This post is spotlighting In The Mood …For Murder by DE McCluskey and Tony Bolland. There is also the second installment of the 3 part interview with David.
✫.•° Blurb °•.✫
Liverpool in 1946, post war and swinging…
The Rialto theatre is a hotbed of the Big Band Swing scene, with bands playing most nights to full crowds of youngsters looking to forget the drudgery of everyday life, rations and the ruins of the blitz.
The Downswing Seven are The Rialto’s house band who are in the need of a new singer, much to the annoyance of George Hogg, the drummer. His disability had prevented him from seeing active service during the war, and now it’s preventing him from fulfilling his dream of fronting the band as the lead male vocal.
Are somethings worth killing for? George certainly thinks so…
In The Mood… For Murder is a period thriller, set against the backdrop of war time Liverpool.
✫.•° Book Links °•.✫
✫.•° Interview Part 2 °•.✫
LH: On to the writing-related questions.
What made you want to write?
DM: Right… One Christmas Eve night when my daughter was three, I was lying in bed with her reading The Night Before Christmas. Because I’m a boring reader, with little or no inflection, she was well asleep by the time I finished (if she hadn’t gone, I was going to tell her jokes). When I finished I thought to myself I can do that… So, quite literally, I did.
On Boxing Day, when I finally got a little time to myself, I sat down at my computer and bashed out a story that had been churning through my head for, what I found out then, was years… it just fell out.
It was a short rhyming tale about Father Christmas (Santa Claus) coming to visit a small boy. But, the twist was that this small boy was a wrong ‘un, and he was on Santa’s Naughty List (It’s true, he does have a list, and he does check it twice. He knows exactly who’s been naughty, not nice) So this visit of Santa isn’t the nice experience that Clement Clark Moore wrote about.
It went on from there, and I produced my first comic. Interesting Tymes… six short horror stories, written in rhyme, for children. I found an illustrator and away I went…
LH: Do You have a set writing routine? Will You share what it is?
DM: I’m an early riser. I usually get up about half five, sometimes I go for a run, other times I sit and write until I have to get ready for work. Then I write in my dinner hour and in any downtime I have.
I don’t seem to get much writing done in the evening, my brain is too frazzled, or I might have a comedy gig and not get home till after midnight.
Sometimes I get full days to myself, alone in the house, but I tend not to get much done there, I do some of my best writing in chaos. I love sitting in busy coffee shops, looking like the pretentious tw*t I am, sat at a table typing away. McDonalds is another good place. I seem to work well in mad, busy places.
LH: Where do you get your character inspiration from?
DM: I have killed many many many of my work colleagues off in a number of my books, comics and short stories. I work as an IT engineer, I like the people I work with but hate the job, so when anyone rings me, for anything other than a gab about the football or the weekend, if their email isn’t working or some software is malfunctioning, then I am already planning their demise…
LH: Are any of your characters based on real people?
DM: Oh yeah…
Surprisingly, I can’t say that any of the main characters are, but peripheral characters!!! My ex-wife, my boss, some people I have met along the way in all my walks of life…
LH: When you’re writing do the characters talk to you? Do they tell you what they want to happen?
DM: Most definitely… I remember trying to convince a friend when I wrote the first draft for one of my upcoming titles, that one character did something that I didn’t expect, therefore changing the whole story, slightly.
He was unconvinced. He was like, they are essentially you, you tell them what to do, you created them. I told him that when their personality is written down, then they have to stay true to that personality… sometimes, the things you have planned for them wouldn’t make any sense due to their personality…
He’s still not convinced, so I killed him off in the next story I wrote… that taught him.
LH: Do you outline the whole story before you begin writing or just roll with the flow?
DM: This sounds like, so obvious, but I usually come up with the start, find something in the middle I can anchor to, then conceive the ending… Everything else is left to flow on its own. What I do now, is I use the NOTES app on my phone and write a short synopsis… then I sit down and fluff all the middle bits until it looks and sounds like a story!!!
LH: Who is your favourite character to write or that you have written and why?
DM: My second novel, In The Mood for Murder is based in Liverpool in 1946 and it has, as the main protagonist, a character called George Hogg. George is a drummer in a swing-band. He is a fantastic drummer, and he also has the singing voice of an angel. But, he suffered from polio when he was a child, and therefore he has a club foot, walks with a limp and a bad posture. Because of this he is overlooked when the band need a new frontman.
This guy has absolutely no redeeming qualities whatsoever. He is nastiness through and through…
He was a pleasure to write.
LH: Do you listen to music when you write? If yes do you have any particular favourites?
DM: Oh yeah… I don’t tend to do anything without music in my life.
As I mentioned before, mostly hard rock/heavy metal, but I also love the likes of early INXS, the Rolling Stones, AC/DC… whatever dings my dong at that particular time.
LH: How do/did your family feel when your first book was published?
DM: Wow… It was like I had been given the keys to the city, or a knighthood by the Queen. I have two older sisters who are so supportive, and my mum couldn’t have been more proud. Everyone was shocked as the writing came from nowhere. One moment I wasn’t an author the next moment I was…
Also, being from Liverpool I have approximately seven hundred thousand cousins, and they have all been supportive too.
LH: Can you share a snippet of your current WIP?
DM: Yeah… My WIP right now is a zombie novel called ‘Z’: A Love Story.
This is Chapter one… (unedited)
The alarm clock buzzed and buzzed and buzzed. The annoying, horrible sound was his life, heralding in another dull, grey, Monday morning. Kevin gritted his teeth and looked at the figures on the clock. For a while they danced around in his eyes, green illuminated blobs jumping around on a black surface. He closed his eyes for a couple of seconds, exhaled a large, uninspiring breath and then opened them again. They were now behaving themselves. Eleven minutes past six, Monday the tenth of February.
How utterly depressing!
All the Christmas frivolities and fun seemed a million miles away, and any summer fun that he might be having, might being the operative word! he thought, felt like at least two million miles away.
Valentine’s Day was the next big thing in his calendar. He had huge plans for this one. As it was a Friday, he was planning to treat himself to a curry and a couple of bottles of beer. Then he was going to taking the next, huge step in his relationship. He was going to order that television programme streaming service everyone in work was talking about.
He had been toying with the idea for some time now. Everyone in work had been raving on about some of the box-set series that they had been watching on it recently, and he thought it was time that he joined in those conversations about dragons, serial-killers, and zombies.
Kevin was longing to be a part of something, of anything. If it was conversations about knights in shining armour rescuing damsels in distress, or about the whole population turning into cannibalistic walking corpses, then so be it. He needed to fit in.
He had moved to London a little over ten years ago, and in all that time he had worked in the same company. Battling his way up the corporate ladder from lowly office junior, to the lofty, coveted senior purchasing ledger officer. It was a role with many responsibilities, not one of which were even remotely interesting to him, never mind any potential friends or lovers.
He always thought of them as potential friends and lovers as, in the whole ten years he had lived in the big city, he still didn’t consider anyone as a close friend. There were people in the office who he liked and who liked him in return, and even one or two of them who he didn’t mind going out for a drink or two with every now and then, but no-one who he would call a close friend.
With this depressing reality still lingering in his head, he flung the warm, comfortable bed sheets off him and dragged himself out of his king-sized bed, running his hand through his unkempt hair. It was still dark outside; therefore, it was dark inside too. He leaned over, felt around his little table for the wire that had a small switch on it somewhere along the way. After much fumbling and a little swearing, he found it, and snapped the lamp on.
The dull, yellow light from the energy-saving bulb he’d been pressured into buying after watching a million stories about saving energy, in the lamp illuminated his drab, sad existence. The other side of his bed was empty. As he sat on the side of the bed he glanced over at it and breathed a deep breath before releasing it slowly out of his nose. He wasn’t expecting to see anyone there, go to bed alone, wake up alone, he thought. ‘Well, hopefully!’ he laughed, spooking himself a little with his own voice.
The large bed had been his first purchase when he had moved into this flat, all those years ago. A king-sized bed with a memory foam mattress. It had cost him a small fortune, but he thought, at the time, that it was worth the investment. London was brimming with single women and any one of them would be lucky to sample the delights of his boudoir.
Sadly, the only action that the mattress had seen in the ten years since he’d purchased it, had been solo action!
He pulled himself away from the comfort and warmth of his pit, and made his way across the cold, laminate flooring of his flat. Slippers, he thought, I need to get myself some slippers. That thought alone was enough to send him back into the deep doldrums of depression.
He made it to the bathroom and turned on the shower. Almost instantly the small room steamed up and, by the time he had finished him morning ablutions, he had to wipe the condensation off the mirror to even see himself.
Kevin was thirty-five, his dark blonde hair was now receding, and as he leaned forward to inspect, he inspected a few grey hairs that were sprouting around his temples. He blinked slowly, shaking his head. I can’t believe I’m going to go grey, or bald, before I ever have another meaningful relationship. This thought depressed him too.
He wasn’t fat, in-fact he was rather buff; three times a week in the gym had gotten him a decent physique. By his own admission, he was no Arnold Schwarzenegger, but then he never wanted to be. He looked at his face in the mirror, dark brown eyes, tinged with loneliness, a large nose, solid chin. ‘Are you gay, Kevin?’ he asked his reflection as it began to fog back over. ‘I mean, there’s nothing wrong with that if you are, especially in this day and age!’
He was mimicking a conversation that he had had with one of his colleagues on the last night out, a week or so ago. The guy had gotten a little drunk and felt the need to ask Kevin why he had never seen him with a lady. He’d known that the conversation was not meant to be malicious, but the question had cut him to the quick.
Maybe I am gay! he thought, that would be just my luck, because I really don’t fancy men!
He shook his head, removed his pyjamas, and jumped into the steaming hot shower.
Fifteen minutes later, and he was feeling in a much better mood, ready for whatever the day could throw at him. He combed his hair in the mirror and looked at himself. ‘New week new you, Kev. You’ve got this, fella!’
He dressed in his normal suit, ate his usual bowl of cereal, put on his usual winter coat on and left his flat at the same time he did every week-day.
He caught the same bus, sat in his usual seat next to the same old woman who smiled at him as she did every day. He always smiled back before getting his mobile phone out of his pocket and looking through his piles and piles of junk email.
He wasn’t one for watching television, and he wondered quite often to himself, why he even bothered to pay his TV Licence as the large flat-screen LCD Smart TV that he had bought about six months ago, had very seldom even been turned on. Streaming will put an end to that, he thought with a sad smile.
The man sat next to him stood up to get off, as his usual stop, leaving behind him a rather dog-eared copy of The Metro, the transport system’s free newspaper. He looked at the headline.
USA FLEXES ITS NUCLEAR MUSCLES IN RESPONSE TO NORTH-KOREAN THREAT.
It was headlines like this that kept him from reading newspapers or watching the news on the TV. If he needed any news or any information, he could get whatever he wanted from the internet. But just lately, he hadn’t even bothered with that. Every time he logged on he was bombarded with sex, sex, sex, and more sex. He had gotten bored with internet porn, as he thought that most single blokes must eventually do. He had grown disillusioned with football. The greedy, grasping players with their agents, not to mention certain TV companies had ruined that for him too. So, most nights he immersed himself in the world of books. He loved the classics. They transported him away from his sad, lonely existence where a property tycoon madman, somehow elevated to presidential levels, was fighting with an impudent, spoilt child. Neither of them had any place ruling a country, never mind overseeing large nuclear arsenals.
The headline chilled him, but it was all so far away.
All he was concerned with was getting into work, earning his money, and going home to find out if Victor von Frankenstein was actually going to fulfil the monster’s demand, and build him a woman.
I sometimes wish I could build me a woman, he thought sadly as the busy bus edged its way through the overcrowded streets of London.
LH: That concludes part 2 of my interview with Dave. Thank you again, I’m looking forward to our final session.
Join us on Monday, October 8th for the concluding part of Dave’s interview. In the meantime here’s a little more about Dave and the places that you can go to stalk him.
✫.•° About The Author °•.✫
I began writing in 2011, mainly for my own enjoyment. I began by making up funny, rhyming stories, with a horror-based theme running through them. I wrote them mostly for my daughter who was only four years of age at the time.
These rhymes where popular with my friends and family and someone mentioned that I should get them down in a book. That’s when the idea for a comic sprung into mind.
I scoured the internet and met a fantastic illustrator. I then commissioned him to illustrate this comic and Interesting Tymes was created. This is an anthology of short horror stories, all written in rhyme, but suitable for children to read too.
This was so popular with friends and family and further afield, that I decided to make another. Interesting Tymes X 2 continued where the first one left off, with Edward D’Ammage introducing another six horror tales.
From then I got the bug. I began to expand my series of rhyming tales, taking the original themes, and making them into longer stories. Using a different illustrator, I wrote, commissioned, and produced my first, short, horror comic. Wooden Heart.
I then began to write a zombie serial called The Few, we are currently on # 3 of what will be seven. #4 is currently in production.
I then embarked on a more ambitious project. My first graphic novel. Doppelganger is over 100 pages long and is a dark psychological tale of a man descending into madness.
Next up came DeathDay presents. This is a 4-part comedy tale about three demons in Hell who forget about Satan’s DeathDay. It has a 15 rating as the imagery in the back is rather graphic and gory, while the interactions between the demons is comedic and light.
Then I wrote and produced another full graphic novel. This one is called Olf. This is a children’s tale about Fr Christmas and his reindeer. I wrote this as I wanted to balance my brain between the darkness of Doppelganger my desire to wrote something that my daughter could read.
With a love of sci-fi and the old-style Flash Gordon type cliff-hangers, I wrote a series of tales about an adventurer called Mace Masoch, and his sidekick Miss Ninetails. The style of this comic was adult orientated, with buxom women and muscular men. #2 is currently in production.
After Mace, I went back to the list of my old rhyming tails and selected a longer, rhyming tale to produce in the same style as Interesting Tymes. This was to be a vehicle for my leading character Edward D’Ammage to run with his own titles. Edward D’Ammage Presents: The Wedding is in the same vein as Interesting Tymes although it has a different illustrator.
After this I did a collaboration with leading ‘extreme horror’ author Matt Shaw to serialise his best-selling novel, Sick B*stards, into a graphic novel. This has been a successful venture up to now, even though only #1 is available yet. #2 is currently in production.
I produced a short zombie inspired short horror comic, working with the illustrator I used for Wooden Heart, and produced Three Days in the City. This is a zombie-esque tale set in Liverpool. It’s a one-shot story and sells really well in conventions, mainly due to the location.
Bringing back my love of Christmas and my love of old comics like The Beano, I partnered up with a fantastic artist called Joe Matthews, and we produced one of my proudest pieces of work. We undertook the mammoth job of re-writing Charles Dickens classic A Christmas Carol, completely in rhyme. Joe did the artwork in his fantastic Beano-esque style. This has been my best seller to date.
In all the time writing, I had also written several short horror stories. I took the decision to bring these together into another anthology, and teaming up again with the illustrator for Doppelganger, I produced Short Sharp Shocks. Six short horror/thriller tales all introduced by a skeletal game show host.
My next project is still in production. It’s a graphic novel about a female super-villain with a good side to her. Its called DreamCatcher. Originally, I was going to produce this as three parts, but decided that I would wait until all three parts are complete before bringing it out as a full graphic novel. Parts 1 & 2 are complete, while 3 is just about to be commissioned.
Writing graphic novels, I found long and laborious to do. I have no talent for drawing, but I do see the panels in my head and am very good at articulating them to the illustrators. But, I found myself increasingly at the mercy to how fast the artist work. I am a fast writer, and I wanted the artists to work as fast as I did. It was also proving costly, as good artists do not come cheap. I was working with a good illustrator friend on a graphic novel I had written called Thirteen. She had produced ten pages of top-notch work for me, but she was worried about the length of time it was taking her to complete the pages. She loved the story she was working on, so she convinced me to turn it into a full-length novel. She told me that the scope of the graphic novel would probably bankrupt me anyway. So, I converted the comic script and produced my first full novel. I changed the name of it to The Twelve and it is currently selling well on Amazon, and from me via my Facebook page.
Stirred on by the success of The Twelve, I teamed up with a local musical historian who I used to work with back in the days of playing in bands around Liverpool. We came up with a concept about a historical tale about the old Liverpool music scene. He did a load of research into the swing music scene in Liverpool after the war, and my second novel came to life. In The mood… For Murder was released, to excellent reviews. Bit things are in the pipeline for this book, least of all, a sequel is in the works.
Next up came my third novel, CRACK. This is a brutal story about one mans descent into addiction after a road traffic accident that wasn’t his fault. This is a specialised tale and is not always everyone’s cup of tea. Although it is selling well, the reviews, although good, are slow in coming.
Next up I am hoping to release Z: A Love Story by Christmas (or shortly after). A zombie tale inspired by one of my rhyming stories in Interesting Tymes X 2. Then I have written and am currently editing a sci-fi Jack the Ripper inspired tale entitled Timeripper. I have also written and am also editing a trilogy of books; Glimmer Trilogy. This is three books set in a fictional land, with magic and swords. I have written this for the YA genre. Lastly, I have re-written my Olf graphic novel into a children’s novel, I am currently getting illustrations completed for this, with a look to release it for Christmas 2019. This will be the first in a series of 5 novels, all set in the same land.
In my spare time, I work as a computer engineer, I am a full-time father to my daughter Grace (who will be bringing out her own children’s book in 2019, entitled The Hangry Hamster), I also do stand-up comedy around the north-west of England.