TWENTY QUESTIONS


1.Do you have any hobbies? (Nicholas Cole)

I used to have a hobby. I used to write fiction 
for fun, while working as journalist. By the 
end of my journalistic career I was running seven
local newspapers, organising budgets, overseeing 
sales drives, appointing editors. In the evenings 
I would set aside time to fool around with a
story or two. Now I still write for fun but I get 
paid for it.

2.Is there any particular film/s that have influenced 
your work? e.g.. "The Wild Bunch" (Steve Tennant)

I tend to write in a 'filmic' way, in that I see 
the story as a movie in my mind, so, yes, films
have played an important part in my style. The 
Wild Bunch is a classic and - as with so many of
Peckinpah's films - was criticised unfairly because
of his violent images. For me Straw Dogs remains 
his great masterpiece for all sorts of reasons. 
First and foremost it illustrates beautifully what 
happens when society no longer has the balls to tackle 
evil. Modern history continues to show the truth of the
message. When UN peacekeepers in Bosnia were not allowed 
to fight toprotect the people under their care we 
witnessed the result. Massacre.

Other films that touched a chord in me were The Outlaw  
Josey Wales, Zulu, Rocky, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance 
Kid, The Searchers, True Grit, The Shootist and Unforgiven.

3.What annoys you most about your profession? 
(Inderjeet Lalli)

This is a tough one, because there are any number 
of pet hates to choose from. Poor reviewers would be 
one. Most authors sweat blood to make a story
work, rewriting, re-editing, worrying endlessly that 
the work will be the best they can produce. Then some
prat with access to a newspaper or magazine will
dismiss it in a few sentences, calling it 'crap'.
Anyone who finishes a novel - published or 
unpublished - should get a medal.

Another gripe  is marketing. In many cases the amount
put aside to promote a novel is based on a percentage
of the advance. This means that a new author, who has
received - say - 10,000 will get a publicity budget 
of around 1000. This supplies a few ads in local 
papers plus one small display in a genre magazine. 
An author who gets an advance of 500,000 will
get a budget of 50,000, allowing for national 
advertising, cross-track posters at railway stations,
and big BIG coverage. The question that should be 
asked is: Which author NEEDS the big budget?

But probably the main hate is the pressure on new 
authors to supply fantasy trilogies. It is unnatural. 
Most writers come up with stories that will  make 
for one really strong book. Publishers see the 
opportunity to milk the market and coerce the writer
into stretching the story out. Often it doesn't
work. This means that a few years down the line 
the author is unpublished and struggling.

4.What is your worst reaction to a book, chapter
or paragraph you have written yourself? (James Jones)

Not quite sure what this means. If I write something 
bad I ditch it. For the last few months I have been 
struggling with the writing. I tried to quit smoking
and found that the years of polluting my brain with
nicotine meant that I couldn't string a reasonable
sentence together without filling my lungs with smoke.
I went three months without a drag, took a good
look at the crap I was writing and lit up.

5.Do you lose your rag like the rest of us mortals? 
Have you ever grabbed old Snaga from the wall and 
chopped up a crappy manuscript? (James Jones)

Yep. But I don't tend to lose my rag in life as 
much as I used to. I'm over fifty now, and carrying 
a lot of old injuries from days when I boxed or
played rugby. My right shoulder is arthritic and I
have two prolapsed discs in my neck from a car crash.
A couple of years go I found myself the victim of 
road rage, which was pretty surprising. Some young men
travelling on a coach made obscene gestures at me as 
I slowed my car to let the coach go by. Red mist 
descended. I followed the coach, pulled in front of it,
got out of the car onto the coach and whacked one of 
them. Afterwards I felt the double hit of both shame 
and pride. The shame was the result of losing
control and acting stupidly. The pride came from 
still being able to lose control and act stupidly.

6.What was your favourite cartoon/cartoon character
from childhood? (Tony Evans)

Wily Coyote. Despite all the terrible setbacks the 
sucker never once gave up on his quest to eat the 
road runner.

7.What made you decide to write a third Waylander 
story? [Not that  I'm not grateful, it's one of the
best books you've ever written, IMO]. (Tony Evans)

I felt Waylander's story was somehow incomplete. 
And I loved meeting up with him again and following 
his latest adventure. I can't say too much more as 
it would mean putting in bags of SPOILER space, which 
might look odd in a question and answer session.

8.What period of history would you most like to have
lived through (even if it's longer than a normal life 
span). (Tony Evans)

Many years ago, when I was a local journalist living
in London, I was sent to the Acacia House Spiritualist
Centre in Acton, West London. I was writing a feature
about a clairvoyant who operated there. The clairvoyant
told me incredible stuff about my own life that she 
couldn't possibly have known and then told me that I
was an 'Old Soul' and that I had lived in Ancient 
Rome. This, she said, was why I had such instinctive
'knowledge' about the period. I have always had a 
fascination for Greek and Romanhistory, so maybe she
was right. There is still enough of the romantic in
me to say that, given the choice, I would have lived
in Sparta at the time of Leonidas.

9.Do you think your characters' essentially violent 
response to injury to themeselves and loved ones, 
while something we can all identify with, is hard 
to reconcile with Jesus' injunction in the Bible 
to turn the other cheek to injury? (Nora Bennett)

No. I do not see Jesus as a gentle pacifist. He was a 
rebel and a revolutionary. He took a whip and drove 
the money lenders from the temple. I think the 'turn 
the other cheek' injunction has more to do with
arguments between friends. If a friend - in anger -
strikes you, then you should turn the other cheek 
in order to defuse the situation. But if a stranger,
seeking to rob or humiliate you, strikes you, then
you should - as the Bible also exhorts 'smite him hip
and thigh.'  For me the Bible needs to be read as 
a WHOLE book. The laws laid down in it are very 
harsh. An eye for an eye, a life for a life. Jesus 
himself told his followers that he did not come 
to change one jot of the law. However, this isn't
the place to pound on about my view of Christianity.
My views can be found in every novel I write.


10.Was the child of Miriel fathered by Angel that 
is referred to in LEGEND OF DEATHWALKER actually 
Druss's grandfather (Bardan) or was Nosta Khan's 
reference to Angel being Druss's ancestor a figure
of speech? (Dale Rippke)

It was not a figure of speech, but originally I 
intended the child to be Druss's great grandfather,
and, thus, the father of Bardan.

11.How do you think up the names for your characters
and places? Not just important ones but also the 
ones you only mention once or twice.(Michael Whitehead)

Sometimes I take them from history [Prasamaccus, 
Ruathain, Victorinus] and at other times I create them
from mixing the names of the friends I have based them 
on [ToNY GORing = Nygor].

12.How do you feel when you read the little compliments
about you written by critics? eg "Probably the finest
living writer of heroic fantasy" -Time Out (Michael 
Whitehead)

I get as much satisfaction when I receive letters from 
fans who have found the work to be either life changing
or life enhancing. I'm lucky in that I don't have a 
strong reaction to either flattery or criticism. There 
are people out there who probably consider me the worst 
living writer of heroic fantasy. They don't bother me.
I was looking at Amazon.co.uk the other day, ego-surfing 
the reviews for Hero in the Shadows. Several readers think
its one of the best things I've done, but one reader 
thought it was terrible and boring. David Gemmell is no 
more, he writes. As long as I feel I've given a book the 
very best I can produce then I  take the plaudits and
the criticism about evenly.

13.David, you've declared your commitment to 
Christianity on a number of occasions.  In addition,
your books are full of references  to "Sources",
witches and warlocks, etc.  Do you yourself really
believe in supernatural phenomena, such as ghosts,
horoscopes, an afterlife, Uri Geller...? (Nigel 
Kersh)

I have never met Geller, so I have no view about
his powers. But, yes, I've met spiritualists and
clairvoyants, faith healers and mystics whose
powers were beyond question. I learned a lot about 
human nature when I dealt with these people in 
London. My boss at the Acton Gazette was a
man named Roy Summerhayes. He didn't believe in 
what he called the Looney Tunes operating in 
Acacia House. It didn't matter how many stories came
out about people who were healed. They were all either
deluded or fakes. One day I suffered a badly ricked 
neck. The hospital staff put me in a surgical
collar and a specialist said it would take about 
three weeks for it to heal. Roy Summerhayes was in 
seventh heaven. 'Get down to Looney Tunes,'he
said. 'Get him to heal that.'

Reluctantly I trudged down to Acacia House and 
saw a healer named Karl Francis. He removed the
collar, laid his hand on my neck. No massage or
pressure of any kind. 'Move your head,' he said.
I did so. All pain had vanished and my neck was 
completely cured. I went back to Roy Summerhayes
who said: 'Yeah, I knew you were faking it.'

Those with eyes to see will see. The others never will.

14.How restricted do you feel by what is 
expected from you? Do you wish to write different
material from what you deliver to us, or are you 
happy with your tales of slaying and conflicting
characters? (Inderjeet Lalli)

There is no pressure from publishers any more. At 
the moment what I write sells. That's all they care 
about. The pressure from fans is great, and I
do feel I owe them the best I can produce. However,
essentially I write what I want to write, and 
explore themes that matter to me. I could make
more money by writing what Moorcock calls 
'Pixieshit books' with a few singing elves and 
bearded dwarves. That doesn't interest me. 
Tolkien did that better than anyone else alive. 
I would like to write more thrillers and I am 
planning a series based on a British policewoman.
I have been working for some time with a working 
police detective building a series of stories.
However I wont start these until I have finished 
Ravenheart.


15.You've often been asked about which characters
most represent you, but which of ay characters in
your books would you most wish to be like? (Kate
Emery)

I don't write cynically. When I create a hero and
put him in difficult situations the first thing I
think is: 'What would I WANT to do in this 
situation?' 'How would I WISH to behave faced 
with these dangers.' Sometimes I find myself 
confused by life, and in those moments I feel like
Jon Shannow. At other times I feel a great ad 
cold rage building, and I know how Waylander felt.
I have only ever based two characters on myself,
Rek in Legend, and Gellan in Waylander. Who would 
I really like to be like? Ruathain from Sword in 
the Storm. Could I ever be like him? Not a
chance.

16.Have you ever had problems with am overeager fan? 
(Kate Emery)

No. One of the nicest things about my fans is
that I have only met one I didn't like. He 
came up to me at a convention in Liverpool when Legend
was first published. His first words to me were: 
'You really know where its at, Dave. Great book, 
mate. No niggers in Legend.'

17.Which book was the most pleasurable for you to 
write and which book was the hardest? (Andy Rixon)

Legend was the most pleasureable. Nothing will
ever change that. The hardest is always the latest.
With each book I write it gets harder to disguise 
what SFX magazine calls the 'literary mechanics' 
of the plots. In many ways writing is like comedy 
- the hit comes with surprise. Without surprise there 
is no punch line. Problem is the more we see a 
particular comic the more aware we become of his/her 
style of delivery. It is the same with writing.

18.What qualities do you look for, or rather like to 
find, in novels by other authors? (David Lees)

I don't have time any more to read for pleasure, 
but in the past I always required passion and heart
from an author. For me books need to have  moral
centres, and should inspire the reader as well as 
being entertaining.

19.Do you think the internet has made it easier 
or harder for new fantasy writers to get published? 
(Nigel Kersh)

If by published you mean posting a story on the 
Internet then it must have made it easier. As to 
regular publishing I don't think its made a
difference yet.

20.Do you have a double crossbow like Waylander's?
(Nigel Witter)

No. I have a single crossbow, a longbow, two 
broadswords, five pistols, a gladius, three bowie
knives, a beautiful copy of the Coppergate helm,
complete with neck guard of chain mail, and a 
Winchester .73 from the Wichita City Marshalls 
office at the time of Wyatt Earp. But I aint got
no double crossbow, dammit!






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