An Interview with David Evans, about his writing and his new novel Talisman, that was published yesterday through Bloodhound Books.
Where did you get the inspiration for your latest story?
With Talisman, I heard a couple of stories that intrigued me. They were the basis of the story lines of the body in the bath and the secret house of the solicitor. From there I began to develop plot lines around them. I added the third plot line and began to weave them around my main characters. The process wasn’t easy but the end point became clear part way through. For the first time in writing a book, I drafted the last 3 or 4 chapters then went back to lead the action towards them, fine tuning at the end.
How much involvement do you have in the cover design, and how important do you think book covers are?
I think book covers are extremely important. The old story of studies being made of readers’ habits when going into bookshops is true. You wander to the genre you like to read and the first thing to attract your attention (if you’re seeking a new writer) will be the title and book cover. You’ll then turn the book over and read the blurb. If that intrigues you, you’ll open up the book and read the first page. If that grabs you by the lapels, you will probably buy it. If it doesn’t, it will be back on the shelf. Total time for this, probably a couple of minutes.
With Trophies, I was introduced to a local photographer, Dan Tidswell, who was interested in producing an image for the book. I sent him a couple of relevant passages and some indication of what was in my head. The woman is his sister who had been a professional model and he produced a really great image – making her face not quite clear because the face wasn’t important, only that she gave the impression she was frightened someone following her. It was his idea for the back cover to be of a street with no one there.
Can you tell us about your work in progress/next book idea?
I have completed the draft of a new novel, Disposal, which is not connected with the Wakefield Series. It is set around the north Essex coast towards the end of the long hot summer of 1976. My main protagonist is a uniformed sergeant who witnesses an incident which draws him back into CID to work for a DI who, by his own admission, is obnoxious and arrogant. It is currently with my beta readers and work on the re-draft will begin shortly.
I’m hoping this will be the first in a new series which will give me the choice of picking up one series or the other for future novels.
What is the best and hardest thing about being an author?
The best thing is when a reader you have never met and have had no connection with thoroughly enjoys your work and ‘gets’ what you are trying to do.
The hardest thing is writing the synopsis. However, I have developed a formula which works for me to make that process a lot easier. With the first two books, Trophies and Torment, I drafted the novels then struggled with drafting their synopses. With Talisman and this latest project, Disposal, I approached the task more like a screenwriter would. I had the initial ideas and began the manuscript as normal and got to about 5,000 words in. At that point you know if the book ‘has legs’. I stopped and began with a one paragraph statement of what the book would be about. That summary was expanded to one page then two. This gave me a rough framework of the book which I followed loosely but still let the writing take me where it felt best. At various points in the writing process I would tweak the framework to correspond with the story. On completion, the synopsis is virtually there with only some minor editing required. I find this method so much more effective, using my two page treatment as the basis.
Which of your books have you enjoyed writing to date and why?
Apart from my current work in progress (which I have had a lot of fun with), of the Wakefield Series, I thoroughly enjoyed the ‘ride’ with Talisman. The ending became apparent quite early on with the strong ‘time lock’ and, for the first time, I wrote the end chapters ahead of the rest of the book. That was an effective way of avoiding ‘writers’ block’ as well as giving me something to aim for. I also changed some aspects of the ending which I hoped would rack the readers’ emotions. Judging from some of the early reactions I’ve had, I think that has been successful. I initially planned to end the book at the penultimate chapter but I felt that would short-change the reader, and so the final chapter was added.
Has a character ever surprised you as to where they want to take the story? And if so, tell us about it.
In my current work, Disposal, one of the most satisfying aspects was when I wrote a chapter with my two main characters in a car. The DI was driving with the DS in the passenger seat. It was as if I was sitting in the back seat listening to their conversation. I had no idea what they were going to say until they said it. That was a really satisfying time as a writer.
David, What do you enjoy most about attending book festivals?
I love the opportunity to mix and mingle with readers, other authors and various industry professionals. It keeps you in touch with what others are up to and provides inspiration to keep going.
Through attending these events, I now have a group of close friends from all over (including overseas). We are all writers and we share our work for critical purposes.
Writing is a solitary pursuit but that doesn’t mean it has to be lonely and having people you trust who will give you ‘warts and all’ feedback is so important. We also try and meet up in person at least once a year if not more.
Thank you so much for your time, and interesting in depth answers