David Sodergren lives in Scotland with his wife Heather and his best friend, Boris the Pug. A lifelong devotee of horror, his debut novel, The Forgotten Island was released to much acclaim in 2018.
Up next is Night Shoot, a brutal throwback to the early 80s slasher movie cycle, coming Spring 2019.
He has several more books in various stages of development.
KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?
I’m a Scottish horror author and, more importantly, my best friend is a pug named Boris. I’ve lived in Scotland all my life, and have a degree in film and photography. I used to make music videos for local bands, but quickly realised I don’t like working with other people. The solitary life of a writer suits me much better.
KR: What do you like to do when not writing?
I write and record a lot of music, and I’ve recently tried some painting, to decidedly mixed results. Any downtime is spent watching horror movies and playing video games, as well as keeping the pug out of mischief.
KR: What is your favourite childhood book?
My earliest fave was probably the anarchist classic The Tiger Who Came to Tea, though more on-brand were The Hardy Boys and Alfred Hitchcock’s Three Investigators. To be honest, from about age six or seven it had to be horror, or at least horror-adjacent. The Hardy Boys’ Ghost Stories is probably the book I read the most as a child, thanks to the phenomenally spooky scarecrow on the cover.
KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?
I can’t narrow it down, you monster. The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds is up there, as is Siamese Dream by The Smashing Pumpkins.
Music plays an enormous role in my writing. It can spark ideas and images, and suggest stories and scenes. Coming from a film background, I very much picture my stories as movies, imaging edits and soundtracks as I write, so I carefully curate writing playlists specific to what title I’m currently working on. These are usually movie soundtracks. I can’t imagine writing in silence!
KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director?
Why must you make me choose? It’s a cruel question. There are too many. Of course I love the classic North American directors like Carpenter, Romero and Cronenberg, but my true passion is Euro-horror, so directors like Lucio Fulci, Dario Argento, Michele Soavi and Jess Franco are among my favourites. But I can’t pick just one. I can’t!
KR: What are you reading now?
This year I’m trying to mostly read current books, rather than my usual go-to of pulp horror from the 60s-80s. Having said that, I’m re-reading Stephen King’s Misery at the moment, and loving it.
KR: What was the last great book you read?
I just finished Punchline by Bradley Freeman, which isn’t horror, but is surely gonna be one of the best books I read all year. It’s a crazy action comedy, like a Jackie Chan manga or something. He wrote a book called REEK back in 2015, which is one of the best modern horror novels I’ve read.
KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?
Paperback, though my Kindle has changed the way I read. I only bought it so i could edit my own stories on my breaks at work, but I do most of my reading on it now. I have no interest in hardbacks – sure, they look lovely, but the lack of portability means I never read them. The only hardbacks I own are titles that have never been published in paperback.
KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?
I’d love to blindside you with an extraordinarily original answer, but goddamn it if it wasn’t Stephen King. The master aside though, my second biggest influence would probably be Shaun Hutson. He’s lesser known in the States, but imagine a cross between the rainy British misery of James Herbert and the sleazy, pulpy thrills of Richard Laymon. I picked up a copy of Spawn in a charity shop in the early 90s, and my life was forever changed when those blood-thirsty aborted foetuses marched their way off the page and into my heart.
KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?
100% outline. It’s essential for me, and I’m in awe of people who manage to write without one. That’s not to say i stick to it, oh no, but I need that framework to know where I’m at least supposed to be going! I treat my outline as a first draft, writing notes for every chapter. This way, even before you’ve started writing you can have an idea of the pacing of the book, whether you’re going too long without a bit of action or gore or sex, haha.
KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Very little before I start. For The Forgotten Island, I had just visited Thailand, and took lots of reference photos, then when I got home I watched YouTube videos of Full Moon Parties and Thai cave networks, as well as urban exploration vids of abandoned structures.
Honestly, research isn’t important to me. I want basic facts to be correct, sure, but I don’t need to know the names of fauna in the Thai jungle. Sometimes, too much research can kill a book stone dead. There’s always a bit in pulpy horror novels where a professor or scientist explains something to our hero, and it’s pages and pages of mind-melting tedium, where the author shows off all the research he’s done. I don’t give a shit, get on with the story! What I try to do in my writing is cut out the boring bits, the parts I always skip in books. I don’t need the entire contents of a room described to me in great detail. I don’t need pages of exposition. I don’t need to know what every character is wearing. Readers have great imaginations – let them use them!
KR: How would you describe your writing style?
I think I just answered that! I want my stories to fast-paced and highly readable, and will ruthlessly cut out things that I think are slowing the plot down. I deleted an entire 70 page subplot from The Forgotten Island because it wasn’t working for me, and believe me, the book was all the better for it.
KR: Describe your usual writing day?
Well, I have a day job, sadly. I write as often as I can, though sometimes that can be as little as once or twice a week. Life gets in the way, y’know. On my days off, I try and get up early to take Boris out a walk to tire him, so that hopefully he’ll sleep for a few hours and not bother me.
He loves attention, and when I’m writing I can’t give him any, so he tends to walk back and forth over the keyboard and somehow delete whole passages of writing with his little paws. Thank goodness for the UNDO function.
KR: Do you read your book reviews?
Yes. So far, the reviews have been — for the most part — phenomenal, and I love and appreciate everyone who’s taken the time to write one. It’s always useful to know how your book is being received, even if I don’t always agree, haha.
KR: What scares you?
Spiders, also getting old and senile and losing whatever nonsense it is that makes me who I am.
KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?
NIGHT SHOOT is my homage to the slasher movies of the 80s. I wanted to write a really fun, short novel, lean and mean with not an ounce of fat. As I wrote it though, things just kept getting darker and nastier and more violent. I hope it’s still fun, but man, it’s a cruel, savage book. A slasher novel for misanthropes.
KR: What are you working on now?
Several things. I have three first drafts written, so I need to choose which one to work on for my next novel. There’s a brutal coming of age story, an urban thriller, and a spooky ghost story. I’m also in the early, early stages of co-writing a novel with the excellent Canadian author Steve Stred, as well as adapting my long-running Video Nasty blog series into a definitive history with another co-author, Rob Teun.
The next few years are gonna be damn busy!
KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why?
You can choose…
a) One fictional character from your writing.
b) One fictional character from any other book.
c) One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.
If you’ve read my book The Forgotten Island, you’ll know that being trapped on a desert island is bad news. With this in mind, I’ll just go myself and spare the others from…well, I guess you’ll have to read the book and find out!
KR: Thank you David.
KR: David also features monthly on Kendall Reviews with his movie review feature Visions From Beyond The Dave
You can follow David on Twitter @paperbacksnpugs
To find out more about David please visit his official website www.paperbacksandpugs.wordpress.com
Find David on Instagram here
A group of desperate student filmmakers break into Crawford Manor for an unauthorised night shoot. They have no choice. Their lead actress has quit. They’re out of time. They’re out of money.
They’re out of luck.
For Crawford Manor has a past that won’t stay dead, and the crew are about to come face-to-face with the hideous secret that stalks the halls.
Will anyone survive…the NIGHT SHOOT?
A delirious homage to the slasher movies of the 1980s, Night Shoot delivers page after page of white-knuckle terror.
The Forgotten Island
When Ana Logan agrees to go on holiday to Thailand with her estranged sister Rachel, she hopes it will be a way for them to reconnect after years of drifting apart.
But now, stranded on a seemingly deserted island paradise with no radio and no food, reconciliation becomes a desperate fight for survival.
For when night falls on The Forgotten Island, the dark secrets of the jungle reveal themselves.
Something is watching them from the trees.
Combining the cosmic horrors of HP Lovecraft with the grimy sensibilities of the Video Nasties, The Forgotten Island is an outrageous old-school horror novel packed with mayhem and violence.
You can read what Kendall Reviews thought about The Forgotten Island here