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My First Time...with Will Dean

Will Dean grew up in the East Midlands, living in nine different villages before the age of eighteen. After studying law at the LSE, and working many varied jobs in London, he settled in rural Sweden with his wife. He built a wooden house in a boggy forest clearing and it’s from this base that he compulsively reads and writes.

Will is reading his debut novel Dark Pines at The Riff Raff on Thursday January 25th, get your tickets here.

Will Dean, The Riff Raff

Here's the blurb for Dark Pines...

'See no evil: Eyes missing, a body lies deep in the forest near an isolated Swedish town.

Hear no evil: Tuva Moodyson, a deaf reporter on a small-town local paper, is looking for the story that could make her career.

Speak no evil: A web of secrets. And unsolved murders from twenty years ago. Can Tuva outwit the killer before she becomes the next victim? She must face her demons and venture deep into the woods to stop the murderer. And then get the hell out of Gavrik.'

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

I was outside in my boggy Swedish forest playing with my toddler. It was the first week of the elk hunt. Gunfire boomed through the trees and for the first time since moving to Sweden it didn’t seem strange. It was normal. And I thought, what if? What if one of the bullets is destined for a hunter instead of an elk?

Nobody would question the gunshot. Nobody would find the body for weeks or months or perhaps ever. Wouldn’t that be a good cover for a murder?

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before writing your first book?

I wish I’d known how extraordinarily supportive and generous the book community is. Bloggers and fellow authors and booksellers and publishing people and readers. This seems to be especially true of the crime fiction community. If I’d known how kind everyone would be I’d have been less anxious about the whole thing.

Dark Pines by Will Dean, The Riff Raff

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

I don’t procrastinate much. But when I need to get away from my desk to give my head a chance to fix plot tangles, I like to walk in the woods, kayak in the sea, chop wood, restore old mechanical watches, and visit a local riverside church ruin.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing it?

No tantrums. But lots of self-doubt (especially when I read something brilliant).

Best thing about writing your book?

Spending time in Tuva’s head. She’s fun, surprising, bold, challenging, fragile, loyal. I enjoy writing her voice.

And the worst?

I’ve come to realise that the Tuva Moodyson books are difficult to write. I didn’t understand this until I wrote the first draft of a standalone novel last year. The Tuva books are very contemporary, but they’re also classic closed-set whodunits.

I find the characters, story arc, setting, dialogue etc. come naturally in the first draft. But the plot mechanics are far more of a challenge. I complete about twenty drafts in total and in each one I layer clues and red herrings and reveals. I need twenty drafts to understand what motivates each and every character.

Go-to writing snacks?

Extremely sour Swedish sweets.

Who or what inspires you to write?

Everything. The nature that surrounds me, the people I see in public but never get a chance to know, the chance to live vicariously by writing varied characters, the opportunity to reverse clichés and challenge conventions.

And I’m inspired (and awed) by my favourite writers – people like Sarah Waters and Cormac McCarthy and Gillian Flynn and Stephen King and Yaa Gyasi and Shirley Jackson and Val McDermid and Muriel Spark.

The book that changed you?

The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Your pump up song?

Earplugs. Silence. Blinds pulled down (sorry!)

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead and or alive, who would it be?

Dead: Shirley Jackson. Alive: Stephen King

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?

It can take a very long time (I wrote a terrible book before Dark Pines – now locked securely in a drawer) so stick with it and learn to enjoy and focus on the process rather than the result.

Also: read as much as you can. Read widely. Read contemporary books and read books published a hundred years ago. Read across genres. Read books written by people who don’t look or sound or think like you.

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