When did you start writing? I didn’t start writing stories until I was about 40! Before that I wrote songs for a band that I played in. Eventually a life of dragging sound equipment around began to pall and I started to write short stories – far less physically demanding!
You are well known for your live performances – how did you start? Before I came to Manchester in 2006, I had hardly ever performed live. I discovered Manchester’s spoken word scene when I was invited to the inaugural night of Bad Language, the spoken word open mic night in the Northern Quarter. I met lots of other writers there and the live aspect of my work really took off. The Manchester literary world has been good to me. Early on I met Nicholas Royle of Nightjar Press and he published one of my early short stories
So how did your short stories become so very short?!I discovered a website that paid for micro stories – 25p a word! I quickly amassed a collection of 60 or 70 stories and so at the suggestion of a friend I sent them to Salt Publishing who published them. Salt has published three more books of my micro fiction and my first novel ‘Never Never’.
How did you get the idea for your first novel? I was working as a debt counsellor in Hulme and , was fascinated by the colourful lives of my clients. I was unwell one day and whilst sitting at home looking for something to do I thought – ‘ I could fill a novel with all these stories’ . ‘Never Never’ attracted a lot of interest as it’s release coincided with the financial crash and so the subject of debt was suddenly very topical.
Is your second novel – ‘All the Places I Ever Lived’ inspired by real life? Well, it takes place in West Cumbria where I grew up and references an actual murder case but you’ll have to read it to find out more!
You have a full time job with the Arts Council – how do you find the time to write? I travel a lot for work and so write on trains more than I do at home. I try to write 1000 words a day if possible. That sounds a lot but writing is so wasteful. A novel is typically 90 000 words but that could mean 200 000 words including first drafts, rewrites etc.
What was the worst advice you have been given on writing? Finish everything – just don’t! If you are getting bored the reader will be too. Get out while the going is good.
Any favourite novels and writers? I really enjoyed The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills. It was Mills’s first novel and it was shortlisted for the Booker prize in1998. I’m also a fan of John McGregor’s recent novel, Reservoir 13. My short story hero is the great Raymond Carver.
You can find out more about David’s work on his website here