Interview with P D Dawson

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1) Can you tell us a little about the inspiration behind your entry for this contest?

I'm excited, fascinated, and a little scared by the idea that life exists elsewhere in the universe. I'm also perpetually creeped out by the woods, especially at night, and I'm horrified by the idea of talking to a therapist. There you have just a few of the ingredients that inspired me to write, Into the Pines. You could call it therapy on the cheap.

2) What made you decide to enter this contest?

I saw a posting by SIA on Goodreads about the contest, and I loved the theme of the competition, so I decided I'd give it a go. It wasn't long before I started to visualise all kinds of scenarios surrounding alien abduction, and then I let the two characters in the story interact. Much of the story's progression was born out of this dialogue between the therapist and his client.

3) Who are some of your favourite authors and why?

I'd say I'm quite eclectic when it comes to my reading habits. There are times when I'm happy to sit down with a straightforward thriller or horror, but most of the time, I like to read more challenging works. To that end, I frequently delve into Joyce, Beckett, Milton and Shakespeare, to name but a few. However, JG Ballard, Edgar Allen Poe and Mary Shelley have inspired my work more than most. Frankenstein is probably one of my favourite re-reads. Not too many contemporaries on the list, but I swear I do read current literature also.

4) What is your favourite book you read this year and why?

The book I've been most impressed with so far this year is Normal People by Sally Rooney. There are a lot of inspiring and talented authors coming from Ireland at the moment, and for me, she's one of the best. What makes Normal People so great is the subtle way in which the two central characters grew on me, and seemingly all with a slide of hand. There are no overtly sentimental moments in the book, no significant plot twists or turns, yet with understatement and subtlety, Rooney manages to weave a story of dust, into solid rock.

5) What is your best piece of advice for all the new independent authors out there?

I think the main thing is staying motivated. People say the key to success is ten per cent talent and ninety per cent hard work, and there is some truth to that. If you are an independent author, there are usually no deadlines, except the ones you set for yourself, and so I think self-motivation is critical. Things don't come to you by chance; you have to work hard at them, and I must admit, that's something I have to tell myself regularly.