DB Shan talks Procession of the Dead
Compiled by Jack Foley
ACCLAIMED author DB Shan talks about his career and offers some useful advice to prospective novelists on the best way to go about completing that all-important first work…
Q. What would your advice be to aspiring writers who are about to begin the process of writing their first novel?
DB Shan: Write the sort of story you would like to read. Don’t worry about the market and what’s hot and what’s not. Write for fun, for yourself, and worry about the selling later. The reality is, most writers don’t make a lot of money, so you’re better off not worrying about the angles. Just go for it and aim to write the best damn stories you can. If you manage to sell them and make the bestseller charts, that’s a bonus — but it shouldn’t be your goal.
Q. The actual process of writing a novel seems to differ drastically from writer-to-writer. Can you talk us through your method. Has it remained the same for every book you’ve written?
DB Shan: I write a first draft very swiftly – I do about 10 pages a day. I’ll then stagger the editing process over a number of years. I like to leave a first draft for a few months, sometimes even longer, so that when I return to it, I can view it more objectively. I’ll do an edit, leave it for a while, edit it again, and so on. So it usually takes me two years or longer to complete any single book, but I’ll juggle several around over that period – I don’t just work on one book at a time.
Q. Where do you draw your ideas and inspiration from?
DB Shan: Life. It’s the same for every writer – we get ideas from things we see on the street, books we read, movies we watch, songs we listen to, gossip we overhear. The difficult part of writing isn’t getting ideas – it’s converting ideas into stories.
Q. Do you have any particular way in which you get into character to write the prose?
DB Shan: No. I just sit down and write.
Q. Is there a particular way in which you create fictional characters for your books?
DB Shan: The characters always develop by themselves. I work hard on the story, the plot twists and structure, and I usually break down a book pretty thoroughly before I begin. But I never know much about what the characters are going to be like until I start writing. They grow out of the process.
Q. Do you have an author or book that you’d say has inspired you the most since you began life as an author?
DB Shan: I’ve taken inspiration from all sorts of books. But one that had a huge effect on me was Salem’s Lot by Stephen King. I came across it when I was a kid, and it was the first book I read that showed you could do horror in a modern way.
Q. Do you know what your next project is yet?
DB Shan: Because of the way I work, I’m always a few years ahead of my publication schedule, so yes, I know what’s coming over the next couple of years. But I don’t like to talk too much about projects in the pipeline — just in case they don’t work out!!
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