I ‘met’ this week’s candidate, David J Rodger, on Twitter, and instantly appreciated this bloke’s attitude towards writing. He’s definitely an interesting character, as you will find in this interview as well as his work.
Without further adieu, I present:
An Interview with David J Rodger
1) RJS: When did you first develop an interest in writing, and what was the contributing factor?
DJR: Writing keeps me sane. I've always had an active imagination. Grew up in a spooky house without any brothers or sisters, so there was plenty of scope for stories to form inside my skull. Some interesting/ odd experiences there, when I was very young. But the thing that really fired my imagination and got me being creative with stories was role-playing games. If you've ever been a GM you'll know the pressure you're under to deliver a story, come up with narrative on-the-spot and cope with radical changes in character direction that can take you entirely off-piste regarding whatever plot you had planned to follow. A great mental challenge. I had been fiddling around with short stories in my late teens; late nights and weekends at my dad's office, using the clunky Oliveti electric typewriter (it even had a typex button). I struck up a bit of correspondence with Brian Lumley (I was a massive fan of his Necroscope series, and then fate had me in a job where I found myself working for his son Richard - interesting character). Lumley was very encouraging. I quit my job at 19 to write my first novel - a terrible, verbose pile of sputum but I loved it. Set me on the course to where I am now.
2) RJS: Your portfolio tends to span multiple genres. What success/difficulties have you experienced in writing for a diverse set of audiences? And what would you consider your primary genre?
DJR: It has been difficult. The general classification is Science-Fiction Dark Fantasy. But you could call my novels a mix of thriller / detective story, placed in a near-future Cyberpunk setting with an undercurrent of Cthulhu Mythos carrying the main aspect of the plot beneath the veneer of crime and corporate espionage. It's why I turned away from mainstream publishers and forged out as an indie-writer, using self-publishing technology as a direct route to market. The success I've had has been very rewarding. Word of mouth has taken my work into the hands of people who would never normally consider themselves fans of Science-Fiction; but they enjoy crime, thrillers and detective novels. And people who would normally avoid horror have found the subtle, eerie atmosphere of the Cthulhu Mythos an enjoyable discovery. I've been told I have wide market appeal; I just need to focus more on the PR.
3) RJS: What are you working on now?
DJR: Just finished a short story I was commissioned to write by the folks at Achtung! Cthulhu who are looking for writers to pad out the universe of the role-playing game. It's called "Shadow of the Black Sun" and is due for commercial release in December as part of the Dark Tales anthology. Now working on four new novels: Oakfield, Broken Fury, Sunder Gloom, and Rise of the Iconoclast. Oakfield is a prequel to God Seed, and features a family visiting a house they have inherited in a remote part of Cornwall, England. It's pure Cthulhu Mythos. Should be available by end of 2014. Broken Fury is a fast-paced thriller, no horror, and follows a corporate mercenary Massimo Pandev through Norway as he helps a hacker breaker into a secure facility. Sunder Gloom is a sequel to Living in Flames - which a horror story set in Bristol that introduced a new Great Old One into the pantheon of the Cthulhu Mythos. Living in Flames has been described as Trainspotting meets Lovecraft, due to the colour of some of the characters I used within it - people I met during my clubbing days. Sunder Gloom picks up where Living in Flames left off and shows how the horror spreads beneath Bristol to rise up and cause havoc. Rise of the Iconoclast sits further in the future, following an apocalyptic event called Yellow Dawn (which is what my RPG is about). Rise of the Iconoclast is a bunch of full-conversion borgs flying around survivor settlements in a battered aerodyne, guns for hire (or they try to be), and quickly get embroiled in a mystery involving an artifact from... beyond.
4) RJS: What advice would you give to authors either just starting out or trying to break into the world of publishing their works?
DJR: Let people read your work. Remove your ego from the project. End of the day you're crafting a product that you want people to pay money for. If there is something wrong with it - you need to know and you need to fix it. As for publishers. The self-publishing route is very satisfying but very hard; writing the book is easy compared to the challenge of marketing and selling it. A mainstream publisher can help you achieve this - but the trade-off is you'll have to comply with how they see your book looking (re-writes or outright rejection).
5) RJS: You’ve created a role playing game (RPG), which is a very ingenious way to connect to a rather eclectic crowd that otherwise may not have exposure to your works. Explain more about this brilliant product.
DJR: Hey thank you for the kind words. Well, go back to 1996, I wanted to start running RPG sessions in the world of my books. I was writing God Seed back then. Felt like a good idea to align what I was playing with what I was writing. So I started to create some RPG systems and took my existing Call of Cthulhu players into this fusion of Lovecraft and William Gibson. The game systems grew and became the only thing we played. For years, it was heaven. But this was a disparate set of systems that only really worked together because we'd all been a part of their growth. Then in 2005 a new guy joined the group. Hagen Landsem. AKA GBH. Game Breaker Hagen. This pedantic sonnova bitch turned up and basically highlighted all the inconsistencies. The game fell apart that day. We never played it again. And I didn't contact Hagen for about a year. But during 2006 I had a bit of a brain wave and thought I could rework the systems into a consistent format. And whilst I was at it, why don't I bolt them into a totally new world. How about a Cthulhu Mythos Apocalypse. And that's what I did. Yellow Dawn - The Age of Hastur, is all about what happens when agents of the mythos inject aspects of Hastur / The King in Yellow into the Earthly reality. It's more than just an RPG. It's an entire world setting and a lot of GMs have been buying Yellow Dawn to use the setting with their own games. It has a heavy post-apocalyptic flavour, but there's also a host of other genres wrapped up within. Technology, crime and complex politics within the Living Cities. A whole bunch of stuff about the new Wilderness - survival, building settlements, and making things from scavenged resources - actually using character skills rather than having these points you never get to use. Dead City Runs are also popular. A twist on the idea of the Dungeon Crawl. There are Zombies, but this is a misnomer, brought about by survivors not knowing what else to call them. They're Infected. But to keep the game / and the setting / fresh the Infection can and should evolve. Just as the Influence of Hastur can warp and change local reality. The Infected can start as Zombies but as characters experience them, the truth is much more terrifying. You can read three novels for more flavour of this: Dog Eat Dog; The Black Lake and The Social Club. I've had a lot of good press for Yellow Dawn. I think folks can recognise how much work went into producing it. But also because there are some genuine USPs about the game that can work for any other system, especially if you like the idea of the character stepping out from the shadow of the player, interpersonal skills (First Contact) and technical and science skills having real value in the world. Hmm - hope that's not too much waffle. I'm happy to pick up questions from any folks who want to ask them via email, Twitter or Facebook. Or take a peek at the official webpage for Yellow Dawn, here: http://www.davidjrodger.com/yellowdawn.htm
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David J. Rodger is a British author of science fiction dark fantasy with eight novels under his belt. He is also the creator of Yellow Dawn - The Age of Hastur, an RPG that blends Cthulhu Mythos and Cyberpunk themes into a post-apocalyptic setting. His books cross many boundaries to deliver a new and exciting fusion of ideas and genres. Critics describe his work as character driven, richly plotted, delivering tension and drama with a quick narrative style, and punching far above his weight as an indie author. Each book is stand-alone and can be read in any order, but occupy a shared universe allowing you to build a deeper knowledge with every story. He has written for SFX and had short stories published in the UK, US and Canada. Represented by Floyd Hayes.
"Atmospheric and Creepy" - The Guardian
Official Website: http://www.davidjrodger.com/
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