I appreciate anyone who loves Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy, and so I’m happy to share an interview with Dane Cobain today. . . his notes on reading reviews, well, those I take some issue with since I don’t think one-size-fits-all writing advice works . . . you’ll see what I mean. Enjoy!
No Rest for the Wicked I is a supernatural thriller about evil ‘Angels’ that eradicate sinners. The only problem is, they judge everyone to be a sinner. The basic idea behind the book came from a nightmare that I had, and I wrote it in my second year at university – it took a good five years to get it published! But it’s been well-received so far, so it was worth the wait.
2. What stories, themes, motivations do you find yourself drawn to in your work and in the works you read?
There’s not really a single theme that I find myself drawn back to, but most of my stuff is pretty dark. I don’t really constrain myself to genres, or even formats – I write poetry, music, fiction and non-fiction, so genres don’t really apply!
3. What do you do when you’re not writing?
I promote my writing. I work in social media marketing, so I apply a lot of what I know to my work. I’m a creature of habit, really – I try to fill up every hour of every day with something that will help my writing. Like being interviewed by you, for example!
4. How do you balance what will sell with what you want to say?
I don’t! Luckily, I write so much stuff that I can simply prioritise it – I lead with the more commercial stuff and then release the less commercial stuff if there’s a gap in my release schedule.
5. Which is more difficult – drafting or revising? Why?
Revising is easier because you have something to work from. But really, they’re totally different – it’s like asking whether it’s easier to be a brain surgeon or a rocket scientist. Drafting is more of a wild card, though – sometimes it’s a lot of fun, and sometimes it’s horrible. Revising is generally just monotonous but required.
6. What is your favorite part about being a writer?
Tough question to answer, because it’s just something that I am – that’s like asking someone what their favourite part about being gay is! That said, you can’t beat the feeling you get when you hold a book that you wrote in your hands for the first time.
7. What is your least favorite part about being a writer?
Probably the fact that it’s impossible to relax, because there’s always something that needs to be done!
8. What are a few of your favorite books of all time?
Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials trilogy was incredible, and I always cite Northern Lights, the first book in the trilogy, as my favourite book of all time. I’m going with that because there are too many others to mention by name!
9. If you could inhabit the setting of one book, where would you live and why?
Northern Lights again! They live in a sort of steampunk, semi-Victorian alternative to modern day Oxford, and it sounds lovely. Plus, everyone has a daemon – mine would totally be in the shape of a wolf or a husky.
10. What’s your philosophy and practice about reading reviews of your work?
I think anyone who doesn’t read reviews of their work is a fool – you need to, to learn from the feedback. I’ve been lucky so far in that the only bad review so far was from a troll who’s friends with an ex-girlfriend of mine, and who decided to post a one-star review that only contained personal attacks and that didn’t mention the story line. Then Amazon removed it for being in breach of their reviewer guidelines. Other than that, my lowest so far has been three-stars, and the feedback has been constructive – in fact, the main negative so far has been that it was too short, which is good. It means that people will look forward to my next book.
Dane Cobain is a writer, poet and musician from a place you’ve probably never heard of, somewhere in England. When he’s not writing books, he’s reading and reviewing them on his book blog – SocialBookshelves.com – or working at his day job in social media marketing. Find him at Facebook.com/DaneCobainMusic or follow @DaneCobain on Twitter.
We are just 6 days out from our Writer’s Retreat at God’s Whisper Farm, and there’s still time for you to join us. 3 days of writing, talking about writing, and relaxing. . . get more information and register here.