Q: Tell us about yourself. What got you into writing?
JD: A simple question yet it has so many different answers. I have always delved into the darker side of creation, being a huge lover of horror movies and vampire books since being a kid.
Fear is the most primal human emotion out there, certainly, the fear of the unknown and I loved the feeling of being scared more than anything else. My mind would conjure up dark creatures following me up the stairs at night, or things that would drag me down the plughole when taking a shower.
But I think the earliest memory I have of wanting to write stories that scare people and evoke that feeling of fingernails crawling up someone’s spine, was when I read a short story when I was around age nine. I can’t remember what it was called, but it was about a young boy who takes a boat out to go fishing on a lake that his mother warned him to never go on. Boys being boys and, with the curiosity of a young child, he did it anyway.
The boy sat on the boat and on the smooth lake water when he found another child was swimming by the boat. The boy in the water had drowned years ago and wanted a friend to play with. The story ends with the child being drowned by the ghost boy, and since reading that story I have both loved ghosts and monsters and have forever developed a fear of open water. Nothing quite leaves an impact like trauma, and it made me into the dark tale weaving man I am today.
Q: Tell us about the premise of Lorna – A Dark Romance.
JD: It sees the story of Christian and his search for love in this complicated world. He is well-spoken, charming and sharp. He meets Lorna during a chance encounter and straight away she infests his mind like spiders hatching from bulbous swollen eggs.
He becomes obsessive, tracking Lorna, manipulating her and also spinning tales in his own mind as to who this woman is and why she must be with him and he with her. Christian has his own darkness inside him and his own past which he keeps locked away, but he uses it to his advantage when he discovers that Lorna’s best friend ‘Cara,’ and himself, have a very ‘unique’ past.
The story is based on the idea of a soul mate, or a twin flame, but through the eyes of a predator and manipulator. The story has a lot of sensitive issues inside, from Narcissism and stalking, to rough sex and murder. It isn’t one for the faint-hearted, and if it upsets readers and makes them reflect and think about the themes explored in the story then good. I did my job.
Q: What inspired you to write it?
JD: Lorna was initially inspired by an abusive relationship that I had gotten out of on New Years Day 2021. After taking some time to work on myself and go through domestic violence therapy, I decided it was time to exorcise my demons fully and write them down.
In the story, I explore how someone can become so unhealthy and dependent on another human being through manipulation and gaslighting, and through that, and a victim of abuse can become abusive in order to survive. I enjoyed switching the narrative of the story and using crossing timelines to give the reader something to think about and to try and make sense of. The story is designed to be chaotic because that is what it represents. It’s much more than just a story with a beginning and an end. It has layers. Its themes are raw, and the point of view of the narrator is vulnerable yet obsessive and manipulative. The timelines and the character arcs are fluctuating and brilliantly dysfunctional because when you are in a difficult and abusive relationship, you have no idea which way is up.
Q: Do you agree with the statement write what you know? Why or why not?
JD: To an extent – I believe you should incorporate your knowledge of a certain subject when appropriate, and if you have something specific that you know about a topic and it helps the story, then fill your boots. I have seen authors write stories about their profession prior to becoming a writer however and they do it as a way of literary masturbation and self-indulgence, getting off on how much they know about plug socket wiring or some shit.
You should step into something that excites you. It’s boring to write about the same thing all the time. You should use your knowledge to assist your writing, not compel and lead it. That’s what the characters are there for. As much as you think you are in the driving seat – You often aren’t. It’s the characters that the readers are rooting for. They only think of you when you kill one of them off.
Q: Do you think creative writing classes are beneficial? Why or why not?
JD: Yes and no. I am in and have been in a few of them. Some of them are very good and they will give you honest feedback on your work. Others are simply there to stroke the egos of bad writers by telling them they’re the next bestselling author in (insert terrible cliché genre trope here) and that they should quit their day job immediately and go live in the land of milk and honey.
If you run a writing group, then be honest to those that present you with their writing. If you can’t give them honest feedback, then they shouldn’t be coming to you. Equally, if you are in a writing workshop, you better have tough skin. It’s a lion pit.
Q: Do you enjoy editing?
JD: It’s less that I enjoy it, and more that I couldn’t stop doing it even if I tried. It’s a form of madness.
But yes. Just like the essence of life itself, it is filled with extreme joy and unbearable pain at times, but it is the beast that must be fed.
Q: How do you juggle your writing and life?
JD: Firstly – I don’t watch television. It’s boring, and on the rare occasion I do watch it, I normally don’t get too stuck on a particular show.
Secondly – You have to look after your mind, body and health. This means eat right, move and sleep enough and get some damn sunshine on your skin. If you want to have good energy, then you have to treat your body right for those nights when you are crunching the words away in the evening after a 12-hour shift at your day job and you have put the kids to bed.
But mainly – I find writing so much fun. I love writing, reading, and making YouTube videos and online content for my other channels. I don’t see writing as separate to life. Writing is life, and life is writing (it’s okay if you vomit at how cheesy that sounds. I already have myself.)
Q: Do you write in other genres? Have you ever written in different mediums? (Poetry, screenwriting, playwrighting, song writing, journalism etc)
JD: I used to write dramas and scripts in college, but I stick to only fiction now I do it more professionally and seriously, but I do like to write blog posts here and there.
I do have a few genres I like to dip into. I write horror and dark fantasy predominantly, but I also like writing a little satire and some tragic romance here and there. Basically, if it’s on the darker side of life, then ill give it a go.
Q: If you could invite a fictional character for lunch (from your own book(s) or another writer’s), who would you invite and why?
JD: Jesus. (Just kidding.) I would have the main character from the zombie series Mountain Man by Keith C Blackmore named ‘Augustus Berry.’ He’s an ordinary guy who overcomes incredible odds and makes something really amazing out of himself. That, I believe, is what a real superhero is, and someone that can change a hellish situation into something which benefits themselves, and others, and makes the world a better place as a result of it is welcome at my dinner table any day.
Q: What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
JD: It’s tough kid, don’t do it. Or if you do do it, then stick to it. If you stick to it, stick to it for a long time. Learn and mould, create often and be consistent with your message, brand and production. You will never know everything, and you will always have that self doubt on your shoulder. Good. Listen to that voice as it keeps you learning and keeps you hungry and improving to be better.
Your fans are gods. Treat them with dignity. Fight for every inch, and don’t let the fact that just because nothing is happening, stop something from happening. You just have to keep grinding, keep creating, keep getting yourself out there and bit by bit your following will build.
Don’t compare yourself to others that are doing better than you. You are looking at them where they are now, and not where they were when they were starting out like you are.
Also – Buy a good computer and a good chair. Your back will thank you.
Q: What are your future plans as an author? Are you working on another project?
JD: At this moment in time I have a tonne of projects on the go, from a horror sequel to my debut novel The Space Between Heaven and Hell, as well as a zombie book and a crime thriller and I have to start editing my dark fantasy sequel soon.
On top of this, I have a YouTube channel designed to help writers, I have a Podcast to read indie’s work, and I have a blog and mailing list I need to look after.
I have a kid I need to care for too. I think…
I want to be able to live off what I do, and that’s it. I don’t need to be a gazillionaire, I just want to make a living doing something that makes me happy.
Q: Thank you for participating! How can we keep up with you?
JD: All of my links are in this one handy place. My books, my mailing list, my podcast, socials, cure for bad breath, how to raise Satan in just seven simple steps, a cure for hangovers and my YouTube channel.