Georgina O’Neil. The first book, Turtle Island introduces her as an ambitious but jaded F.B.I agent who gets entangled in an investigation which goes far from right. Dark Country although a stand alone novel pick ups from where Turtle Island leaves off. You don’t need to have read Turtle Island to enjoy if but if you do you will find clues as to her character change and where it’s leading her. Dark Country is a fun trip through not only the mind of Georgina O’Neil but three decades of kidnapping and murder. The book is subtitled ‘Songs of Love & Murder’ and gives me the chance to play with the reader’s perception of what can morally be right and wrong and how sometimes its impossible to judge between the two.
What are your writing plans for the future?
I usually like to write something totally different in-between a Georgina O’Neil book, so I am writing a noir fiction set in New York in the 1940’s that has a supernatural edge. It’s predominantly a love story gone wrong. After that it’s back to Georgina and the final book in the series. It will be sad to leave her but the plan was always to write three books and I am pretty sure I will stick to that plan. Then I would like to write something set in the East End. I love London. Maybe it’s nostalgia now that I live in Kent but even through the tough times it was a city that is character forming and I feel it’s time to write about some of those characters in some way.
Where can people find out more about you?
I am sure there are records somewhere…In all honesty you will find out more about me by reading the interview above than anything you can find on the web, but the sites listed below are interesting.
My blog site is me having a rant about publishing: http://darrenlaws.blogspot.com
Other than that check out our website: www.caffeine-nights.com