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Wednesday, 7 May 2008
Talking With Colin Davies
Topic: Blog Tours
Colin Davies the person:

1.What three words do you think describe you as a human being?

Creative, perfectionist. father

2.How do you think others would describe you?

As something of an enigma

3.Please tell us what you are most passionate about outside of writing.

Music. I love rock music of all types, but especially the progressive variety: Spock's Beard, Camel, Transatlantic, Marillion, Porcupine Tree, Flower Kings etc. I used to play guitar, both rock and classical, but now I'm out of the habit. My son, Chris, who is nineteen, plays drums in a local rock band.

4. Do you have any pets? If so, introduce us to them.

Two kittens: Paddy and Sally – brother and sister – though you'd never guess it. Paddy is big, brave, friendly and fluffy, with a squirrel's tail. Sally is small, jittery, short-haired, with half a tail (genetics – not an accident), but she's still lovable.

5. What is your most precious memory?

That's a hard one. There are a lot. Probably watching Chris in suit and bow-tie play Chopin's Raindrop Prelude to win the piano first prize and cup in the Bromborough Music Festival – at the age of about eleven.

6. What is your most embarrassing memory?

That's Chris again. It would be the time we were in a caf? and Chris, aged about six, said to the waitress, "You look very fat!" He was right, but I wanted to hide under the table. Strangely enough, a year later she'd lost weight.

7.If you weren't a writer, what would you be doing with your life?

Pretty much the same thing. By profession, I'm a building surveyor and I have a full time day job. If I wasn't writing, I'd be getting more sleep.

8. In two paragraphs or less write your obituary.

Colin P. Davies will be best remembered as the first author to type an entire novel with his tongue. "A Taste of Plastic" was an international bestseller and Pulitzer prize winner. In 2019 he successfully sued the National Investigator for its claim that the book was in fact ghost-tongued. The following year his autobiography, "Three Thousand Uses for a Bad Review", reached number one in the Vogue Hot Hundred, and he finally achieved his lifetime ambition to bungy jump underwater. He is survived by 35 children, two cats, and a house-robot named Gwendoline.

Colin Davies the writer:

9. Can you describe the time you realized you were indeed a "real" writer?

Attending my first Milford SF Writers Conference was a huge leap for me and an acceptance that I was in this for real and for a long time to come. That first year I met Liz Williams, David Redd, Karen Traviss and other professionals. The week-long workshop experience was enlightening, satisfying and totally new, as I'd been very much a solo writer. I went back two more times before life intervened. I credit Milford with lifting me to the next level of writing.

10. What is going on with your writing these days?

Much of my time has been spend promoting my new collection, "Tall Tales on the Iron Horse". At the same time I'm working on a number of short stories, each in various stages of development. I like to have several stories underway at the same time, but the bulk of my attention will be on one. I find I often stall and it's helpful to be able to shift to another story.

11. What are your future goals for your writing?

I hope to interest a major publisher in my first novel, "The Bookmole", based on the short story "Clifford and the Bookmole", which is included in my collection. It's probably best described as a comic fantasy for young adults and older. I also intend to continue with my short stories, as I still get a buzz from the writing and ideas. My other plan is to develop ideas for a second novel, which will be based on my story "Pestworld"; again a not-entirely-serious story. I then intend to start work on a sequel to "The Bookmole", as the characters and possibilities are too much fun to give up.

I'm also a big fan of radio drama, both classic and new. I'd like to try my hand at adapting some of my stories, or even write an original script.

12. Can you describe a typical writing day for you?

I have writing days and non-writing days. I'm by no means organized and tend to grab writing time when I can, which may either mean an hour at the computer, or an hour with a pad and pen. In the time available I'll do whatever business stuff needs doing as priority, then either do revision to stories (which I find enjoyable and fun, and I know that might seem odd to many writers), or work on first drafts (which I usually find excruciatingly hard). I suspect the reason I prefer revision to first draft is because I'm a perfectionist – I enjoy the challenge of getting the sentence just right, or choosing the exact best word.

A first draft for me is a very involved process and I find I can't just rush through to the end. I very rarely pre-plan and often don't know where the story is going. It's not just What happens next? but also What am I trying to say, or make readers feel? What is really going on in the background, or in characters' minds? Can I make the events surprising and fascinating to the reader? How do I build tension and suspense? How do I make events and behavior logical? Are the characters behaving and speaking like real people? Can I pull off an ending that is surprising, though obvious in retrospect, and/or emotionally satisfying? You can see why I find revision easier.


13. Why do you write?

It's a combination of enjoying the process of writing, the creation of worlds and characters, and the satisfaction of finishing and publishing a story. I've been writing since I was about ten years old, when I compiled slim books of handwritten horror stories, based on the stories kids were telling each other in school. Later, I typed up a book and bound it myself (it was rubbish, but gave me a thrill at the time). I guess I've always had the writing bug. And I write science fiction because my Dad introduced me at an early age to Eric Frank Russell and I followed that up by reading my older brother's "Starship Troopers". Once you're hooked, it's hard to get free. The authors I was reading back then wrote both science fiction and fantasy and, to me, the two genres are inextricably intertwined. I'm comfortable working in either, or blurring the boundaries.

14. What writer most inspires you? Why?

Undoubtedly, Ray Bradbury. There is something in his themes and ideas that I find familiar. I understand where he's coming from. I feel his intense nostalgia for childhood and the sense of wonder (and horror) for the future. And he has the skill with words to really communicate with emotion. To be fair, I would also have to mention Jack Vance, whose stories have entertained and inspired me for decades.

15. How do you define your writing?

I'm proud to write science fiction. I don't feel the need to call it speculative fiction. I also venture occasionally into fantasy and horror and anywhere else that takes my fancy.

16.In one sentence—what do you want people to say about your writing in fifty years?

That the original stories are still superior to all the Hollywood blockbusters and Broadway musicals that were based on them.

Colin Davies the details:

17. Can you tell us where to find more information on you? Website? Blog?

My website is at www.colinpdavies.com News is regularly updated. You can also find a short biography at www.bewilderingpress.com and some new uncollected stories at www.bewilderingstories.com

18. Is there a place where readers can reach you?

Readers can contact me at colinpdav@yahoo.co.uk

19. Can you list all your book titles so people can look for them?

My short stories are listed in the bibliography on my website. I have only the one book in print at the moment: Tall Tales on the Iron Horse. I've also appeared in The Year's Best SF #22 edited by Gardner Dozois, and The First Bewildering Stories Anthology. Currently I'm in Strange Worlds of Lunacy an anthology of funny stories, poems and artwork, and I'll soon have a story in another anthology, Things Are Not What They Seem.

20. For new readers—what can they expect when they read your book(s)?

Ideas, surprises, emotion, humor, stories with meaning and stories whose meaning is simply fun. Science fiction, fantasy, weird, surrealist, horror and comic stories.

In conclusion:

21. Take as much space as necessary to speak to our readers—what would you like them to know about you and your writing?

I respect my readers and expect them to do some of the work. I won't always spell out exactly what is going on or why. The clues are there and the perceptive reader will find them. It's a difficult balancing act which I perhaps haven't always got right. I like a story to resonate – to leave the reader still partly in the story world, asking questions, or feeling for the characters, or simply chuckling. My writing tends to be concise. It has been said that I don't do description. That's not entirely true; I like to handle description and setting with just a few telling details. My stories can therefore be shorter and tighter than some readers are comfortable with, but equally many readers appreciate this approach.

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