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. David has a novel - "Walled In" - and a short story collection - "White Walls and Straitjackets" - currently 'Out there'. After discovering Richard Laymon, David set out on a path to become the best writer he could, holding a BA and MA in creative writing.
Could you tell the readers a little bit about yourself?
In a nutshell, I’m a thirty-three year old man who thinks monsters live under his bed…And in the cupboard. The attic, too…Soon to be thirty-four, I have given up full-time work in the hope that my writing will take off. I told myself I would take a year out, see what I can achieve. So far, it’s going pretty well, but time will tell. I’m under no allusion I’m going to make a stack of cash or become Stephen King overnight. It’s nice being able to spend quality time with my writing – to push it along at a peace I want.
I’m not really sure there’s that much to tell, to be honest. Aside from writing, reading and watching horror, I love real ale and rock/metal music. I’m a very laidback kind of bloke, with a good sense of humour. A little dark, twisted and sexual for some, but hey, if we were all the same, how boring would that be? Can I get an ‘Amen’?! I guess not…
Apart from writing short stories and novels, I also help out at Horror Geeks Magazine, which I love! It was always a goal of mine to writer horror film reviews for a magazine. I’ve also done some pretty nifty interviews of late, including Linnea Quigley, Barbara Crampton and Brinke Stevens.
Yeah, pretty cool, right?
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I like chilling out in front of the TV or playing retro Mega Drive/NES/SENS games with my girlfriend. We also tend to watch a lot of classic horror films, listen to music and play cards. Anything to try and take my mind of writing or swirling ideas; I also have a six-year-old son, who I see at weekends – Gethin can be a right handful, given his age, and so I try to spend as much of my time off on the weekends as I can with him. He loves playing Mario Kart 64 – it’s fun thrashing him!
What’s your favourite food?
Oh, man – I used to be picky as fuck with my food when I was a child. Now I’ll eat anything! But, I’d have to say my favourite food is double egg and chips. What can I say? I’m a man of simple tastes…
Who would be on the soundtrack to your life story?
Definitely Joe Esposito - You're the Best Around. Very cheesy, I know, but this song really does get me fired-up. Do you prefer the term Horror, Weird Fiction or Dark Fiction?
Horror, definitely. I think the word sums the genre up perfectly, really. Everything comes under that one simple word, doesn’t it? Weird, dark, odd, bizarre, terrifying, etc…
Who are some of your favourite authors?
Richard Laymon, Shaun Hutson, Brian Keene, Bentley Little, Robert Bloch…The list is rather endless, but these are some of my favourites.
What is your all-time favourite horror novel, and film?
Book: In The Dark by Richard Laymon. Film: Dawn of the Dead.
If you could erase one horror cliché what would be your choice?
The car won’t start!
Which fictional character would be your perfect neighbour, and who would be your nightmare neighbour?
The perfect character would have to be Norman Bates. He’s such a quiet boy. Keeps himself to himself. Lovely. Worst? That’s pretty easy – the Hewitt family. They are not quiet in the least! Not only that, they’d probably butcher the fuck out of you…
What do you think of the current state of the genre?
I think it’s in a rather good state, actually. There’s a lot of great talent out there that the independent publishers are pushing through. It’s certainly not easy being recognised, and there are a lot of small presses out there causing problems for the up-and-coming writer such as myself. But, for the indie publishers who are getting it right, there’s a stack of great writers coming through. Not only that, but there’s a healthy variety of horror on offer these days, such as Bizarro and Splatterpunk. It’s nice to see the gritty stuff getting the praise it deserves.
Safe horror is good, but the gritty, in-your-face stuff is much, much better.
What was the last great book you read, and what was the last book that disappointed you?
I’ve been reading a lot of anthologies of late – which kind of relates to the last question, as I have unearthed some brilliant new writers! The best book I have read of late has to be Of Devils and Deviants: An Anthology of Erotic Horror. I can’t really put my finger on a book which has disappointed me – pushed, I’d probably say The Yard by Alex Grecian.
How would you describe your writing style?
Honest. Which is to say it appears on the page how I want it to appear: it tends to be graphic, violent and in-your-face. I don’t like holding anything back. I’d also say it’s fast-paced and simple.
Are there any reviews of your work, positive or negative that have stayed with you?
Erm, no, not that I can think of.
What aspects of writing to do you find the most difficult?
Staying positive when faced with dramas such as collapsing deals with publishers, lost faith in your writing and/or writers block. For me, this is the most difficult part of writing, especially when doubt creeps in. And believe me, this happens very often. The smallest of victories help keep me going, such as seeing an article or review published online or in a magazine. They help keep me fighting. To keep pushing.
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
No, never. I used to say nothing involving children or animals – but, if you want to be a shocking horror writer, such as me, you have to be willing to travel down any dark path that comes your way.
If you could kill off any character from any other book who would you chose and how would they die?
Christian Grey – death my choking on a dildo.
What do you think makes a good story?
Oo, good question! From the stacks of books I have read, I’d have to say plot and character. If you haven’t got a strong plot, then the reader isn’t going to care much. The same can be said for characters – it’s nice to be able to engage with fictional characters. This is something I think Richard Laymon did very well. His character building, in my eyes, was brilliant.
How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning?
I think names are very important – certain names can fit certain characteristics. Now, I don’t want to get into trouble here, so I’m not going to go giving any examples!
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I think I’ve done very well. There’s still a lot left for me to learn, but that goes without saying, really. When I first started writing, some ten years ago, I had a lot of difficulties, which stemmed from a poor education. But I didn’t let this stop me – I even went back to higher-education, taking a BA and MA in creative writing, which helped me grow and learn as a writer. Since finishing University, I have not stopped practicing.
What tools do you feel are must-haves for writers?
Well, there are many, really. You need a good grasp on the English language, along with a commanding use of grammar. Not only this, but you need to be well-read – not just in your chosen genre, but in all genres. Read everything you can get your hands on, from books to newspapers.
What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?
Never give up!
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Marketing is rather tricky – it’s something I’m still learning. Social media sites help, such as Facebook and Twitter. Along with this, it’s handy to try and get your book out to as many reviewers and bloggers as possible.
Who is your favourite character from your book and why?
Simon, from Endless Night by Richard Laymon. Why is he my favourite? Because he’s crazy and dangerous. Not only that, but for those who have read Endless Night, they’ll know Simon is part of a gang known as the krulls. The krulls are a ruthless band of killers who Simon ends up double-crossing. His story is told in first person, too, making it standout. The guy has never really left my imagination, making him my all-time favourite character. This also relates an earlier question…
How about the least favourite character? What makes them less appealing to you?
I can’t say I have a least favourite character. I don’t tend to like goodies, if that counts? I find them too boring. I much prefer baddies – they’re much more fun, as they are unpredictable and unbalanced.
Fame, fortune, or respect?
What piece of your own work are you most proud of?
Probably White Walls and Straitjackets – it shows off a lot of the things I like within the horror genre; it also shows of my crazy personality.
And are there any that you would like to forget about?
No, there’s no work I would ever want to forget, if I’m honest. I love all my babies. Older stories may seem poorly written to newer stuff, but that’s fine. As we progress, we learn.
For those who haven’t read any of your books, what book of yours do you think best represents your work and why?
Again, I would have to say White Walls and Straitjackets. There’s a lot of me in that crazy collection. I even gave myself a cameo.
Can you tell us about your last book, and can you tell us about what you are working on next?
My last book released was in fact White Walls and Straitjackets. It’s a short story collection with a twist. It contains ten stories, that are all linked in one way or another. The stories are also narrated by two main characters, who are on the run from the police.
What's the one question you wish you would get asked but never do? And what would be the answer?
Are you truly crazy? Yes.