Duncan P. Bradshaw lives in the majestic county of Wiltshire in Southern England, with his wife Debbie and their two furry faced fellows called Rafa and Pepe. They are often caught prowling around the vegetation at the base of railway lines, foraging for small reptiles to feed on and dock leaves to quell the savage nettle burn.
Class Three is his debut novel, a homage not just to Romero, but to many things in popular culture that have squished him into the malformed collection of matter that exists in the same plane of existence as you. He is currently fermenting ideas in his brain for the first book in the follow-up trilogy.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
Hello, I live in the mighty county of Wiltshire, nestled in the bowels of England, my wife Debbie and I share our house with two furry faced companions, sometimes referred to by humanoids as ‘cats’. We prowl the countryside for slow moving animals which the quadrupeds catch and we then lovingly prepare with greens and pulses. We are a strange sight indeed, in our clothing salvaged from the bins of seventies popstars.
I love zombies, not carnally, but love watching/reading/talking zombie stuff, most things have been done to (un)death, but it’s good when once in a while you’ll find something a bit different that makes you wish you had thought of it first. The last moment I had like that was watching The Battery, the last half of the film, where they’re stuck in the back of the car was brilliant.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
My free time is spent playing video games, Grand Theft Auto is my ultimate game franchise, having been weened on the Atari 2600 as a nipper, when I played GTA3 I realised that games had finally gotten to the point I wanted them to be when I was playing Joust as a kid. I love going out for food, drinking Guinness and creating enchanting bouquets which are referred to by name as Mr Eggles.
I am learning Kendo, which basically consists of hitting people with a stick, legally, so I’m happy with that. My mate and I also go to a fair few gigs, in a variety of genres, with advancing age though my moshpit injuries are starting to catch up with me. For my penance I also support Everton and scare the crap out of the cats whenever we score.
What’s your favourite food?
I’m rather fond of cooking, and make a smashing slow cooked jerk chicken and spicy Thai rice.
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Now you’re talking, music, I’ll try and keep this to fourteen songs, I promise nothing though;
One Day Remains – Alter Bridge
When life beats you down, this song picks you back up, seriously, it’s so uplifting.
Alive and Kicking – Nonpoint
When you’re down and picking yourself up, you growl this song to your adversaries
Ladies and Gentlemen we are floating in space – Spiritualized
Gentle, ethereal, beautiful, reminds me of my halcyon days in ’95 and of my wedding day (the second one)
Times Like These – Foo Fighters
Just a chorus call to life really, as soon as this comes on, you gotta sing and play it loud
Just So You Know – American Head Charge
Got into these in a difficult patch, this song was almost the anthem of that time
Diary – Angels and Airwaves
A classic Angels and Airwaves EPIC song, haunting in places, and just so damn beautiful
Futterman’s Rule – Beastie Boys
Some nice funky incidental music inbetween the general chaos of life, reminds you to step back and just watch sometimes
Fire Water Burn – Bloodhound Gang
For those days you just want to watch the world burn
There Is – Box Car Racer
Whenever I felt a bit helpless and lost, this song just reminded me that the future is yet to pass
Suicide Season – Bring Me The Horizon
For those close to you that you’ve lost along the way, this song is to remind you of them
Shopper’s Paradise – Carter the Unstoppable Sex Machine
A hark back to my ‘yoof’, singing this pissed up on Strongbow Super, trying not to antagonise the local swan population
Monolith – Crossfaith
Mental Japanese metal/rave music, when you need to stomp somewhere
Pigs – Cypress Hill
Running away from the fuzz as a teenager after setting fire to bus stop seats
Be Quiet And Drive (Far Away) – Deftones
Quite simply one of the best songs of all time, emotional and powerful
Hotellounge (Be The Death Of Me) – dEUS
The last song at the end of countless parties, pissed, down to making rollies from the butts of rollies you’ve dug out of the ashtray
Juggernauts – Enter Shikari
When you want to get from A to B, this song gets you there, the Live version is a monster, if you do not move at the breakdown I firmly believe you are dead
The Bleeding – Five Finger Death Punch
For those ladies that are no longer in your life
Yesterdays – Guns n Roses
Fifteen, pissed in a playground in Andover, Use Your Illusion blaring out from the local pub, memories are made of this
Good Enough – Hoobastank
Break up music forming the soundtrack of the first failed marriage
Love Steals Us From Loneliness – Idlewild
On the mend from above
My Last Serenade – Killswitch Engage
Same again, this song got me through some bad times
Porcelain – Moby
Played to death maybe, but this song still strikes a chord even now
Blistering Blue Barnacles – Mongol Horde
Some good career guidance, could’ve done with this myself
Hurt (Live version) – Nine Inch Nails
This song covers about seven years of confusion, rage and isolation, tough to listen to sometimes cos it takes me back to the person I was
Talk To Me – Nirvana
Me and my best mate screaming the lyrics to this in my old flat in Salisbury
Cape Connection – Pop Will Eat Itself
My favourite song of all time, from the summer of ’95, soaring, crushing, just amazing
Their Law – The Prodigy
In college this was one album that was on near constant play on my walkman
Planet Telex – Radiohead
Nah, the reasons for this are just for me
Wake Up – Rage Against The Machine
Have to choose one RATM song, this is it, raw, angry, those days you just wanna slap someone
Survive – Rise Against
Similar to One Day Remains, this is to remind me that you’ll get through stuff, no matter how bad it is right now
Nobody – Skindred
The chorus, ‘Nobody gets out alive’, party favourite
Tonight, Tonight – Smashing Pumpkins
Memories of parties, and of the night my granddad died
Hey, Joe – Sparklehorse
My mate played this after a break up I had, the lyrics fit that moment perfectly
Empty Cans – The Streets
The whole album is brilliant, one long story ending in this, matched how I was feeling at the end of my marriage, it’s all fucked, but you find solace in something you believe is lost, but is found again
Seven Hills – While She Sleeps
My recent anthem, ‘there's people in the places I've been, who I know, I'll never find again’. The older I get, I find myself thinking on stuff that’s happened, see if those moments appear different now after the extra stuff I’ve been through
Sorry, bit of a triple-disc effort in the end.
Tell us a dirty little secret?
Hmmm, I was the one that really killed Beth on The Walking Dead, slow it down and you’ll see me hiding behind a grassy knoll.
A few years back, I was staying at my mums house and went out for a few beers with a mate in the evening, ending up on whiskey, which I don’t normally drink. Woke up in the wee hours of the morning with a strange yet familiar sensation and realised I was pissing in the bed. Classy.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
I’d tell myself this, ‘You are going to come up with some good ideas, for the love of god, stop being such a lazy bastard and actually work on them and see them through. You can do it, you just need to put that joint out, quit whinging and do it. Oh, and whilst you think it looks good now, that undercut is fucking hideous.’
Characters often find themselves in situations they aren't sure they can get themselves out of. When was the last time you found yourself in a situation that was hard to get out of and what did you do?
I find myself in difficult situations quite regularly, mainly because I just kinda do things my way. I don’t mean to antagonise people but my bluntness can put me on collision courses with people. I approach things the same way, if I’ve fucked up, ‘fess up, if you know you’re right, stick to your guns. You can only ever be one person in your life, and that person is who you are at that moment.
Who are some of your favourite authors?
My favourite zombie fiction is World War Z, the way Max Brooks made that book is sheer genius, there are so many stories in there, half-hinted at, which would be brilliant standalone tales, it just made me go WOW.
Other than that, Danny King’s books are epic, The Hitman Diaries in particular is equal parts hilarious and disturbing, how he came up with some of that is amazing. I was rather partial to Solzhenitsyn as a teenager, bleak Russian stories really grabbed me, just these mad situations they found themselves in, you wonder how the hell people could survive those awful conditions.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
For some reading for my next book, I’ve just finished Cormac McCarthy’s ‘The Road’, watched the film a few years back, but the book just paints a picture a hundred times bleaker. The way it’s written with no speech-marks, paragraphs separated by spaces, just makes you read it differently and crushes the joy from you. You almost sometimes don’t want to turn the page to see what hell they have to go through next.
I can find something from most books I read, but the one I was disappointed with the most was Closure Limited by Max Brooks. After the highs of the Zombie Survival Guide and WWZ, I picked it up immediately. Honestly, bar one story, it is utter garbage, complete and total tosh. I just couldn’t believe that someone thought it was a good idea to put it out.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
My favourite horror film, hands down, is the original Dawn of the Dead. The first zombie film I ever saw, and watch religiously every year. I got the Blu-Ray edition and watched the remastered version followed by Dario Argento’s version, just so I could see what was different, I am that obsessed with that film.
The effects look a little dated now, sure, but every time I watch it I remember the emotions I felt as that zombie took that chunk out of that woman in the tenement building at the beginning. From start to finish, that film grabbed me and holds me in its thrall until the helicopter flies off leaving the mall behind.
I’d also nominate Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer, the films random killings were genuinely shocking, and the bit with the hairbrush…..man, I can feel my sphincter clenching in fear at the mere thought of that film.
WWZ is my favourite horror book, if you can classify it as such, just love the way Brooks wrote it. However, the book I found the most uncomfortable to read was American Psycho. It’s just so nasty, the way it explains everything with such separation from what he is doing. The sections with the in depth record reviews are just ‘What?’ to then go into how he had a bad day at work so buys some puppies to torture them to death just to cheer him up, I stopped reading it so many times cos it is just so disturbing.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would it be?
Teenagers in fucking log cabins/potholes/derelict buildings. Seriously, as soon as a film starts off like that, I ditch it, drives me insane.
Which fictional character would be you perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
Nice, I think I’d go for The Dude from the Big Lebowski, chill out with him, low maintenance neighbour, except you’d never lend him a rug. Plus, the Dude abides with White Russians, can’t go wrong with that.
Nightmare neighbour would probably be Andrew WK. I like to party hard, but I bet he’s the kind of dude that’s still playing loud music at 3 on a Monday morning, wanker.
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I’m pretty new to being this entrenched in the genre, but so far I’ve been blown away by how willing some people are to help out, or chat about stuff. Sure, there are people that feel that feel that the entire pie is theirs and theirs alone, but I’ve yet to experience that. Myself and a few chums are getting an anthology together, and the way some really well known people have said yes to contributing has shocked me. I don’t know of any other industry where that would happen so willingly.
What do you think is the biggest problem facing horror fiction right now?
I think horror always faces a battle of one kind or another. Mostly from people who base their thoughts on narrow minded preconceptions, without bothering to actually read anything. There is such a wide, diverse range of authors out there, both new and well established, writing so many things in so many different ways, it’s staggering, it really is. Horror has to fight against a lot of prejudices and a lot of negativity from piss poor Hollywood films, it’s a wonder it doesn’t self-destruct at times.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Early days for me, I’ve yet to get a negative review, am braced for it, but until it happens, I can’t say how I’ll act. For me though, I love hearing what people made of Class Three, who their favourite character is, what scene stood out, which bit made them uncomfortable. I asked all the people who read one of my later drafts their favourite five characters, every single one gave me a different list, and different reasons, it’s humbling to hear people talk about this thing that you’ve made. It’s why I write, for myself and to hopefully entertain people along the way.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
I’d say the editing can be tough, but only because sometimes I find myself going into things too much, and focus on the wrong elements to amend. I’ve learnt so much already about how I work and my little idiosyncrasies that it should all help for the next one.
Also, and I think this is a common thing, you write something, that one day you’re really happy with, and then read it back the next and think ‘Man, no-one is going to like this, I suck’. It’s such an insular hobby for so much of the time that it can be a little disconcerting if you keep it to yourself, that’s why it’s important to have people around you can chat to about stuff.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
I’m pretty open to writing about anything, I have a habit of saying things without employing the mental checkpoint most of the time. However, I don’t think I could really include anything of a sexual nature, either violent or even just sex scenes.
What do you think makes a good story?
Ha, for me, I have to believe in the characters, and for the story to fit within the writers style. It can be as fantastical and mad as you want, providing the writer can convey that same lightness within their prose, Madeleine Swann is a brilliant example of this, The Filing Cabinet of Doom is brilliant, some of the short stories in there are just so well done.
I also like a little black humour in there, if you can make people laugh, I think that is a fabulous talent. If you can make them cringe and laugh, that’s even better.
How important are names to you in your books?
Names is a weird one, I find it quite useful sometimes when I create characters in my minds eye to link them to people I either know or have met. In Class Three the guys meet a couple of soldiers, as soon as I wrote them I had the two lead singers from Hacktivist in my head, so used them as thought ammo for the scenes, knowing how they speak, move etc.
Most times, I’ll just pluck a name at random, think they can be a blessing and a curse to use people you know for instance. Unless the narrative calls for it, I think it’s best to just choose one at random and use it. I think it depends on how much you’re writing about them, or the feeling you’re trying to evoke. If you want people to identify with characters, I think by writing them based on people you know, you’ll naturally make them a bit more realistic.
You end up capturing the little mannerisms they do, or how they speak etc, it can be pretty useful in making believable characters.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Sheer bloody mindedness is key. Once you make the decision to start writing, you have to keep going. I found in the first few days, I’d be working away on the beginning chapters and I could see my Xbox sat there, looking at me expectantly. It’s about remembering why you’re writing instead of doing anything else, that in order to do this you have to sacrifice some of that stuff.
It also comes in handy for so many other things, constructive criticism for one, you have to remember that it’s not a personal dig. One guy went through a draft and pointed out so many little foibles, like I used the word ‘suddenly’ a LOT. I was a bit miffed initially, but then got over myself and realised that this was helping me, not hurting me.
Also, it is essential you have people who support you. My wife hates zombies and hates horror, yet she willingly read one of my first drafts and gave me her opinion on things. Granted there is one chapter she’ll never re-read as she says it’s too grisly, but it meant a lot for me that she did that. I’ve got a couple of mates as well who are also authors, and we get together regularly to shoot the shit and talk about what worked and what didn’t, it’s really handy to have that I think.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Ha, the only bit of shit that ever stuck to the wall was ‘Write as if you are telling the story to your mates’, so I do. One of the best things people have said to me is that they can tell it’s me that wrote the book as it’s as if I was reading it to them. Job done as far as I’m concerned.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
Not had anything yet, I do feel that people hear you are self-published and just assume that it’s a piece of piss and that anyone can do it. My reply? Go for it, you spend three-four months working every day in your spare time on something, alongside your day job, release it to the world to no fanfare and then have to pimp yourself out. Give that a go and tell me that being self-published is a piece of piss. It’s a slog, but you do it, and vast parts of it, I thoroughly enjoy. Nothing good ever came easy.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
My mates and I are trying a number of things out in marketing our early books, I think the main thing we are all focusing on right now is just building our name up, speaking to people, commenting on stuff. Personally, out of the social media tools, I prefer Facebook, I like not being limited to 140 characters and think I can connect with people better. It’s weird for me now though as my Twitter followers now outnumber my FB likes. Not a big fan of Twitter, most of my experiences consists of people talking at people rather than to people, and not really wanting or encouraging discussion.
I quite enjoyed doing the marketing for Class Three though, I’m quite a creative person anyway, but majorly hamstrung by a lack of artistic ability. So, being able to put together some cool promo pictures and a nice line over the top of it really floats my boat.
We’re always looking to new things to try out and hoping that 2015 and our appearances at some con’s should help out. We’re all sociable chaps, so think that by getting out there and engaging with people, talking to them, finding out what they like, should help with promoting our books in the future.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
For me, it was Philip, he was the character I had the most fun writing. I think when I started writing I felt a bit cautious about what I could say and get away with. I’m pretty forthright in life, and don’t really hold back, for better and for worse. When I based the two brothers loosely on me and my brother, I think it just removed those shackles from me.
He’s the one that is very liberal with the swearing, or the stupid songs, who flies off the handle for next to no reason at all, using him as one of the main characters just let me follow my one rule for writing, tell the story how YOU would tell it in real life. Use the words and the sayings that you would do if you were telling it to your mates in the pub.
Philip let me cut loose and focus on telling the story my way, not trying to adhere to what I thought people would want to hear.
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I think Sophie is my least favourite, she was necessary to set up the whole situation with Jim at the beginning, I wasn’t really going to have a plot thread on her at all until she popped up at the end, but thought it would be good to follow her.
I didn’t want a pathetic, screaming girl, falling over when running away etc. but just felt she was there for a purpose and never really expanded on her, she just feels too one-dimensional to me really. It’s why when people say they quite liked her, I always want to know why.
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Easy, Class Three. My only published book to date. I’ve written a short story for an upcoming anthology, The Black Room Manuscripts, which we’re getting out early next year. It’s called Time for Tea, and I describe it as Battle Royale in a tea shop.
I’m fermenting ideas on the first book in the follow up trilogy, Class Four, got some really good ideas on what will be going on, really cannot wait to get started on it.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
Nope, not yet. I’m a firm believer in only putting things out there with my name on it if I’m 100% happy with it. I’ve started a couple of stories and they were just lacking something, so I ditched them. I may come back to them at some point in time, but if I’m not feeling it, I ditch it and move on.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Class Three is my only work to date, and I’m pleased with how it turned out. Initially it was going to be a one off, my homage to the zombie genre, but people kept saying that they wanted more, and with the open ending, it was pretty easy to do. I cannot wait to expand on the characters and events I’ve created, it’s still going to be a bit silly, but want to explore some themes which will lead down some dark roads.
What are you working on right now?
I’m currently doing some background reading ahead of starting Class Four, the first book of the follow up trilogy to Class Three. I’ve got a pretty good idea of what each book will have, the characters it’ll follow and how it’ll end up, it’s just I want to add a bit of depth now.
I have some cool ideas for a theme I guess for book one, so just reading a few books on that subject, trying to get an idea of how people would react in situations I’m going to put characters into. I want a degree of realism and believability in there, amongst the silliness and gore, so just doing that whilst my brain works on the detail in the background.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
I am dying for someone to ask me what the P. stands for.
Being an hirsute and charming man, I would answer ‘penis’.
Amazon Author Page
Hungover, dumped and late for work. On an ordinary day, one of these would be a bad morning, but today Jim Taylor also has to contend with the zombie apocalypse. Follow Jim during twenty four hours of Day One, as he and his zombie obsessed brother deal with the undead, a doomsday cult and maniacs in their quest to get to their parents, win his girlfriend back and for them to instigate 'The Plan'. Worlds will collide and fall apart in a Class Three outbreak.