Welcome to my interview with Duncan P Bradshaw, author of Celebrity Culture. I hope you enjoy this little insight into his mind;
So Duncan, first of all, what made you want to write?
Hello there! I get loads of weird ideas, some are just flashes of stupidity, one liners or just silly things to say in the moment. Some though, they just kinda keep bugging my brain, demanding that I do something with them. I, like most people, always wanted to write a book, but I was way too lazy to do so, preferring to play video games. Then one of my best mates announced one day that he had written something and was releasing it, I thought, if he can do it, so can I. The first few days were hard, but like any other routine you need to break, like smoking, the more you manage to resist the temptation, the easier it gets. Since then, it’s been a brilliant outlet to my imagination.
And Celebrity Culture is not your first book, tell us a little bit about the first two;
One of my big loves, are zombies, not in a carnal way, that’s just weird. So when I decided to write something, I picked on this idea that had been running around my head since 2006. Class Three is essentially two brothers on a road trip, who have to deal with day one of the zombie apocalypse. It’s loosely based on my brother Stuart and I, and I’ve tried to add in my own dose of humour into the pages, along with the rending of flesh and the evil machinations of a cult, the Children of Ishtar.
When I released it, people said they enjoyed it, and asked what would become of the characters. After a while, I decided to do a follow up trilogy, called Class Four, which would follow them all to whatever end I dished out for them. Book one, ‘Those Who Survive’ was released last year, and I’ll be finishing the trilogy off this year hopefully.
What then, made you want to write a book like Celebrity Culture, it certainly doesn’t sound like your usual offering?
It’s like you’re the question my brain asked mid-2015. I’m one third of the Sinister Horror Company, a small horror press in the UK. We were hitting up conventions and people would either be interested in my books, or not. Which is understandable as the zombie genre is a little like the Lovecraft tide at the moment, you either like it or you don’t. I didn’t want to become ‘zombie guy’, so decided I’d branch out.
I saw a friend of mine mention a Bizarro Novella writing workshop in April last year, and though I was familiar with the genre, I had never written anything in it. I’d just finished the first Class Four book, and thought, why not? I reasoned that by the end of the month, I’d at least have a novella to my name, and could decide if it was worth releasing then.
Writing it was like pulling teeth at times, I was so far out of my comfort zone, but gradually, I got into what Garrett Cook was after. When it was over, I put it to one side, needing some time away from it. In October last year, I re-read it, and realised that it was okay, so set steps in motion to get it released.
After reading the book I felt like I had been on a drug induced trip, was there any specific inspiration for it?
Ha ha ha, I might have to use that line. For me, I cannot abide the whole ethos surrounding celebrities. The magazines devoted to them, the column inches on a change of hair style, or someone putting on weight, it drives me potty. I wanted to hold up the mirror to this, but use something which is just so ridiculous that would get people to think about it.
Being bizarro, it has so many impossible elements to it, but unless it was in that genre, it just wouldn’t have worked. It started off first person, but I had to pull it out to third person to show the wider picture, so the idea of it being from the view point of a side effect was born.
One person said it reminded them of William S. Borroughs, and whilst it is obviously not as good, I think the sentiment is there. I wanted people in there with this unnamed person, feeling their vitriol at big companies taking over something they loved, the elation of being with their heroes, and their own self-serving nature.
What’s your favourite part of the book?
There are a few parts which jump out, the final showdown was good fun to write, same with the plague-off, and Stabby B’s moment of introspection has some really funny lines in. I think I’d have to go with Malcolm McKindy’s back story though, the narrator acts as his crier, telling all and sundry of who this mysterious stranger is. For me, it kinda highlights that to some people, who focus on celebrities, who they have never met, they can recite, verbatim, what has happened to them. It’s madness, we live in a world where we place people on pedestals, not for researching diseases, but for bringing beards back into fashion, or naming their kid ‘Nesquik’, people are weird. (I realise that statement is a little like the pot calling the kettle black, but hey…)
How did you manage to keep the continuation going within the story? There seems to be such a lot to keep up with during the writing process.
I have friends who are planners. No story is started without every chapter, every twist, every character nuance being written down. Fair play to them. I’m not like that at all, I’m a pantser, I come up with an idea, and once I think it’s got legs, I’ll find a start point and just start writing. Most of my stories have multiple threads, and I’d like to say I have a board with it all written down on, but alas, it’s all in my head. I have moments at my day job, when I realise I’ve written something which is wrong, or counters something else, so have to fix it before I get back on with the book. Am quite lucky that a part of me which is responsible for my dark moments, actually helps out in all of this.
Do you have anything new in the works right now?
I do indeed, I’ve made 2016 the year where I’m going to swell my back catalogue. I’ve written a novel called ‘Hexagram’, which should be out around July time. It’s based on the adage, ‘We are all made of stars’. An Inca ritual is interrupted, and the knowledge is discovered through five separate stories, over five hundred years. I’m quite proud of how this has turned out, which probably means that people will hate it. I’ve also just finished a sci-fi/horror novella called ‘Prime Directive’, which should be out in the next few months.
Right now, I’m working on a book called ‘Deadlock’, which follows Ray, a retired thief, lured back for one more job with the promise of something impossible in return. Yet, the job is a ruse, and he ends up in Hell, and has to fight his way out, to get what he was promised.
Then, when that’s done, I’m getting back to the Class Four trilogy, book two, ‘Versus’ should be out by year end, and hoping to get the conclusion written too.
My next ‘weird’ book, is next year, called ‘Bakers Dozen’, and follows a detective hunting a serial killer, who, after murdering victims, cooks them into a variety of baked goods.
Do you have any words for aspiring authors?
There are so many sites claiming what people need to do; whether it’s drink water straight from puddles, or only write when the sun shines directly into your face. It’s all nonsense. There is only one thing you need to do. Write. If you can do it every day, great, if not, no worries. Just make sure that when you sit down with your laptop, or your notebook, you write. That’s it. Get that first draft done, then wrestle the real story you want telling, when you edit it.