Welcome to the Author Interview series at The Writing Life blog. Each Tuesday, it’s a pleasure to share my talented writer friends with readers. We have a a great line up of fabulous authors scheduled until June 2017. Please do check back in and meet a new author next week.
Today, I’m pleased to chat with multigenre writer, Dane Cobain. Dane, who hails from High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, UK, is an independent poet, musician and storyteller with a passion for language and learning. When he’s not in front of a screen writing stories and poetry, he can be found working on his book review blog or developing his website, www.danecobain.com. His debut novella, No Rest for the Wicked, was released in the summer of 2015.
He started writing at fourteen, and progressed from lyrics and music to journals, short stories and poetry before writing the first draft of an early novel whilst in lectures. He studied creative writing at London’s Roehampton University, earning a 2:1 bachelor’s degree before starting a career as a social media marketing.
What is your book’s genre/category?
I have a number of them on the market:
- No Rest for the Wicked (supernatural thriller)
- Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home (poetry)
- Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network (literary fiction)
- Social Paranoia: How Consumers and Brands Can Stay Safe in a Connected World (non-fiction)
Dane, please describe what Former.ly is about.
I’ll use Former.ly, my most recent fiction release, to answer these ones. The novel follows a fledgling social networking site as the team tries to scale upwards and to take over the world. But it’s not a smooth journey – the site’s two founders share a dark secret, a secret that someone is willing to kill for.
How did you come up with the title?
Former.ly is the name of the fictitious social network in the book, and it takes its name because it’s a social networking site for the dead – you sign up, post updates that are hidden from view, and then after you die, the updates go live for the rest of the world. They call themselves Former.ly because that’s their domain name, and it refers to the fact that their users were formerly alive. That’s not actually explained anywhere in the book, and you’re the first person to ask about it!
What inspired you to write this book?
They say that you should write what you know, and I work in social media marketing. It seemed like a good idea to write about my very own fictitious social network. I think it helps to capture the zeitgeist of the times we live in.
What is your favorite part of writing?
I just find it therapeutic. I’m compelled to write, and I start to get uncomfortable if I’m not able to write much. It’s a bit like scratching an itch.
Does your main character resemble you? If so, in what ways?
He does resemble me to some extent; he’s sort of a mixture of myself and some other people that I know. We have a similar outlook on the world, and as the book is written in first person, it was only natural that certain elements of my personality would filter through to Dan.
What do you find is the most challenging aspect of writing?
Finding the time! It takes a lot of time to write a book, and you need to force yourself to stick at it until you’re finished. Plus, there are plenty of potential distractions!
What was the last book you read? What did you think of it?
I’ve just finished reading Stephen King’s Dark Tower series, and the last book that I read was The Wind Through the Keyhole, which was written and released after the rest of the books in the series but which is set somewhere in the middle. It was alright, but not as good as the rest of them, mainly because it didn’t really focus on the same characters. Still good, though.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
There are too many to name individually, but the list includes Graham Greene, Philip Pullman, Charles Bukowski, Ernest Hemingway and Terry Pratchett.
What authors or person(s) have influenced you as a writer and why?
I think that we’re all influenced by each other, so again – the list is too long for me to mention them all. But it’s the contemporary writers that I’ve met and befriended along the way who really have the biggest influence of all. I think we’re all learning from each other, and that’s a good thing – one of the main advantages of the internet.
Do you have a favorite place to write? To read?
I’ll write pretty much anywhere – I carry a notebook around and jot stuff down on my phone. But my favourite place to write is in my living room, because I can sit back and relax while doing it. As for reading, I mostly read on the bus to and from work, chilling on the sofa in the office on my lunch break, or when nipping out for cigarettes at home.
Could you tell us something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
I have anxiety disorder. My closer friends tend to know about it, but a lot of people don’t, and it often surprises them when they find out.
Did the writing process uncover surprises or learning experiences for you? What about the publishing process?
I think you’re always learning from everything that you do, even if you’re just reading someone else’s work. The main thing that I’ve learned along the way has been the importance of having a good editor and a decent cover designer. People always seem to think that they’ve done an amazing job by editing themselves, but that’s usually not the case.
What do you hope readers will gain from Former.ly?
I just hope that they enjoy it. I think that it’s important to have fun when you’re reading; if they want to draw their own conclusions and find a lesson in there then that’s their call.
Looking back, Dane, what did you do right that helped you write and market this book?
I think that hitting the zeitgeist – by which, I mean writing about social networking when social networking is all over the news and a new and exciting part of our day-to-day lives – has helped to get readers interested in the first place. Hopefully the writing does the rest.
What didn’t work as well as you’d hoped?
Nothing in particular – I suppose the main challenge was to make sure that the book wasn’t outdated before it was released. That’s the problem with writing about social networking sites – they move quickly!
So true! Any advice or tips for writers looking to get published?
Just stick at it and keep on trying. It’s also important to work on building up a social media following – potential publishers will want to know that you have a potential readership before they invest time and resources to release your work. Starting a blog site can be a good way to do that.
Please share your website and social media links.
Where can we find your book?
It’s available in both paperback and e-book formats from most major online retailers, including Amazon. Here are the links to Former.ly:
What’s next for you, Dane?
I’m keeping busy at the moment! Next up, I’m planning to release a horror novella and screenplay called Come On Up to the House, followed by an anthology I’m working on with 21 authors, called Subject Verb Object’. I’m also currently 25,000 words into the first draft of a detective novel, called ‘Driven’.
You certainly are keeping busy! Thanks for a super interview, Dane. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you and your books. I wish you all the best in your writing life.
ABOUT ELEANOR PARKER SAPIA:
Eleanor Parker Sapia is the Puerto Rican-born author of the award-winning historical novel, A DECENT WOMAN, published by Scarlet River Press. Her debut novel, which garnered an Honorable Mention for Best Historical Fiction, English at the 2016 International Latino Book Awards with Latino Literacy Now, was selected as a Book of the Month by Las Comadres and Friends National Latino Book Club in 2015. Eleanor is a writer, artist, and photographer, who is never without a pen and a notebook, and her passport and camera are always ready. Her awesome adult children are out in the world doing amazing things. Eleanor currently lives and writes in Berkeley County, West Virginia.
Eleanor’s book, A DECENT WOMAN: http://amzn.to/1X0qFvK
Please visit Eleanor at her website: http://www.eleanorparkersapia.com