One of the joys of blogging and social media is meeting fellow writers from around the world – and I’ve been lucky to have many of them visit me here. But today I have as a guest an author who’s more or less down the road from me – I’m delighted to welcome the Bristol based Sci Fi author David J Rodger.
Tell me a little bit about yourself as a person?
I’m 44, live in Bristol England but originally from Newcastle Upon Tyne. I moved from Newcastle when I was 21 but maintain strong connections to the place. Possibly as a result of my Northern roots I have a reputation for talking to anybody and getting into bizarre scenarios – often interesting and part of the journey of discovery that life should be, all grist for the writing mill, including the few less savoury experiences. My mother was a Norwegian, from a tiny place in the Polar Circle and I have a large family over there; it is a country I love to visit. Travelling is a big part of my life. Again, new experiences and adventure.
Tell me about your journey as a writer – how you started and how you have developed?
I started when I was 19. Quit my job as a financial consultant, bought a Philips Videowriter (a dedicated word processor with integral printer) and sat down to write my first novel with the intention of becoming an author. Funny how things turn out. That first book was called Oakfield, and 25 years later, this year in fact, I just launched it – as my 9th novel.
It’s been a long road: the first time I wrote Oakfield I just didn’t have the skill or the life experience the book needed. That’s what I’ve been doing all this time. Soaking up experience and perfecting my art. It all came together around 2007 and since then I’ve released 8 novels, plus Oakfield, and a role-playing game based on the near-future universe all my books occupy.
I took the self-published route and that came with a lot of stigma in the early days – I had to really fight to be seen as a credible offering. But word of mouth about my work helped make it fly and I’ve never looked back. The Guardian reviewed one of my novels – The Black Lake – and recently asked me to comment on an article they wrote about publishing, as the face of self-published authors. I feel like I’ve reached a good place to grow.
How would you describe your work – it‘s themes and the important things about it?
Critics call my work crossover fiction. The stories are all thrillers – I grew up reading Robert Ludlum – and have a timeless quality about them; they just happen to be set in the near future and often the reason the bad guys are doing what they do is because of something dark and supernatural – introduce Cyberpunk and H.P.Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos from stage left.
All of the books share a common universe. Read a few and you’ll see the same corporations popping up in the background or as a main player in the story – each novel shows this universe through a different angle. A lot of fans tell me they read all the books back to back to spot the interconnections I weave into them. It’s nice that the effort I put into that gets appreciated.
Another key theme is the apocalyptic event called Yellow Dawn. It divides the universe I write within into two. Before Yellow Dawn you have the world as you know it today with a science-fiction lens flare; after Yellow Dawn, the majority of Earth’s population is either dead, Infected or surviving any way they can – meanwhile, monsters of the Cthulhu Mythos are roaming the lonely places.
Overall, reviews complement the way I paint moving pictures with a few words – reading my books is like enjoy a great movie. I’m a very visual writer. My characters are crafted and operate within the framework of each novel with an emotional depth that brings them alive. One fan, a publisher, declared she fell in love with the main protagonist in The Social Club. It’s a good feeling when you hear things like that about your work.
Tell me about your current book – what is it about and what makes it a great read?
Oakfield. 9th novel. 25 years in the making. It’s my most important book to date. Oakfield is ultimately a story of redemption. The main character is getting used to a squeaky clean new body courtesy of military medical cover but is struggling to cope with the psychological fallout of being killed in action. He’s alive but where is his soul?
When his sister inherits a house from their estranged grandfather and invites him to join her there for a week, he treats it as part of his recovery and as a chance to heal the wounds that sit deep within their family. However, once at the house it quickly transpires the grandfather did not die of natural causes. The house holds secrets and there are monsters in the quiet places nearby.
The mood of the books has been compared to Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest movie: the main character knows something is wrong but can’t put a finger on it and can’t stop the plot from rolling into a bigger and bigger threat.
What makes it a great read? One review called Oakfield “a gateway book” – it introduces many concepts of my work gently, the sci-fi and even the horror are dialled right back (at first). People who would not normally consider themselves science fiction fans, or who think they’re not interested in horror, will discover this book opens a whole new world for them to discover.
Where can I buy a copy of your book?
It’s available in paperback