Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Gal's 62 Days of Horror Day 30: AMONG THE STACKS: David Owain Hughes


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hey, David.  Welcome to The Gal.  We're drawing near to the end of the first half of The Gal's 62 Days of Horror and I'm excited that you chose to be a part of this.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

David Owain Hughes:
Right, well, let's see.  I'm thirty-six, I'm a Gemini and I'm a squirter.  Ha!  Only kidding - I'm thirty-five.  I also like to have sex in random sheds whilst eating kebab meat and chips.  Oh, and I love a bit of mayo poured over my nips!  Erm, should we get serious now?!  Might be a good idea... What say you?!  Nah, fuck it.  I'm too stupid to be sober!  What say ye, oh wench of interview questions?
            Okay, okay... I'll play it serious, only because you're giving me dirty looks.  Having said that, I don't know if they're dirty, dirty looks, or come to bed dirty looks!  Which *pants like a wild beast in heat* Shit, I'm way off track here!
            Right, so I'm thirty-five, a Gemini and I'm a squirter.  And, clearly, a perverted fucker!  I'm also a huge Whitesnake fan, love tattoos, and I'm crazy about America - I plan to visit before I'm nailed into my six foot box and placed on the wrong side of the dirt.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Does squirting count as one?!  If not, here are five:
  1. I have eight tattoos.
  2. I once fell off a table whilst gyrating like a stripper!  I was very drunk at the time.
  3. I once applied for a job as a private eye.
  4. My first job upon leaving school was a trainee baker - I tuck with that job for seven years.
  5. I named one of my female characters after the nickname I gave my fiancee's undercarriage!  I'll never tell which one... Hehehe!!
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

David Owain Hughes:
First book I remember reading and loving was One Rainy Night by Richard Laymon.  That novel captured my imagination, lust and thirst for wanting to write and make more out of myself as an individual.  It is strange how words on a page, how a fictional story, can drive a man to be a determined son-of-a-bitch!  But it did.  I discovered that book when I was roughly eighteen-years-old.  I was late to the reading game, which I'm sorely sorry about.  Since then, I've devoured hundreds of great books - I've chewed through everything Laymon put out there through his short career.  The man is a legend to me.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Ash & Bones by Mike Thomas.  However, I'm not getting very far!  I have deadlines pouring out of my arse like vengeful diarrhea.  It's not pleasant, but I refuse to go to the doctor's.  Uh-huh, no way.  Not having him broke me with his little cold tool.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Erm... This is a pretty difficult question, if I'm honest.  It's infrequent I read outside the genres I like, but people are sometimes shocked when I tell them I like crime fiction.  I guess it was a shocker for me, when I found myself enjoying the works of Ian Rankin, who writes crime stories about the same police officer set in Scotland, UK.  This passion I have for crime fiction has led me to branch out in my own writing - I'm currently jotting a hard-boiled noir/thriller, which I'm rather enjoying!  It has some of my horror hallmarks, such as seedy settings, dark characters, etc.

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

David Owain Hughes:
I've had a keen interest in telling stories for many years - since my schooldays.  But I wasn't very good at it back then!  It wasn't until I was in my mid-twenties that I knuckled down and got deadly serious about taking my writing somewhere.  As I said in a previous answer, it was upon the discovery of Richard Laymon and his body of work did I really start to take things to heart.  I went back to college to redo certain English exams and then I went on to University to do two creative writing degrees.  Something gave me a lively kick in the arse, which got me going.  Ever since then, I've been chipping away at it, trying to carve some form of career from it all.

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

David Owain Hughes:
My Man Cave!  It's basically our spare bedroom turned into an office, which doesn't belong to me entirely - my son, who stays with us at weekends, has his bed and toy chest in there, along with a wardrobe and a few other bits.  I basically have two corners worth of space: one for my PC, printer, Shelf of Pride, etc, and the second houses my bookshelf.  So yeah, it's a shared Man Cave.  I can't complain, though, as I have the room to myself throughout the week, where I can barricade myself in and only let the fiancee in if she comes bearing a mug of tea, toast or some other form of snack/drink.  Otherwise, she's shooed away with my prodding stick - its long with a wet, sticky end!

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

David Owain Hughes:
Other than the fact I like having sex the night before to clear my mind?  Then no, sorry.  The only real process I have is when my arse is in the writing chair, it doesn't get to leave until there's a minimum of 1,000 words written.  I like to try and write at least 2,000 words a day, if I can.  If not, 1,000 is a must.

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

David Owain Hughes:
The actual task of sitting and writing can be challenging enough!  But I think one of the hardest things about writing is isolation, and I'm not just talking about the loneliness of sitting in a room by yourself whilst creating.  That's just one aspect of it.  The bigger, more terrifying aspect of the isolation is not having that many readers - I feel sometimes as though my words are not reaching enough people.  That all my work is going to waste.  A writer thrives off a review, a few kind words, a bit of feedback... It lets us know that there's someone out there reading our stuff.  That someone cares.  And when I sit to write, I have to think about those few people who have reached out to me; the ones who leave reviews, good or bad.  Otherwise, I find myself thinking what's the point?  Your love for something will only take you so far.  Well, for me it does anyway.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Most definitely my Wind-Up Toy series - I never thought for one moment I had a sequence of books in me.  When I first started writing, I would often tell myself that I would never, ever write sequels to my stories.  Why?  Because I find most sequels poor - they rarely live up to the book/film before it, so what's the point?  Besides, I like to keep moving.  I don't like to stick to one universe for too long.  However, I've broke that rule.  Thrice.  Not only do I have the Wind-Up Toy world, I've also written a sequel to my short story collection White Walls & Straightjackets.  Sadly (he says with a smile on his face), it doesn't end there... I also have a sequel to Man-Eating F*cks somewhere on my PC and I've started writing a prequel to my first novel Walled In!  So yeah, I won't be making any more stupid rules regarding my writing.

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

David Owain Hughes:
First and foremost, Richard Laymon and his body of work.  As mentioned above, his stories speak to me.  Some of his standard books for me are: One Rainy NightQuakeIn the DarkEndless NightFunland, and Island.
            Other than Laymon's work, I also find inspiration in Jack KetchumBentley Little and Dean Koontz.  I think The Mailman by Little is an outstanding read!  If you haven't read it, I highly recommend that you do.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Depth and character development - nothing wrong with a hearty pace, either!  I like something that's going to grip me from the get go.  So many horror writers turn out stories that are laden with blood and guts but have little in the way of story or character development.  I was always taught to layer a story first, and then open up with the gore and whatnot.  If there's no substance, then it's going to put me off completely.  Laymon is a prime example - he had a knack for making you care for his characters, who were rich and full of life.

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?

David Owain Hughes:
Detail and personality - I love to know all the little, finer things there is to know about a character and what makes them tick.  This is easily utilized within my own work.  However, it's something I've had to practice over and over again - it isn't a technique that's come to me in the wink of an eye.  Most readers may not even notice the minute details when reading a tale because it all gets woven together at the end of the day.  When I'm writing a story, I usually sprinkle finer details about my character throughout the narrative, which helps build and deepen the individual(s).

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

David Owain Hughes:
Simone from Wind-Up Toy, definitely.  Even though he's a baddie, he's very much like me because that's the way I wrote him.  Apart from his violent tendencies and few other things about him, he's very much me.  I won't go into detail, however - I'll just leave the thought with you...
            Also, Rigs and Iain from The Rack & Cue are based off a childhood friendships - all their traits and banter are true to life!  Most of the dialogue between the truckers was taken from many a witty, drunken or everyday conversation I had with my friend back in the day.

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?

David Owain Hughes:
I'm not a fan of digital covers - some come off as looking staged, turning me right off.  Don't get me wrong though, a lot of digital covers do look fantastic, if they are done right.  I don't want to come off sounding like a cover snob, but it's probably too late... I love hand-drawn covers and try to use Kevin Enhart as much as possible.  The Frenchman has produced most of my covers, which I love.  At heart, I'm just an old-fashioned fool.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Oh, man, I've learned so much.  In fact, I'm learning every day.  As a writer, you don't just learn writing techniques, but marketing and how to sell yourself as an author.  There's so much more to it than sitting and typing.  I think the most valuable thing I've learned so far is that you have to reach out to others - you must be able to talk to people to build bridges and alliances with other writers, publishers, artists and agents.  I'm not saying for one moment that this will help advance you, but it will help you learn more about what's going on around you.  Also, it's important to hit those deadlines and show people how hungry you are to succeed.

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

David Owain Hughes:
There's only been one to date, which took place in my first novel Walled In.  It featured the death of a much-loved character - I won't say too much, just in case someone who reads this buys the novel.  After the book was released, a few readers came to me and commented on the character's death, which was nice.  It was a necessary kill, even though I didn't want to do it at first because I found it too upsetting, as I knew it would be shocking to a reader.

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

David Owain Hughes:
I like to think my books/stories have originality to them.  I also like to try different things.  Examples: With White Walls & Straightjackets, which is a collection of woven together stories, it is told by a couple of narrators who tell their own story within the collection - a story within a story, if you will.  I also threw in a few other twists to keep the reader guessing.

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

David Owain Hughes:
The title, along with the cover, is very important.  it has to capture your tale in a few words or less, leaving your potential reader filled with intrigue and wonder.  My titles are usually picked after I've finished the first or second draft - the title for the work usually comes from within the story: a selection of words or word that symbolizes the narrative and its nature.

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

David Owain Hughes:
I enjoy writing both, but I think creating a short story just about edges it for me.  The explanation is rather simple: with a short story you have a small amount of words to work with, which means you can only write a tiny caption of a character's life - we get to take a peek into their existence at a very specific time which I find fascinating.  I also think writing a short story acquires a great deal of skill - there can be so much to fit into a tight word count, and when it comes to editing, you have to pick your words wisely.

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.

David Owain Hughes:
My books are a mixed bag of horror - sometimes I'll write a story in the extreme spectrum, and then I'll write something mild or horrotica.  I try not to limit myself to any one aspect of the genre.  I think my target audience is sixteen/eighteen and over.  There's definitely no age cap on my stuff.
            I'd like my readers to take away an enjoyable and memorable read.  As with a lot of writers, we want our words and stories to give people great joy.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Surprisingly, nothing major has been deleted from any of my books.  I know, a shocker, right?!  However, it has come to my attention that Apple is trying to ban Wind-Up Toy: Chaos Rising from their library due to the stories explicit content.  I won't go into detail...

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

David Owain Hughes:
I'm currently writing my 'trunk' story, which is the crime/noir/thriller novel I mentioned above.  I've been putting this one off for quite some time (a year), but I finally managed to find a bit of space to get it started.  I'm hoping to have it finished before the New Year rolls around.

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

David Owain Hughes:
Well, after I finish this noir I plan to go back to my Wind-Up Toy roots and carve out a three-book offshoot series at some point next year.  I also have a couple of "hush-hush" projects on the go...

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

David Owain Hughes:

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks, again, for stopping by today.  You have made me laugh quite a bit... and, because of you, I've added MORE books to my already forever long To Read list.
            One more thing before you go: Do you have any closing words for your fans or anything you'd like to say that we didn't get to cover in this interview?

David Owain Hughes:
I think you've rung every drop of information from me!  I'd like to thank my fans for their support.


About the author:
David Owain Hughes is a horror freak!  He grew up on ninja, pirate and horror movies from the age of five, which helped rapidly install in him a vivid imagination.  When he grows up, he wishes to be a serial killer with a part-time job in women's lingerie... He's had several short stories published in various online magazines and anthologies, along with articles, reviews and interviews.  He's written for This Is Horror, Blood Magazine and Horror Geeks Magazine.  He's the author of the popular novels Walled In (2004) and Wind-Up Toy (2016), along with his short story collections White Walls & Straightjackets (2015) and Choice Cuts (2015).

About the books:
Someone's lurking in the shadows in the small seaside town of Porthcrawl, South Wales...
            Meet Simone.  Simone is a quiet, shy boy with a lot of murky secrets.  Simone stays in the shadows and lies on the cusp of society, until he comes out and plays one evening.
            Like all boys, his mother is his best friend, but he has others.  Unusual friends.  Dark, secret friends who are all just dying to meet Simone's new plaything.
            Dare you come and have some fun?  Will you find out what darkness dwells within Simone?  You may find yourself screaming for your life.
            Wind-Up Toy has been called 'sickening' and 'horrific.'  Let that be your warning.  Read at your own risk.

Matt Shaw presents David Owain Hughes' Man Eating F*cks...

An average teenage girl and her father find themselves caught up in a brutal nightmare at their local recreational centre, when an age-old enemy comes stumbling out of the woods to crash a heavy-metal gig; a gig that has all the promises of being killer.
            This is one blood-soaked gig you won't want to miss!

Meet Crystal and Harry - lovers who work in the entertainment business: after murdering three critics for poor reviews, they decide to skip town and head for the coastline.  Once there, they know things will be fine - it'll be a chance to start fresh.  A new beginning.  But, before they head to the seaside, Crystal must first visit her sister at a mental hospital - after all, it's Crystal's fault her sibling is there...
            As they start their journey, Harry discovers a book in the van's glove compartment - White Walls & Straitjackets.  The author is unknown, but whoever he is, he seems to know a lot about the deadly duo and other nut jobs who inhabit the Rhondda Valleys, South Wales.
            As lives and stories collide, Crystal and Harry soon discover escaping the Valleys won't be as easy as they think.  Especially with another serial killer hot on their heels...

A weapon, designed 'in the dark' at an army barracks just outside of Cardiff, South Wales, has been unleashed.  Intended for use against enemy troops, the chemical, comprising Bird Flu, Bovine Flue, and Foot & Mouth, turns those affected into murderous lunatics for twenty-four hours before the body finally shuts down.  Jeff, a mild-mannered air enthusiast, has just murdered his sick wife.  He had planned for them to stay inside, to lock the place down, to wait it out.  But Katherine became sick - the latest casualty of an unknown virus wiping the British population out in their thousands.  TV, radio, and all other means of contact to the outside world have gone.  Jeff, alone, decides to make a break for the plane he has stationed at Cardiff airport.  Between Jeff and freedom stands millions of infected.  If only he can reach the hangar, then he'll be safe.  He'll be able to fly to Scotland to reunite with his sister.  Along the way, Jeff hooks up with Maria, who has been left stranded at the petrol station where she worked.  They meet up with Ollie and Roxie - a pair of biker lovers who have survived the outbreak on the road.  Together, their chances of survival are increased, as long as they can all just get along.  It's not just the infected they will have to dodge; a dark and depraved enemy is on their trial.  A foe who might just hold the key to surviving in a country gone to hell.

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