Interview with David Calder, New Zealand Writer & Rave Review Book Club Member
David Calder lives in New Zealand, lucky guy, but he has previously lived in California. Today he shares some insight into his excellent literary work.
Hello Scott. Thanks for having me on your blog.
>> You have written The Children of the Nakba, Redemption Cove, and a collection of short stories, Shorter Journeys. Am I missing anything?
Those are my books available through Amazon, Ingram Spark, SmashWords, and Kobo. Additionally, I have a paperback book of illustrated poems called Scenes from a Life, which I make available through book groups because of the cost of color printing, but will soon have up as an E-Book. I also have some work published in anthologies.
>> Do you feel that being a writer of various genres makes it more difficult to attract an audience?
Yes and no. Attracting an audience these days is hard for everyone. The flood of self-published books over the past few years has really diluted the market. You have to be prepared to work hard at it, via all means available. For me that means Twitter, Facebook, book-clubs, writers groups, and mutual of mouth with other writers I respect, as well as my general contacts. Having more than one genre gives me different target markets to work with, but there’s always the problem of spreading one’s self too thin as well.
>> When you read for pleasure, what do you prefer?
I follow other authors mostly, and go where they go. I was lucky in discovering your terrific Alien series and then enjoyed a number of your other books, whereas I wouldn’t normally have gone looking for science fiction. Mario Puzo reignited my love of reading as a teenager, and then the South African Writer Wilbur Smith cemented it with one of his early books, Eagle in the Sky, which also importantly piqued my interest in Israel. I enjoy all the current great ones, such as Lew Child, Stephen Coonts, John Grisham, Robert Crais particularly, and most recently Mark Greany, who’s taken over Tom Clancy’s mantle. Another favorite is Dave Edlund with his very good Savage Series. Speaking of going where they go, Dan Winslow’s very fine, The Cartel, has me interested in Mexican crime and politics currently.
>> I am aware that you once traveled to Mexico to do some writing. Does that say that environment plays a part in your writing?
As far as an environment to work in goes, yes, I was lucky to spend some devoted time in lovely Baja last year and found it fascinating and conducive, but I’m far more influenced by events than places. I have the privilege of beautiful horse ranch in NZ to live and write from, so I don’t lack beauty around me.
As for an environment as a setting, I heard Lee Child once say in a talk, that people think he studied the American south, but he actually got the idea for the red clay in most of his early books from watching My Cousin Vinnie on DVD. He feels environmental inspiration should be as far in the past as possible, and I tend to agree. Dwelling on a book’s setting can flatten out the emotion if overdone. I’m fond of the Pacific Northwest, but it was more of a metaphor for escaping to somewhere beautiful to heal, when I wrote Redemption Cove. Likewise, I have a deep interest in Israel as shown in The Children of the Nakba, but it’s the social/military/political dynamics that drive my work in that direction.
>> Where do you look for inspiration?
I write a lot of outlines, just sketches that flesh out a scene, or develop a ‘what if?’ thought. Some become short stories, such as Saving John Denver or Defying God, from Shorter Journeys. Others shrink down to what I feel is their purest form and become poems. Once in a while a character will take hold and begin to grow real, and I just follow it. Likewise a good storyline is hard to let go.
That said, The Children of the Nakba is a special case. It arose from experiencing the event it describes through the pain of an Israeli friend, in college, and needing to profoundly understand what it must have been like.
>> What motivates you to write?
As the most basic, if I didn’t write, I honestly wouldn’t know who I was. But on a day to day basis, I love to vicariously live out my characters’ adventures. Go on journeys with them, if you like.
>>What are your pet peeves with other writers? In other words, what turns you off about a piece of writing?
A piece of reading for me, has to have a strong opening. I try to give my readers the same thing. A book that starts out well, but becomes preachy because the writer lapses into driving home their point of view rather than entertaining me, loses my interest too. Other than that I like all kinds of writing and subjects, and try to give a writer every opportunity to grab me, even putting a book down and starting over sometimes, because I know how hard it is to do and how much a writer gives to a work.
>> How would you describe your writing technique?
I live by the creed that the first draft is your art, and the next ten or so, are your craft. I write the first draft in Word, fighting hard not to rewrite as I go. Then I rewrite and rewrite until the book feels right. Then I run the result through some tools such as Grammarly and Ginger, and do the final re-structure in Scrivener. I’m a big fan of Beta reading, and enjoy doing that for other writers too.
>> What are you working on at the moment?
They are dragging on a little bit, but I have a follow-up to The Children of the Nakba about ready to go (actually a prequel.) Also a sequel to Redemption Cove set in France, involving some lost art and a cooking school. After that I believe my RC character Ben Adams has some more adventures yet to discover.
>>Please share your social media links and handles and links to where readers can find you.
Point of View Excerpt Welcome Rave Review Book Club (RRBC) members, ASMSG members, unaffiliated sundry onlookers, and surfer stumble-bys! You might know me as Stephen Geez, but right now you’re meeting (revisiting?)…