Wednesday, November 1, 2017

The Gal's 2017 Halloween Frivolities Day 11: Among the Stacks with Duncan P. Bradshaw


Duncan is a pretty entertaining guy, and I can't believe it's taken me SO long to get him here on the blog.  There's just some authors that are... well... hard to reach out to.  Not anything on there side at all.  Just, ya know... they're a big deal, which makes it harder to have the nerve to, I guess.  That could just be me.
            Interesting piece of information on this guy: He does not have a canned bio that he sends out to everyone.  He actually makes up a new one every time he gets asked for one.  I've never had someone make up a bio just for me before.  That's... that's actually pretty cool.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, Duncan.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Hello!  I'm Duncan.  I live in a town in southern England called Chippenham.  It's only claim to fame is that it is the place where Eddie Cochrane died.  By day, I'm a mild-mannered IT analyst, and at night, I'M BATMAN!  Pretty cool, I think you'd agree.  When I'm not bugging my wife, Debbie, or our two cats, Rafa and Pepe, with the annoying sounds that race through my brain, which I vocalise, I sit down in front of my laptop and make stuff up.  I write a mix of comedy and horror, with a side order of bizarro.  Basically anything which amuses me and I think will make Debbie roll her eyes or promise to never read that sentence ever again as it's mentally scarred her for life.  As you can tell, I'm quite the catch.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
The whole Batman revelation is a bit of a shock to people first off.

I've been to a garden party at Buckingham Palace, even though I'm not fussed with the royal family.

When I was really young, I had an invisible friend, called Stanley, who was a ghost, and lived at the bottom of my bed.

Equally, when I was little, before I went to sleep every night, I'd select an invisible VHS tape which would be my dream.

I've only had flu once, and during the fever, I was convinced that it was the end of the world.  The only noise I could hear was fellow survivors talking to each other on CB radios, coming through my Hi-Fi speakers.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
It was a pop-up book called Duncan the Dinosaur, telling the time honoured tale of Duncan the Triceratops, who gets separated from his mum.  Awww.  I think it's wholly responsible for my choice of favorite dinosaur.  I still have it somewhere, one of those things that'll probably get chucked in with me when I am cremated.  I also had a Puff the Dragon book when I was small that really sticks out.  I think the premise with that was also being separated from his mother.  Wonder what my mum was trying to say?  Anyhoo, I learnt coping strategies from a young age.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I'm reading Aftermath: Empire's End by Chuck Wendig at the moment, as I'm a bit of a Star Wars nut, and despite promising myself I'd skip reading the new canon, I couldn't resist.  The book before that, though, was Patrick Loveland's debut novel, A Tear in the Veil, published by April Moon Books.  Whilst it is a bit exposition heavy, the characters are cool, and the story damn interesting.  If you like They Live, the Matrix, and general weirdness, I'd suggest you go pick it up.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's a book you really enjoyed that others wouldn't expect you to have liked?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I hate vampires, more than I hate biscuits that have gone soft, or lumpy custard, so when my mom suggested I read, I Am Legend, I wasn't expecting much.  I whizzed though it in a day, and absolutely loved it.  I'd actually put it on a part with The Road, just in the sense of the story it tells, and how people survive in a world that's been shifted so far from the one that we take for granted.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I was one of those people who always said that they were going to write a book, and never did.  A few years back, a mate of mine took the plunge, turned a script he wrote into a book, and released it.  I thought, if they can, so can I.  I had an idea for a zombie book floating around my head for ages, so after some mental tweaking, I sat down, and began.  I enjoyed it, so I kept on going.  It can be something really cool, when you're in the zone and it's flowing from you like a proverbial tap.  The downside is the voice which says you're rubbish, and it's a battle making sure that I ignore that, and press on.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I have a room in the house which is filled with my crap, and I tend to write mostly in there.  I fall in bad habits of sitting downstairs and writing, but there are too many distractions, so I need to get in the habit of going upstairs, and working in there.  I bought a record player for my last birthday, and it lives in the office, so a good excuse to lock myself away in there.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Not really.  The only real odd things I do are that when I write my zombie books, I rarely have a title, so I call them after rivers, working backwards from Z.  Class Three was Project Zambezi, and it kinda stuck from there on in.  Otherwise, nothing much.  One thing I do is to celebrate when I finish a first draft, and when I release a book, with a bottle of something sparkling with the wife.  It's such an investment of time, that I feel having an evening acknowledging it before starting the first round if edits, is an important thing.  I spent three months on the first draft of my latest book, which is slow going for me.  Having that glass of bubbles signifies that I stuck it out, and got it done.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Keeping a consistent tone is something I do struggle with from time to time.  Happened to a couple of my books.  By nature I am a little silly, and my comedy horror book are probably what I'm best known for.  When I make a conscious effort to write something serious, especially in a longer format, I find about halfway through that I diverge from being serious to chucking a few silly things in.  It's maddening, especially when I'm editing and realise that one half is deadly serious and the second half is a lot more light-hearted.  I'm trying to pick up on it earlier in the writing process, but it's going to take some time to root that out.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's the most satisfying thing you've written so far?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I'd say Hexagram is probably the thing I'm proudest of.  My first non-zombie book, and it grew from a simple idea for a novella into a full blown novel.  Six stories set across five hundred years of history, all inter-connected in some way.  Each story is written in its own style, and it let me cut loose.  It is my marmite book, though - some love it, some hate it.  It bothered me for a bit, but then I remember who I'm writing for, and now I don't let it get to me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?  Who are some authors that have inspired your writing style?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Roald Dahl was a big deal for me when I was a kid, not just the writing, but Quentin Blake's illustrations.  When I started putting my books together, I wanted to add in different elements, and am slowly turning them into something which I think is a bit cool.  I do suffer from having ideas above my budget and technical skills, but I'm learning how to deal with them, and will strive to do more.  From a personal point of view, Adam Millard is probably my current writing 'hero.'  The guy has helped me out so much, and his book Vinyl Destination, showed me that I can and should write what I want, without pandering to my brain telling me to reign it in.  It came along at the right time.  When I was wrestling with the kind of writer I wanted to be, it gave me the confidence to do my own thing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Characters.  I have to feel some kind of emotion towards at least one of the main characters, even if it's utter loathing.  When you read, your brain creates the world, the background is pretty freeform, but the characters are the thing that you spend the most amount of time with.  If they don't feel believable, then I don't connect with the book at all.  A brilliant example of character writing is Punch by J.R. Park.  The work he puts in with the first half of the book and the attachment you develop for Martin, the main character, creates a real conflict.  When you get to the back end, it's really well done.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What does it take for you to love a character?  How do you utilize that when creating your characters?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
For me, my favorite characters usually happen by accident.  The Reverend in my debut, Class Three, was supposed to be a one chapter wonder, but when I wrote him in, I knew that he had to have a bigger role.  I tend to come up with 'bridge' characters, which help move the story on, but aren't the main attraction.  Thing is, t hey tend to be the ones I have the most fun with, so enjoy the most.  There's a guy called Malvin in an unreleased book I've written called Deadlock.  He's there purely to move the plot on, but he steals ever scene he's in.  Conversely, in another book, the main character, whilst good, lacks the appeal of the antagonist.  I'm a pantser, so with every chapter the characters evolve, and I have to adjust them in the editing accordingly.  Mind you, I have a habit of killing off people's favourites, so I wouldn't get too attached... just in case.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Gotta be Phil from Class Three - sarcastic, grumpy, blunt, impulsive, but always looking out for ya.  With it being my first book, I wanted to keep it simple, so based the two main characters on elements of me and my brother.  They're not 100%, as it was more the sibling dynamic between them that was important, but Phil definitely ended up being a little close to home.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Are you turned off by a bad cover?  To what degree were you involved in creating your book covers?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Oh god yes.  Thing is, there are so many bad ones out there, particularly in the indie publishing world.  You could write the best book in the entirety of existence, but if you have a crappy image on the cover, no one is going to find it.  People will make their mind up whether they want to know more based on that cover, so it has to grab them.
            Me?  Yeah, I'm a bit of a control freak, so I have a decent idea of what I'm after.  I just lack any degree of artistic talent, so end ups writing a detailed brief to the artist, once I've found one which matches what I'm after.  I realise that what they do will not match exactly what is in my head, but so far, they've been pretty damn close.  I love putting books together, and that extends beyond the cover and down into things like fonts.  In Celebrity Culture, each disease has its own font, like its own branding.  53 different fonts.  FIFTY THREE.  I just can't stop myself.  It's important to me to get the book looking as good as it can be.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What have you learned creating your books?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
That I'm a pendant, and my imagination currently outstrips my talent.  When I'm editing, my brain switches into the overall package mode.  It's then that I get loads of ideas about how to make the book look pretty cool.  Unfortunately, a lot of these would involve sinking a lot more money into it, money that I can't afford to spend.  However, the longer I've been doing this for, the more I find myself picking up little tips and tricks, and am learning ways I can come up with some of my more outlandish ideas, as will be shown in my next book...

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What has been the hardest scene for you to write so far?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
It was one of the last scenes out of Hexagram, where the main character is interacting with their mother.  I'm really lucky that my immediate family read my books, but I tend to use a lot of what I've gone through as the foundation for characters.  Knowing that my mum is going to read something, and knowing that it's bad on truth was hard.  We had a very up and down relationship until I left home, and though we've sorted it out, I don't want to make her feel as though it's a scab I'm picking at, or that I'm not okay with it.  I am, but that emotion and everything that went with it is a powerful tool to use.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I can only say what I think here, so people may disagree with me, and that's cool.  I write for me, in my way.  Sometimes, the choices I make with how I portray the story or events, is not wholly conventional.  I never aspire to be compared to any other writer, though people will invariably try to do so.  I'm not saying I'm in a genre of my own - of course I'm not - but I do think that when you read one of my books, it will be a bit different to most things you read.  I hate writers giving advice, but one thing always rings true.  Tell the story as if you're sat with the reader in a pub.  So I do.  The language is colourful, and sometimes it may seem a little odd, but it's how I would tell you my story.  That's my voice, and I like it.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
How important is a book title, how hard is it to choose the best one, and how did you choose yours (of course, with no spoilers)?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Man, the title is the hardest thing, along with the cover.  So many of my books have been called one thing, and then changed multiple times.  Prime Directive was "The Entity" for awhile, Hexagram was "Stardust."  I find that, like inspiration, it just comes to you.  When it does, it feels right, it rolls off the tongue better when you talk to people about it.  It just fits.  Some are a little more cryptic than there, but I think that it hopefully makes people want to read it, and then go AHH when they work out why it's called that.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes you feel more fulfilled: Writing a novel or writing a short story?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Novels, hands down, no arguments.  I'm not a big short story writer, or reader.  As you can tell from this, I like to prattle on a bit, and with a novel, I get the chance to do so.  Plus, I like spending time with the characters, and the journey they go through.  I just don't feel the same attachment as that when I write short stories.  I've written a couple of short stories that I like, one I LOVE, but on the main, I feel too constricted.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Tell us a little bit about your books, your target audience, and what you would like readers to take away from your stories.

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
To me, a book is a form of entertainment, and completely unique in that two people can read even just one sentence, and form two completely different images in their minds.  I don't spend too much time outlining what characters look like, the clothes they wear, or even where they are.  I focus on their interactions, their foibles - they are the things that stick out for me about people and everyday life.  My sole aim is to tell a story that is a little different to other books that people have read.  Yes, I write about zombies, but the way I do, my focus, and the things I do with the story, are different.  Chris Hall over at DLS Reviews gave me the best quote ever: "Bradshaw always walks his own path."  That's exactly what I aim for.  If I can make you laugh, cry, or retch a little, then I've done my job.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Can you tell us about some of the deleted scenes/stuff that got left out of your work?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Weirdly enough, in my new novel, I've written intentional deleted scenes, and alternate endings.  In previous books, as I'm a self-confessed pantser, I invariably write a scene, read it back, and realise that I've gone off on a complete tangent, or missed off bits that I wanted to cover.  Rather than edit, I cut and paste it into a new document and save it as a deleted scene.  When I do five year anniversary editions of my books, I'll chuck that stuff in along with liner notes and the whole shebang.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What's in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
Not really.  I tend to spend time in between working on the layout and cool stuff for the current book.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I've just finished the fifth draft of my highbrow literacy novel, CANNIBAL NUNS FROM OUTER SPACE!  As you can tell from the title, it's a period drama leaning heavily on an introspective look at human emotions.  I've got a couple of more serious things to write coming up, so wanted to have a silliness splurge beforehand.  Thinking back to the 50s/60s B-movies, and the OTT movies from the eighties, so wanted to have some fun with it.  It's going to be packaged as a DVD of sorts, with trailers, deleted scenes, alternate endings, and a director's commentary.  As usual, it sounds brilliant in my head.  Now I've got to put it all together.  I'm in no mad rush, so looking forward to getting it done, and envisage it being ready in February or March next year.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Where can we find you?  (STaLKeR links.)

Duncan P. Bradshaw:
I'm a bit like the infamous rapper, Snow.  You can find me...


Facebook is where I live the most, so give me a like and see what I'm up to.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Fans?  I have fans?  All I wanna say is, to anyone who has read anything from me, thank you.  Whether you enjoyed it or thought it was rubbish, I appreciate the time you took, especially as there is so much out there.  And finally, thank you Meghan, appreciate being able to waffle on.  Now you best get back to what you were doing, or I'll get all clingy.


About the author:
Open the fridge, root around the back by the two week old bacon and the jars of Dijon mustard that have turned into yellow slurry.  Wait a moment.  What the hell is that?  Why, it's indie comedy/horror author, Duncan P. Bradshaw!  That cheeky scamp, always getting into the strangest of places.  But... that's odd, isn't it?  What the hell is he doing inside of your refrigerator?  I wager he's doing what he always does, shedding his corporeal form, walking through walls, unannounced into people's homes and stealing their luncheon meat.  Shoo him away, ideally by wafting one of his books at him.  They can be found online in both digital and physical editions.  Why his zombie collection, Chump, was even nominated for a Saboteur Award.  Yegads!  You best be quick, as he's realised you're looking at him funny, and might steal that jar of jam that you've been saving for a rainy day.

About the book:
We are all made of stars.
            When an ancient Inca ritual is interrupted, it sets in motion a series of events that will echo through five hundred years of human history.  Many seek to use the arcane knowledge for their own ends, from a survivor of a shipwreck, through to a suicide cult.
            Yet... the most unlikeliest of them all will succeed.

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