Wednesday, 9 March 2016

An Interview with Dane Cobain

Today, I'd like to welcome British writer, poet and musician, Dane Cobain to Just Books.
When he's not writing books, he's reading and reviewing them on his book blog - - or working at his day job in social media marketing. Find him on Facebook or follow @DaneCobain on Twitter.

Hi Dane, thank you for joining me today. I'd like to start by asking a few questions about your books and then see if we can get to know a bit about you.
So, first of all, would you tell us where the ideas for your books come from?

My first release, a supernatural thriller called No Rest for the Wicked, was based upon a nightmare that I had. I woke up, jotted down the bare basics, and then fleshed it out over the next couple of weeks.
As for Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, my book of poetry, that was just the next natural step – I’ve written a couple of thousand poems and never released a book of poetry, so I wanted to collect the best of the best together.

In No Rest for the Wicked which, if any, of your personality traits did you write into your characters?
I think that most of my characters have aspects of my personality, even if it’s just one character trait. It’s hard to think of individual traits, though – I’m not sure if I could name one! But if you know me and you read one of my books then you’ll see it.

...And did you develop characters from your personal experiences or draw from that of others?
A bit of both, really – as I said, my characters are often a sort of amalgam of different influences. Sometimes they have elements based on myself, sometimes they have elements based on people I know, and sometimes they have a combination of both – I then usually flesh out the details by adding a couple of extra attributes, to make them more three-dimensional.

So, which of your characters do you relate to the most?
There’s actually a quiz that I made which you can take to find out which No Rest for the Wicked character you are, and my result was Father Montgomery. But I think I’m more like Jones, at least in No Rest for the Wicked – as a whole, though, I probably have more in common with Flick or Dan from, my upcoming techno-thriller.

Would you give us some insight into your main character, in No Rest for the Wicked.
Father Montgomery is an elderly priest with a secret past. He lives a good, quiet life, but when his parishioners come under attack, he knows that he has to act. He isn’t a hero – he’s just a man with a job to do.

Is Father Montgomery your favourite character from the book?
I’ve always had a lot of love for Father Montgomery – in some ways, he’s the type of person that I’d like to be when I’m older. Plus he’s complex, and he thinks in interesting ways.

Please describe for us, your favourite scene or chapter in your book and tell us why it’s your favourite?
I liked writing the flashback scenes into Montgomery’s past because it allowed me to show him in a different light. I wanted him to seem human, and so it was important for those scenes to be included – plus, I can talk about those without ruining the story for anyone who hasn’t read the book yet!

Which scene or chapter was the hardest for you to write?
That would be the final showdown at the end – I actually wrote two different versions of it, across about four or five different chapters, until eventually I arrived at something that I was happy with by combining the two. And then I had to further revise it during the editing process.

How important are names to you in your books?
Names are very important, and it’s hard to get them right. I usually have the names confirmed before I finalise all of the character attributes – it certainly helps to put a label on things!

In a perfect world where you could cast your book for a movie, who would you pick for your main characters?
Father Montgomery would be played by Sir Ian McKellen, and I guess Jones would be played by someone random like Paddy Considine.

Tell us about the covers, how they came about and who designed them.

The cover design process is usually fairly similar from start to finish – I share any ideas that I have with my designer, and they then work on a mood board. From there, the designer works on a few concepts, I pick my favourite and we further refine it from there.
The cover for No Rest for the Wicked was created by a talented designer called Ashley Ruggirello, but she no longer works with Booktrope and so my latest book covers have been created by Michelle Fairbanks of Fresh Design. She’s a lot of fun to work with, and also very good at what she does!

Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Yes! And not just in the buying process – it adds to the overall aesthetic feel of the book. As a keen reader myself, I know how important it is for each element of the book to come together, from the cover design and the layout to the paper quality and the fonts that are used. In fact, one of the reasons why I signed with Booktrope was that I’d read a lot of books by their authors and I was always impressed with their high quality.

Can you tell us anything about any of your current work(s)-in-progress?
I have a few projects on the go, really. Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, was published last month, so I’m working on releasing a techno-thriller novel called, about a social networking site for the dead, and then a book called Social Paranoia, which is about how using social networking sites can make you paranoid, and how you can combat that. Meanwhile, I’m currently writing a horror novella called Come On Up to the House, which will be published with an accompanying screenplay, and after that, I have plans to start work on a series of detective novels for 2017. It’s all busy, busy, busy!

That does sound like it'll keep you busy, Dane!
Let's move on to some questions about you. When did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?

Probably when I was about fifteen or sixteen, but the defining moment came when I was eighteen and decided to study creative writing at university, instead of web development, which had been my previous plan.

...And what motivates you to write?
It’s just a compulsion – I can’t not write, I get bored. I can’t even sit still for an evening – I have to always be working on something.

Do you like to get up early or stay up late? Why?
I’m definitely a night owl – I always find it difficult to get to sleep, and so I typically end up working late into the night. If I didn’t have to get up for work, I’d probably sleep in until the afternoon every day and then work until two or three in the morning. Charles Bukowski once said, “Never get out of bed before noon.” Words to live by.

What's the last concert you saw? Had you seen them before? Do you have any of their albums?
I tend to go to a lot of smaller concerts, but I think that the last ‘big’ one that I went to was to see the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Not only had I seen them before, but I’d actually seen them about five days earlier at Glastonbury Festival – I bought tickets for their tour before they were added to the line-up. They’re an awesome band, but I don’t own any of their albums – I don’t own any albums, I listen to everything on Spotify, these days.

If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future, or anything else, what would you want to know?
Great question, and a difficult one to answer. I guess I’d want to know how it all turns out, ‘it’ being life as we know it and time going on infinitely and stuff. The future is a big place.

Thank you very much for your time, Dane, just one final question before you return to your writing...
If you were ever stranded on a deserted island what would you miss the most and which three books would you take along?

I’d miss my friends, the internet and my home comforts, and I’d probably take Northern Lights by Philip Pullman, any book of Charles Bukowski poetry and a copy of Lord of the Flies, just as a constant reminder of what not to do.

Danes books are available to buy on Amazon:

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