Wednesday , February 28 2024
Drop the romance about being a writer – it’s a job, one you should enjoy but ultimately one you’ll have to make sacrifices to succeed in.

Interview with David J Rodger, author of ‘Oakfield’

David J Rodger holding OakfieldDavid J Rodger is the author of nine novels and creator of Yellow Dawn – The Age of Hastur RPG.  His stories, which have garnered excellent reviews, are fast-paced thrillers that crossover into Science Fiction & Dark Fantasy. He’s written non-fiction for magazines such as SFX, as well as short stories published in U.K., U.S., Canada, and Japan.  He lives in England, where he writes from a house on a hill.  Find him on the web here:

Congratulations on the release of your latest book, Oakfield. When did you start writing and what got you into Science Fiction & Dark Fantasy?

Thanks! I started writing in 1989 and it was this book, Oakfield, that put me on the path. I’ve published nine novels in that time but Oakfield took me 25 years to write.  I got turned on to horror at an early age with James Herbert and then H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos blew my mind.  Then I discovered Robert Ludlum and found my imagination sinking into thrillers and espionage.  William Gibson’s Neuromancer ignited an interest in technology, sci-fi, and cyberpunk. It’s this fusion of genres that has inspired throughout.  

What is your book about?

Oakfield is ultimately a story of redemption. The main character is getting used to a squeaky clean new body courtesy of military medical cover but is struggling to cope with the psychological fallout of being killed in action. He’s alive but where is his soul?  When his sister inherits a house from their estranged grandfather and invites him to join her there for a week, he treats it as part of his recovery and as a chance to heal the wounds that sit deep within their family.  However, once at the house it quickly transpires the grandfather did not die of natural causes. The house holds secrets and there are monsters in the quiet places nearby.  The characters must face this horror whilst picking apart the emotional turmoil of their own relationships. It’s a fast and tense read but is wrapped around a core of emotional intelligence. 

Oakfield CoverDid you have any struggles or difficulties when you started writing?

Yes. Lack of experience (in life) and lack of skill. I was 19 and decided, in that naïve and wonderfully optimistic way of most teenagers, that I was going to become an author.  I had a dreamy notion of sitting down and coming up with a grand tale. I would finish it, hand it over to a publisher who would gratefully take it away and place it on a magic conveyor belt the far end of which would deposit the book, plus cover, on a bookstore shelf.  When I first sat down to write I discovered that within a few chapters I had forgotten what colour my character eyes were. Or the name of that small detail that seemed so important at the start of the book. I had to learn how to become organised.  I also discovered that finishing something is a lot harder than starting.  Later, I discovered that writing a book is easy compared to how hard it is to sell a book. Growing a brand, expanding your market. Being a writer is actually about being an entrepreneur. You’re a one man/one woman show and the only person who can pull all the required skills together is you.

Do you have a writing schedule? Are you disciplined?

Yes. Very. In fact, many fellow writers and editors I know on the scene consider me to be a machine. I treat it like a job. I sit down, I write.  Or if I can’t write (rare), I work at writing.  My biggest secret weapon to delivering such a prolific amount of content is what I call my Da Vinci method.  Otherwise known as polyphasic sleep. After every 45 minutes of writing I sleep for 15 minutes. Takes a couple weeks to get used to but once you’re into the groove it’s wonderfully rewarding. Been doing it for years now. 

Do you have a website or blog where readers can find out more about your work?

I do. There’s the dry bookshelf of a website that says, I’m an author and these are my books: That’s my professional showcase.  Then there’s my blog where I post about work-in-progress, my experience of being an author (self-venting), and shout about discounts and promos when I’m not uploading weird images or writing about cool technology trends. 

What is your advice for aspiring authors?

Protect your boundaries: don’t let friends, family or work consume your “spare time”.  Write for at least 45 minutes every day.  Even if you’re staring at a blank screen – you’ve honoured yourself by sitting down with the discipline to do it.  Be organised.  Be humble.  Drop the romance about being a writer – it’s a job, one you should enjoy but ultimately one you’ll have to make sacrifices to succeed in.  Remove your ego from the product. As soon as you’ve got something to show to people, show it. Grow thick skin. Listen to the criticism and make up your own mind on whether it’s valid or not. And if there’s something wrong with your product, fix it! People are going to pay hard-earned money for it. Better make sure it’s good. And don’t write to show how clever you are; write to give the reader what they want.  Learn how to approach agents and publishers without annoying them.  Read submission guidelines.  Be smart.  Be professional. 

George Orwell once wrote: “Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.” Comments?

I can totally relate to this.  Writing has consumed vast swathes of my life.  It nearly destroyed my relationship with my girlfriend/editor.  Right now I’m 8 months into “a year-off working to write” and sometimes I wake up in the morning and don’t know who I am or what I am doing with my life.  I hate it.  I declare I’m going to stop this ridiculous waste of my time.  But I can’t stop.  Because I fizz with ideas.  I sit down at a keyboard and I go giddy with excitement.

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About Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. Represented by Serendipity Literary.

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