Thursday, 19 February 2009

Author Interview! David Moody

As soon as I finished reading 'Hater' I was full of questions about the book. Luckily for me, David was kind enough to answer these questions for me. Here's what he had to say...

Hi David! Thanks for agreeing to answer a few questions for the blog, I really appreciate it.

1)You’ve made a name for yourself writing apocalyptic fiction of either the zombie (‘Autumn’) or lunatic psycho (‘Hater’) kind. Having spent so much time writing about the fallout of such events I refuse to believe that you don’t have a backup plan ready in case zombies infest your home town. Would you care to share this plan? What would you do if zombies were trying to break down your door?

It’s so weird... I do find myself thinking about the end of the world with alarming regularity, so much so that I’ve even found myself putting a few extra items in the shopping trolley each week ‘just in case’! Given the way the world’s heading right now, it doesn’t seem too far-fetched to think that we might be facing Armageddon sooner than we think! In reality though, if zombies did invade my home town, I know exactly what I’d do. I live literally on the edge of a city; plastic and concrete on one side, rolling fields on the other. I’d pack up the family and get as far away from civilization as I could. I’m not telling you where I’d go. Imagine that... the unthinkable happens and I head to my safe-haven only to find it already taken by readers of your blog!

2)Talking of the ‘Autumn’ series, I hear that these have now been acquired for publication by Thomas Dunne books. Will there be any changes to the original material? How excited are you about the prospect of these books reaching a new audience? (I loved the downloadable versions by the way. There has been many a time, in a job that I no longer do, where my manager thought I was reviewing documentation. If only he knew...)

I’m absolutely thrilled that the ‘Autumn’ books are going to be available to a wider audience. I’m proud of the concept and each of the novels. It’s great to have been able to put a new spin on such a tried and tested staple of countless horror movies and books. The books will be given a ‘spring clean’ and tidied up and yes, there will be some changes from the original releases. I’m hoping to substantially expand ‘Autumn: The Human Condition’ which I’ve described as ‘part-guide book, part companion to the end of the world’. I want to add a few more short stories, some of which might finally help explain what caused billions of people to drop dead unexpectedly! Also, there will be the first release of ‘Autumn: Disintegration’, the fifth book which I finished writing literally days before offers were made to me for the series. It’s a novel which I’m very pleased with and I’m looking forward to getting it out!

3)Back to ‘Hater’, what gave you the inspiration to write a book where people suddenly turn on their friends/neighbours and kill them?

I’d always had an idea for a story which involved the human race ‘splitting’. I wanted to examine the impact that would have if people were forced to take a side, rather than choosing to. Originally, I’d planned for half of the population to become physically repulsive to the other! But then, in July 2005, I saw footage of the London suicide bombers which chilled me to the core. Incredibly, one of them was a classroom assistant in a primary school. I couldn’t believe how someone could have such a positive, important and trustworthy job, and then, literally days later, be on the Underground with a bomb strapped to their back, ready to kill as many people as possible. Those two themes combined were really the genesis of Hater.

4)While you don’t really say what causes someone to become a Hater, it’s clear that characters in the book walk a knife edge where they could turn at any time. Do you think that people have that capacity to turn in an instant or is this just something that you came up with for the book?

It’s very much a plot device! But then again, I do think that in today’s society people are constantly pushed, sometimes to the limit. And yes, we’ve probably all got a pressure point that, once reached, will force us to blow. Many people joke about the way the British often find it difficult to express their true emotions. Do you know what I mean? If we’re really, really, really angry about something, we’ll often mutter under our breath then go home and write a letter of complaint about whatever’s happened. In the book the Haters are able to act without any concern or remorse... they feel unrestricted and free.

5)You paint a pretty grim picture of civilisation crumbling under an onslaught of ‘Haters’. Do you think this would be the case in real life or do you have faith that humanity is made of sterner stuff and would cope better?

I do hope that we’d cope better if such a situation arose, but I don’t know. The speed of the breakdown in Hater is due to several factors; firstly, it’s impossible to differentiate ‘us’ from ‘them’ so everyone is under suspicion. Secondly, because this breakdown happens at a personal, individual level, it’s impossible to police – you’ve got literally millions of individual battles being fought simultaneously. Finally, the scope of the ‘condition’ means that anyone can be affected, from the youngest child to the Prime Minister and everyone in between. So the police, the armed forces, the government and every other organisation that’s there to protect us is on its knees like everyone else.

6)When you emailed me, you mentioned that you deliberately don’t use genuine places or landmarks (in response to a point I raised in my review). Why is this? If you ever change your mind I can think of a few places...

Again, that’s something I do for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I’d like to think that my books will last and that they’ll be read for years, so I deliberately don’t tie myself down to specific places that might change or make reference to landmarks which might disappear. Secondly, I think most writers write what they know about and inevitably there are echoes of my life in all the books I write. They’re often set in places I know and characters sometimes have traits belonging to people I’ve met. I guess what I’m saying is names are changed to protect the innocent!

7)Over the course of ‘Hater’ you provide little breaks from the main plot where you show various people (from all walks of life) becoming Haters. In terms of the violence you portray (and who it was happening to) did you find any of these scenes harder to write than others? Were there any scenes that you (or your editor) felt were too violent for the book?

It sometimes worries me when I look back at some of the things I’ve written but no, there’s nothing I’ve found hard to write and nothing that didn’t make the final edit. That said, I deliberately wrote the violent scenes in a very matter-of-fact way and tried not to sensationalise. To the Haters, the things they are doing are normal and necessary. It worries me going forward, because book two in the series in particular is relentlessly and necessarily violent as the war between the Haters and the ‘Unchanged’ intensifies. I think, however, that this is what would happen. It’s like fighting fire with fire; the reaction of the side under attack in the circumstances I describe is to try and hit their attackers harder than they’re hitting them.

8)You’ve sold the film rights, for ‘Hater’, to Guillermo del Toro. How did it feel closing a deal like that? Is there anything you can tell us about when we might get to see the film?

I still find it hard to believe that Guillermo del Toro and J A Bayona are involved in the project! It might sound clich├ęd, but it really is a dream come true. I’ve followed del Toro’s films since ‘Cronos’ and he’s long been a hero of mine. And I was completely blown away by ‘The Orphanage’; I can’t wait to see what Bayona does with the story. I don’t know when the film will be released. They’re in pre-production right now, still working on the script I understand.

9)For those who haven’t read the reviews etc, tell us why we should all be reading ‘Hater’. Oh, I forgot to say that you’ve only got ten words to do it in. I’ll buy you a drink if you can do it in fewer than five!

I’ve struggled with this one! So here’s a compromise – five(ish) unconnected words which describe the book:

Relentless, uncomfortable, bloody, thought-provoking, plausible.

10)I'll buy you that drink! ‘Hater’ is the first book in a trilogy. Is there anything that you’d like to tell us about the sequel ‘Dog Blood’?

It’s difficult to say too much about ‘Dog Blood’ without giving away the ending of the first book. Suffice to say, as ‘Hater’ becomes more intense page by page, the emotions and action continue to increase throughout the second book! Both sides, the Haters and the Unchanged, understand that they cannot coexist. It’s a question of which side can wipe the other out first!

11)And finally, for any readers who have been bitten by the bug and fancy writing a similar book, what would you say is the golden rule that you must stick to when writing a book like this?

There are no golden rules, I genuinely believe that. Perhaps the only thing I would say is that, with a book like Hater, there’s a heck of a lot of violence and generally unpleasant things happening with alarming regularity! Every drop of blood that’s spilt, however, every bone that’s broken and every life that’s taken... all these things are completely integral to the plot. Violence which just exists for violence’s sake, to my mind, is a real turn-off. It’s easy for an author to lose their audience by trying to shock instead of telling their story.

Thanks for your time David, I really appreciate it!

It’s a pleasure! Thanks Graeme!

Check out David Moody's website Here.


SciFiGuy said...

Interesting interview. Good to get some more info after last weeks viral video.

Mo from Unmainstream Mom Reads said...

Hater sounds great! I can't wait to read it.

Dave said...

Very cool interview, thanks Graeme! I'm so bloody curious about this book - going to track it down or get the publishers here to find me a copy!

Zoe said...

Sounds like a fascinating read, yet another one for me to add to the list :)