It’s an honor to welcome David Annandale as my author in the spotlight this week. I’m indebted to him for his workshop on genre fiction, which introduced me to outlining and forever changed how I write.
David Annandale writes fiction in a number of genres. He writes Warhammer 40,000 fiction for the Black Library, including the novel The Death of Antagonis and the novellas Yarrick: Chains of Golgotha, Stormseer, and Mephiston: Lord of Death. His next Black Library novel is Yarrick: Imperial Creed, coming in April. His horror novel, Gethsemane Hall, was published last year by Dundurn Press and (in the UK) by Snowbooks. For Turnstone Press, he has written a series of thrillers featuring rogue warrior Jen Blaylock (Crown Fire, Kornukopia, and The Valedictorians). His short fiction has appeared in a number of anthologies, including Dead But Dreaming, Tesseracts 7, and Wild Things Live There: The Best of Northern Frights.
David also writes non-fiction, contributing academic articles on movies, video games and other aspects of popular culture to such collections as Roman Catholicism in Fantastic Film: Essays on Belief, Spectacle, Ritual and Imagery; Horror at the Drive-In; The Meaning and Culture of Grand Theft Auto; and Performance and Identity: The Music of Lady Gaga. He writes film reviews for The Phantom of the Movies’ VideoScope.
David holds a PhD in English Literature from the University of Alberta, where he specialized in horror literature and film. He is a senior instructor at the University of Manitoba, where he teaches film, creative writing and literature.
SEVEN SPOTLIGHT QUESTIONS:
#1: Why do you write?
To tell stories, to explore ideas, to entertain, to horrify. Storytelling has been part of my life for as long as I can remember, to the point that I actually find this question difficult to answer. I can’t imagine not writing.
#2: What was your earliest writing experience?
I was six. I was fascinated by a monster called Zaradak, who appeared in a French translation of an Adam Strange comic. I started writing a story about him. I didn’t get very far, but that was where it all began: banging things out on my father’s typewriter, and then my own little plastic one I was given for my birthday when I was about eight.
#3: Describe a day in your writing life:
Because my teaching schedule varies from term to term, there isn’t a typical day. In a very general way, I try to write 1000 words a day during the University term, and 2000 words a day during the summer, though I’m trying to raise that level this year (so far so good). Sometimes I have several uninterrupted hours to work, but other times I have to do most of the writing at the end of the day.
#4: What authors influenced you and how?
Stephen King taught me a lot about how my great love (horror) works. Through him, I discovered Ramsey Campbell in my teens, and that was when I first became aware of style, that prose did more than convey information. So that was a major step in discovering my voice. Kathe Koja was a later influence in the same vein.
#5: What are some things you learned to help with your success?
Probably the single biggest help was learning how to outline. My first four novels (three trunk novels and Crown Fire) were written without an outline. From Kornukopia on, I’ve done a full outline, and the difference has been like night and day. There is no loss of creative freedom, but the editing process is a fraction of what it was before. So, so, so important. I am indebted to Stephen R. George and Dave Clarke for introducing me to Syd Field’s work on screenwriting, which is eminently adaptable to novels.
#6: Describe your writing method:
Starting from a rough idea informed by research, I write point form notes until an actual plot takes shape. I sort out my plot points, then construct an index card outline using Field’s method. This then becomes the basis of my chapter-by-chapter breakdown. Then I get to work, and I write novels in a very linear fashion.
#7: Tips for aspiring writers:
Don’t get discouraged. Getting rejected is no fun, and it will likely happen a lot. But keep at it, keep writing, and keep getting better. If I could go back to my frustrated younger self, I would tell him that down the road, he’ll be relieved those first few books didn’t get picked up. Also, as you might guess from the above, I am a very firm believer in outlines.
Check out David’s latest release, Death of Antagonis, available from Black Library.
The Black Dragons fall upon the world of Antagonis, summoned to combat the plague of undeath that has engulfed the planet. Allying themselves with Inquisitor Werner Lettinger and a force of Sisters of Battle, the Black Dragons endeavour to save the souls of the Imperial citizens who have succumbed to the contagion. But there is more than a mere infection at play – the dread forces of Chaos lie behind the outbreak, and the Black Dragons stand in the way of the Dark Gods’ victory…
Buy it Now:
Connect with David:
Fan email address: David.Annandale[at]gmail[dot]com