Z: A Love Story Author Dave McCluskey talks to Kendall Reviews.

Dave McCluskey is a writer of novels, graphic novels and comics, currently living in Liverpool with his daughter.

He began writing in 2011, creating his first comic publication entitled Interesting Tymes. This is an anthology of short horror stories written in rhyme for children and adults, introducing the world to Edward D’Ammage. The first book was quickly followed by Interesting Tymes x 2 and the spin off series called Edward D’Ammage Presents: The Wedding.

Dave then moved on to more adult related fiction, bringing out the one shot Wooden Heart, followed by the full graphic novel Doppelganger.

He then moved on to produce a number of comics and graphic novels, including The Few, a zombie series, DeathDay Presents, a graphic novel comedy based in Hell, Three Days in the City, The Adventures of Mace Masoch and many more. He has written and produced a full graphic novel for children entitled OLF, a clever twist on an old Christmas tale. Spurred on by this, he partnered up with artist Joe Matthews and they produced a retelling of the classic Christmas tale A Christmas Carol, re-writing it completely in rhyme.

Dave then turned his sights onto writing novels. His debut novel The Twelve was released in 2017 to great reviews. This was followed by a collaboration with a local, Liverpool music historian, to produce a historical thriller called In The Mood… For Murder, based in Liverpool in 1946.

Dave’s next novel was a dark, brutal psychological horror entitled CRACK, which tackles the issues of PTSD and addiction.

His latest novel is a romance/horror/comedy crossover called Z: A Love Story.

His future works will include horrors, thrillers, children’s books and YA adventures. He refuses to be pigeon-holed…

KR: Coffee?

KR: Could you tell me a little about yourself please?

Wow… where do I begin? I’m from Liverpool in the UK. I am the proud father of a gorgeous eleven year old daughter and I have a putrid day-time job that I loathe…

I’ve been writing for about ten years now and I produce novels and graphic novels… I love Indian food, football (not telling you my team as it seems to put some people off, but they DON’T play in red). I love watching films, reading books and listening to good rock music (also don’t mind some rubbish rock music too). I can’t stand lager but am partial to couple of pints of real ale every now and then, my drink of choice is spiced rum with fiery ginger ale, or on Christmas Day it’s pretty much gin, with anything… (specially more gin).

I’m a little overweight, I’m too old for my brain, and too young for my age. My dress sense is questionable, I eat too many biscuits, I love the idea of exercise but in practice I never seem to have the time, and I’m divorced…

KR: What do you like to do when not writing?

When I’m not writing I am thinking of what I should be writing next. If I’m not thinking about what I’m writing next then I’m daydreaming about what I could be, or should be writing. If I’m not doing that, then I’m editing…

I am a part time stand-up comedian, and I used to play in a band. I love music. It’s a passion, but I’m a ‘play by numbers’ musician… as anyone I have been in a band with will tell you.

KR: What is your favourite childhood book?

Never really had a childhood book that I can think of. When I was a kid I was bought Rudyard Kipling’s The jungle Book and The Second Jungle Book, I also had some H Rider Haggard’s novels, like She and King Soloman’s Mines. I was eleven when I read my first Stephen King book (Skeleton Crew, anthologies of short stories), and that kicked me off in a big way, loving horror more and more…

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So the stand out book of my childhood was The Stand, followed by IT.

KR: What is your favourite album, and does music play any role in your writing?

How long have you got for me to answer this question???

Music plays a MAJOR role in my writing. Its always there in the background, and it’s always in the narrative of the book. My favourite bands are The Beatles (I’m from Liverpool, we HAVE to, it’s in our DNA) Queen and Aerosmith…

One of my favourite, go-to albums is Ozzy Osbourne’s Blizzard of Oz. Every song on it is a winner.

KR: Do you have a favourite horror movie/director? 

My all time favourite horror film is the Blair Witch Project. Wow… what a film. All the horror is in the watcher’s head. You never get to see the monster/bad guy, and the suspense is so real. I sh*t myself going camping every time now…

My fave horror director, without even having to think about it, Tim Burton. His vision and style is just everything that I would love to capture in my books. I love his version of Sweeny Todd, its go blood thirsty and tongue in cheek… I just love it. He has made a few turkeys, but his style and stoy-telling talent is just second to none.

KR: What are you reading now?

I have just given up on Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. It was doing my head in, it was trying too hard to be a supernatural Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy.

I’m reading a book by one of my newest favourite horror writers. Catherine Cavendish. The book is called Saving Grace Devine, it’s a ghost story/mystery… I love the atmosphere that she creates in her writing.

KR: What was the last great book you read?

I absolutely loved almost every page of American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I thought it was odd, gross, mysterious and funny all in one. I know that there are a lot of different edits of this book floating around, but I don’t know if they are much different, but the version I had was perfect.

A lot of people said that there was too much padding, but not for me, I loved it…

KR: E-Book, Paperback or Hardback?

Yes please… all of them, thanks.

KR: Who were the authors that inspired you to write?

Stephen King was my first love, then that inspired me to read James Herbert. I love anything by James… Dennis Weatley was another. My dad loved his books and my first novel The Twelve is heavily influenced by his work.

KR: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer to just see where an idea takes you?

The way I work… I get an idea and write it down. I then flesh that idea out into a couple of pages of ‘actions’. I then find myself a middle point, then an ending. I then give myself milestones I then flesh everything out to reach the milestones… then when its finished I edit it to death… I genuinely like to see where the story takes me. There have been a number of times where a character had amazed me and done something so odd that it has turned the tide of the story… I can go with that.

KR: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?

I research on the fly. Usually google maps and Wikipedia and the likes. Unless, like my upcoming Jack the Ripper book where a lot of it is based on fact. For this book I’ve done various ‘Ripper Tours’ and read a number of books by so called ‘Ripperoligists’. These are historians or amateur sleuths who have devoted their lives and careers to the mystery.

I’ll read up on a lot of stuff, but basically 90% of what goes into the books comes from inside my own head. I tend to steer away from books that need a lot of facts to carry the story… but ultimately Google is my friend.

KR: How would you describe your writing style?

Erratic, third party, unexpected,

KR: Describe your usual writing day?

6am – wake up and grab my laptop or go to my writing room

7:30 – Jump into the shower and get myself ready for work

8:30 – drop my daughter off at school

9:30 – arrive at my horrible job

13:00 – lunch, on hour of writing in the canteen

14:00 – back to work

16:00 – slows down in work, usually have a little time to do a bit of writing

18:00 – leave work

19:00 – arrive at home and make dinner

20:00 – might get a little bit of writing done when dinner things are put away, and daughter is doing homework.

20:30 – quality time. Watch TV with daughter, mess about on internet with her.

21:30 – daughter goes to bed. I think about writing but my brain is usually far too fried to get anything down. Probably read for an hour or so…

22:30 – watch some binge TV

23:30 – sleep ready to do it all again!!!

KR: Do you have a favourite story/short that you’ve written (published or not)?

The most favourite story that I have written was published in one of my comics, Interesting Tymes x 2. It’s called A Lot Of Things Never Happened. It’s about a group of friends who go to a remote cottage for a weekend of chilling out. The miss out on a Werewolf attack, they are too drunk to be bothered by the ghost, they have eaten too much Indian food for the Vampire to attack them. The cannibals have attacked the people next door and are too full to eat them, they are out on the town when the aliens turn up looking for science subjects… when they get home, people ask them if they had a good time… they are all like ‘yeah, nothing really happened…’

KR: Do you read your book reviews?

Yeah, I love them. Good and bad.

I was always scared of the bad ones when I first started, but now I have learned to filter out the trolls, and take the constructive criticism as a learning curve. I do love a good review, I prefer 4 out of 5 as I sometimes think 5 star reviews are wrong as there is ALWAYS somewhere to improve.

Good reviews can make your day, bad reviews give me something to ponder on… who wouldn’t read them?

KR: How do you think you’ve developed as an author?

In my opinion, and I am quite a self-critic, but I think that I have developed quite a bit over the books that I have written. I was worried when I took the plunge from writing comics and graphic novels to novels that I would struggle with grammar and prose. I always say that I am an author, not a writer, and I have learned to trust in the beta readers and the editor.

I’m not making nearly as many mistakes as I was in time-lines or in facts and dates. Hopefully I’ll keep improving.

KR: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received regarding your writing?

JFDI

Just Fu*king Do It.

I was writing a million comics and a few graphic novels, and one guy who had made the plunge gave me this advice. He told me that comics are brilliant, which they are, but are a niche market. More people will read a novel than they will a comic.

Stirling advice… now I do both!!!

KR: What scares you?

Being stuck in my day job for the rest of my life.

I’m in the process of getting some investment into my Dammaged Productions company, and hopefully, with a little bit of financial backing I can afford to get my work out to a larger audience.

KR: Can you tell me about your latest release please?

Righty… My next novel, being released on February 14th is called Z: A Love Story. This is a horror comedy, with a love story thrown in too.

I love a good mash of genres. Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead are two of my favourite movies, but I always thought that the love interest/story was tucked away in the background.

I love the 80’s retro, gory, ultra-serious zombie movies, and as mentioned, I love a great comedy, but I also have a soft spot for a romance too. My girlfriend makes me watch The Holliday every Christmas (three times this year) I think she has a thing for Jude Law, but I love the interaction between the characters.

So this book is a tale of two, lonely people living in London, who decide to take the leap. They have fancied each other for a while. Meanwhile, in America, a scientist drops a vial of Agent Z… Two worlds are going to collide.

KR: What are you working on now?

Right now I’m working on a Christmas ghost story called The Spirit of Christmas. This is a spooky tale of an imaginary friend and a poorly grandmother.

It’s not necessarily a horror, but, it will be an atmospheric ghost story to read on a cold Christmas night while wrapped in a blanket, in front of a roaring fire.

KR: You find yourself on a desert island, which three people would you wish to be deserted with you and why? 

You can choose…

  • One fictional character from your writing.

I have a comic called The Adventures of Mace Masoch. He has a sidekick called Katarina Ninetails, she is sexy and resourceful… she would do the job nicely.

  • One fictional character from any other book.

Mr Wednesday from American Gods (the book and the series). The wily old fella would trick us off that island in no time…

  • One real-life person that is not a family member or friend.

Gordon Ramsey. If anyone was going to get us off that island it would be him. Also he could whip up some fantastic dishes with those coconuts and stuff.

KR: Thank you very much Dave.

Dave McCluskey

You can find out more about Dave by visiting the official Dammaged Productions website www.dammaged.com

Please follow Dave on Twitter @demccluskey1 

Z: A Love Story

When Horror and Romance collide, the world will never be the same again. 

Kevin is your normal, everyday kind of guy. An office worker in a multistory tower block in downtown London, he feels like his existence is being swallowed up by the monster metropolis where he lives and works. Ignored, lonely, and lovelorn, he’s desperate for a life, a reason to go on. 
He has one in mind. 
His coworker, Rachael. 
She is everything that he has ever wanted. 

Four thousand miles away, someone else has other ideas about everything they have ever wanted …
As hostilities between two superpowers escalate, a new weapon is created.
Agent Z is a super-weapon, capable of delivering a devastating blow to the enemy.
In the wrong hands, however, it can be something else entirely.

Love is a many splendored thing. 
Humanity, however … that is fleeting!

You can buy Z: A Love Story from Amazon UK Amazon US

 

2 Comments

  1. Great interview, Dave – and thanks for the mention. It seems we have shared a lot of similar early influences. Mine also included Dennis Wheatley – who can forget The Ka of Gifford Hillary? And, of course, Rider Haggard’s She. Brilliant storytelling. Looking forward to reading Z

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