13 April, 2016

#Interview with David John Griffin, #Author of The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb

About the Author:
David John Griffin is a writer, graphic designer and app designer, and lives in a small town by the Thames in Kent, UK with his wife Susan and two dogs called Bullseye and Jimbo. He is currently working on the first draft of a third novel as well as writing short stories for a novel-length collection.

His first novel – published by Urbane Publications in October 2015 – is called The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb. The second is a literary/psychological novel, entitled Infinite Rooms. He has independently-published a magical realism/paranormal novella called Two Dogs At The One Dog Inn. One of his short stories was shortlisted for The HG Wells Short Story competition 2012 and published in an anthology.

Interview with the Author:

When did you first realize that you wanted to be a writer/ a storyteller?
From the age of five. I remember way back then, in class at primary school, when the teacher gave us a piece of paper and a pencil each and asked us to write a short story. After I had filled the first page, I went up to the teacher and asked for another sheet of paper. She replied, in a delighted tone, “Another piece of paper?” I must have asked for at least another three sheets and the encouraging remark with a smile was always the same.
I knew I wanted to write then. Though towards the end of this first story, my writing became half inch high letters – despite the thirst to write instilled in me, I was too young to know what I wanted to write about.
At the age of fourteen, I wrote a 100 pages in longhand at my parents’ dinner table, an unusual science fiction story. Reading it recently, I was struck as to how surreal and naive it is. But that’s to be expected, I guess.
Which leads me up to the ‘70’s when I wrote Alastair Stubb at art college, the urge to write strong within me.
Despite that, my second novel wasn’t started until another ten years after, in the mid 80’s. (Called Infinite Rooms, due to be published May next year by Urbane Publications).

What inspires you to write?
The love of words and the thirst to be read.  There’s not much better than knowing there are readers reading my words, and hopefully enjoying the story  I’m telling.

How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
For the third novel I’m working on – who’s title is being kept secret for the while! – I had the germ of the idea probably five years ago or more. And like my other two novels, the germ of the idea grew over time in my mind before I started writing. It wasn’t ready until I knew the beginning and the end. This goes for all of my writing, I must know the start and end points, even though they may change at some point in the future.

Are there some stories tucked away in some drawer that was written before and never saw the light of the day?
My 100 page science fiction story previously mentioned and many short ideas, which might one day turn into stories.

Tell us about your writing process.
I’m very inconsistent. In two ways, firstly, there are periods of time – months even – when I’m not writing, even when I’m in the flow of writing another novel. This used to worry me but I’ve learned that that’s just the way it is and I consider it as “recharging my creative batteries”. I’ve a firm belief that my sub- and unconscious mind works on the novel while I’m away from it and helps when I get back to it. Secondly, when I’m actually writing, it can be as little as 50 words or as many as 1,000 words a day. 
As for research, I don’t tend to research anything for any of my novels until it’s finished. Only then will I check and confirm certain points. But even then there doesn’t tend to be many – it would certainly be different if I ever write a historical-based novel.

What is your favorite scene in the book? Why?
I have a few favourite scenes in The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb, one being the chapter called The Party where the unfortunate Mr Badger is hypnotized by the evil Theodore in his manor house. Another favourite of mine involves a spoiler so I can’t really mention it!

Did any of your characters inherit some of your own quirks?
Interesting question. I don’t think so even though I’m sure I have many quirks.

Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I have many favourite authors, new and old, but I’ll only mention the ones who have had the greatest influence on me and who I have admired and tried to emulate in certain aspects of creative writing: Charles Dickens, Mervyn Peake, Leanora Carrington, Angel Carter, Jorge Louis Borges, Ray Bradbury, H.G. Wells, John Wyndham, Haruki Murakami, David Mitchell.

What is the best piece of advice you have received, as a writer, till date?
When writing a novel first draft, or even a short story first draft for that matter, keep going from beginning to end without looking back. Don’t read what you’ve typed, don’t correct or revise, just plough on to the end. Revision and correction happen in the 2nd and subsequent drafts.

What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
Start writing! That sounds a bit flippant, but it’s the only way. There are some people who say they want to write, to be read, to be published, and never write anything. One has to write to learn a craft which is never totally learnt. One of my sayings is “Creative writing is a passion and a lifelong learning experience.” I would add not to give up. I gave up creative writing for almost twenty years I still regret it to this day. Be prepared for disappointments including  rejections. Develop a thick skin and know that some of the most famous writers had their work rejected at some time or other in their career. Perseverance and determination is needed.

What would be the Dream Cast for you book if it was to be turned into a movie?
Another interesting question. I used to dream of The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb being made into a film – by Tim Burton even. I could see Theodore played by Michael Gambon and William Stubb played by Timothy Spall. I guess if a dream came true and Tim Burton did direct it, Eleanor would be played by Mia Wasikowska or Helena Bonham Carter.

If you were to be stranded on the famous deserted island, what three things would you carry?
A box of matches, a thick notebook and a pencil. (How I’d sharpen the pencil would be a problem to solve though…)

Tell us three fun facts about yourself.
- My old nickname in the 70’s was Spider.
- One of my hobbies is to create apps for the iDevices.
- I have a writing desk in the corner of my garden shed where I enjoy writing, during the summer months, on an iPad. If it gets dark, I light candles so it’s very atmospheric.

What do you have in store next for your readers?
My third novel – an imaginative fantasy novel. Another unusual and quirky tale.
Here is a short description:
Stave Swirler is lost in a nightmarish dream. Or is he? His given mission is to save his Realm before it’s too late. A fantastical journey of strange discovery, in conflict with the malevolent agents of Tremelon Zandar. A surreal and imaginative tale of fantasy and love that will captivate you from beginning to end.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with your readers?
Other than gratitude to my loyal readers, nothing I can think of at the moment until I share my second novel (Infinite Rooms, published by Urbane Publications in June) and my third novel when it’s finished.

Thank you for this interview, Debdatta, I enjoyed it!

About the Book:
The turn of the last century and Theodore Stubb’s manor house resides in the quirky village of Muchmarsh. A renowned entomologist, he is often within the attic adding another exotic specimen to his extensive collection of insects. But Theodore is also a master hypnotist, holding the household in thrall to his every whim.
Theodore’s daughter-in-law Eleanor – returned from the sanatorium two months before – is a haunted figure, believing that her stillborn child Alastair lives and hides in the shadows. Then she falls pregnant again, but this time by the hypnotic coercion and wicked ravishment of Theodore. A dreadful act begets terrible secrets, and thirteen years later the boy Alastair Stubb begins to lose his identity….it is not long before mystery, intrigue and murder follow gleefully in his wake.

The Unusual Possession of Alastair Stubb is a gothic terror of the highest order, delivering a dream-like and hallucinatory reading experience that promises to reveal secrets both disturbing and astonishing. Do you dare meet the Stubbs?

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