Firstly I must say a huge thank you to Will for being a Blog guest, I’m a massive fan and this is a fabulous honour! Now on with the Q&A!
JW: I’d like to start by asking, have you always wanted to be a writer? Or have you had any other jobs?
WD; I’ve always been a reader. When I was a kid growing up in the Midlands I’d visit a mobile library truck and borrow as many books as I could (my parents were not readers and there were no books at home). It never really occurred to me I could be a writer one day. I didn’t think that option was available to someone like me and I was just happy to be a voracious reader. I worked many varied jobs (labourer on a building site, retail, bar work, selling haircut coupons on the streets, finance and technology) and then in my mid-30s I realised I’d like to try to write my own stories.
JW; In Wolf pack we see Tuva come up against a group of Survivalists, how much research went into writing this – and are you one!
WD; The Tuva books are partly inspired by my fascination and admiration of the Swedish wilderness. I live in a remote Swedish forest and I’m still in awe of the moose, the winters, local folklore, the wolves, and the scale of the landscape. Tuva herself came to me fully formed one day. I’m a visual writer and I ‘saw’ an overgrown elk forest from above. I zoomed in (in my mind’s eye) and saw a pickup truck snaking through the trees. I ‘looked’ through the driver’s side window and saw a young woman with hearing aids. I wanted to understand where she was driving from and what she was driving towards. I wanted to know her story.
I do a huge amount of research for each novel. I enjoy that phase – it’s very fruitful in terms of ideas and forming characters. I’m not a survivalist myself although living here off-grid we do grow a lot of our own food, take water from our well, and heat our wooden house with logs I cut.
JW; Who would you like to see playing the part of Tuva Moodyson, if and when the series is turned into a TV Show/Movie?
WD; I have an actress in mind but I can’t talk about it yet because the development process is underway. I’ll keep you updated!
JW; As a child growing up, were you an avid reader or was television your thing? Do you have a favourite childhood book or television programme?
WD; I loved (and continue to love) all forms of storytelling. My favourite childhood books were Danny, the Champion of the World, the Adrian Mole books, and Stephen King’s work (best read when you’re too young for them). My favourite childhood TV programs/movies were Round the Twist, X-Files, The Goonies, Tremors, Space Camp, Gremlins etc – the 80s were excellent for comedy-horror.
JW; As we’re now in September, which books that you’ve read this year has been your favourite? OR which are you most looking forward to?
WD; That’s a tough question. My favourites so far are probably: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell, Children of Men by PD James, and The Skeleton Key by Erin Kelly.
JW; Have you ever been starstruck by meeting one of your heroes in real life?
WD; I’ve met so many writers I admire. The only time (I hope) that I made a complete idiot of myself was meeting Michael Connolly at Harrogate this summer. The wonderful Denise Mina introduced us and I mumbled something about being a huge fan.
JW; What do you consider your greatest achievement?
WD; Juggling being a writer with being a husband and Dad.
JW; If you could go back in time, to one historical event, to witness it, what would it be and why?
WD; I would like to go back to 1971. I’d be in Hampden Academy, Maine, and I’d be taught English by Stephen King. That would be tremendous.
JW; What is something you are passionate about aside from writing?
WD; I’m passionate about a lot of things. Nature. Old mechanical watches (I like to restore them). Chopping and stacking wood. Hiking (I walk off-trail every morning with my St Bernard and it’s a great way to start each day, especially when the weather is bad). Reading. Open-water swimming. Visiting faraway places and going to cinemas early in the day when they’re almost empty. Bonfires.
JW; Can you share a shelfie with us? (A photo of your bookshelf)
JW; If you could invite four people to dinner, living or dead, who would you invite and why?
WD; Four is tough! First of all, I’d say my late Granddad. He was a fantastic man. He was raised as an orphan but later found out that wasn’t quite true. He was homeless for a while and left school at 14 to become a wheelwright’s apprentice. He grew much of his own food. He taught himself about the world by buying second-hand books. He was a painter and decorator but despite a tough start in life, he was incredibly warm and fun-loving. As for the other three: Robin Williams, Maya Angelou, and my 8-year-old son (so he can meet his great-grandad).
JW; What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
WD; Treat everyone with kindness and respect, no matter who they are or what they do. Give the benefit of the doubt as much as you can. Listen to advice but be wary of following it. Look after each other. Put your hands in the soil as often as you can. All advice from my Grandad.
JW; What’s next? What are you currently working on??
WD; I’m working on Tuva 6 right now. I have been working on my standalone next novel (set on an ocean liner) that will be out next year. I’ve also been working on my 2024 standalone (set in the Midlands). I like to keep busy here in the dark forest.