Interview with Dane Cobain

Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about your work.

Hi! My name’s Dane Cobain, and I’m a poet and author from High Wycombe, about 30 miles north of London in the UK. So far, I’ve written three books – No Rest for the Wicked (supernatural thriller), Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home (poetry) and Former.ly: The Rise and Fall of a Social Network (literary fiction).

Which gives you more satisfaction – to write a first draft, or to finish the last round of editing?

The last round of editing, particularly now that I work with a professional editor, Pam Harris. Pam is really good at what she does, and so as much as it’s something of a relief to finish the first draft of something, it’s not ready for public consumption until after I’ve worked on it with Pam. Plus, after editing, I know that the book is ready to go to layout and it’s one step closer to holding a copy of it in my hand.

What inspires you? Where do you get your ideas from?

It depends! I get most of them in bed, either when I’m asleep or when I’m halfway there. The best ideas stick in my head and then get developed in there over a time before I jot them down in my notebook. Then I develop them, which is much more of a conscious process.

Pick a random piece of writing that you worked on ages ago and that never saw the light of day. Now tell us about it!

My first ever novel was a book called ‘Annie’, about a teenage girl whose mother died in her car crash and who found herself in the care of her stepfather, who sexually abused her. I was only seventeen when I finished work on it, and it isn’t very good; I’ve vaguely considered trying to re-work it under the tentative title of ‘Growing Up Fast’, but I’m not convinced it’s worth the effort.

Do you have a writing routine? If so, can you tell us about it?

I have a pretty specific writing routine – my computer is next to my TV, so I can sit there with my feet up and watch Netflix on the big screen whilst working away at whatever I’m working on. Every five minutes, I switch activity, rotating through writing, tidying and doing stuff on my computer. It’s an unusual quirk, but it works for me.

What was the last book that you read and what did you think of it?

The last one that I read was The Tommyknockers by Stephen King, and I really enjoyed it – I gave it a pretty good review on my book review site, even though I read that King himself felt that he wasn’t at his best. I must’ve liked it, though – I moved on to another Stephen King book (Under the Dome) straight afterwards.

Who are some of your favourite unsigned and indie authors?

That’s a tricky one, because I know so many of them. I guess I’ll go for Michael-Israel Jarvis and J. G. Clay, who I used to represent on behalf of Booktrope. Booktrope was my old publisher, but unfortunately they’re now defunct. Still, it was a hotbed of unsigned and indie talent, and everyone that I know who was affiliated with them is doing fascinating things with their work.

What’s the best bit of writing advice that you’ve ever received?

There’s a Stephen King quote that I like: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” It certainly works for me!

If you could go out for dinner with any three authors, living or dead, who would you pick?

It’s difficult to reduce it to just three authors, but I guess I’d go for Charles Bukowski, Graham Greene and Ernest Hemingway.

How do you get the word out about your work?

I’m all over the internet. I use a lot of different social networking sites, work with lots of bloggers, and also run a book blog of my own. My sales generally come from a mixture of friends and family, word of mouth and events when I attend them. The good thing about being a writer is that readers are so passionate – it can be hard to get in front of them, but once someone reads one of your books, they tend to stick around for new releases, if they like it.

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