Welcome to Clubhouse Chat page. Those of you who are not a member won’t be aware that the location of the Clubhouse is shrouded in mystery. The only way to visit it is via membership or an invite to the tearoom. Every few days, I’ll be sharing a conversation with all sort of writers and authors at different levels of their writing careers. Over tea and cakes, or maybe a glass of something stronger, I shall be chatting with my guest about their work in progress, or latest book release.
Today I’m welcome Dean to the tearoom. Welcome Dean. My first question is what drink would you like?
Thank you for the invite, Paula. Earl Grey tea, two sugars, no milk – please!
Right, now we have our refreshments let me ask you to tell us a little about your latest writing project. Is it a new idea, or one you have been mulling over for some time?
This has certainly been an interesting year hasn’t it to say the least. Lockdowns aside, it’s been incredibly busy for me and right now I’m developing a sci-fi / period tv series with Adrian Baldwin (who also does the covers / branding for DEMAIN), a couple of projects with Dave Jeffery and a third tv project with actor / Martial Arts Master John Carrigan which is based on his life and published non-fiction book. There’s also another tv series idea I’m working on with two other writers which is very very special indeed but I can’t say too much about that one I’m afraid as I’m sworn to secrecy. I recently joined a Scottish based film and tv production company which is keeping me busy to say the least. I’m also working on a number of my own (commissioned) feature film projects (horror and period drama) AND I’ve written a couple of short stories which will soon be seeing the light of day. People seem to know I run DEMAIN PUBLISHING which is really cool but my day job is a full-time writer so I need to get more of my work out there – I’ve been drafting a novel this year so perhaps if I can find a publisher for that I’ll start hitting it hard – it’s a horror story based in France.
How many unfinished projects do you have on your computer?
For a change, I don’t think I have that many actually as I’m usually writing to commission but this year I’ve written two additional spec feature film scripts which need a bit of reworking. One is a horror / thriller and is quite ‘specific’ in the structure and the other is a low budget time-travelling story – I’ve had great fun with both but want to have them 100% before I give them to a producer. I do have an almost finished horror (and period drama!) novella with the French poet Arthur Rimbaud as the protagonist – that’d be real fun to get out there. I ‘finished’ it a couple of years ago but have left it on the back burner all this time – perhaps it’s the right time to resurrect it and give it that final polish, there could be a series in it too!
Do you write a synopsis first or write the first chapter? If you only write short stories, screenplay do you plan your story or play or let the characters lead you?
Normally, all I need is the title and I’m good to go – I can spend days / weeks dwelling over a title before I even worry about the plot. That’s for short stories etc. For the screenplays as they’ve been in the main period drama these last couple of years then I’ve had to do a lot of research / planning as I like to be as historically accurate as possible (though I will bend the truth if the story requires). For my horror fiction in the main I’m happy for the characters to take me places I hadn’t even thought of.
Choosing only five of your favourite authors, or Screen writer. Can you list them in order 1 begin the top of your list and say how have they influenced your writing?
- Clive Barker – Clive is the alpha and the omega as far as I’m concerned. I do what I do because of him. Hellraiser is my go to film and he / it still inspires me to do this day. I’ve been lucky to meet him a couple of times, to direct one of his plays, and I’m extremely blessed to call several of the actors from the series, my friends.
- Umberto Eco – for me his influence began with The Name Of The Rose which when I first read it as a kid, blew me away (I also enjoyed the film and the recent tv series) but all his subsequent work (novels and philosophical essays etc) have had a massive impact on me as both writer and person. I was never able to meet Umberto while he was alive, but the horror novel I mentioned I was working on is heavily influenced by Umberto and his writings.
- John Fowles – every year I read Fowles’ The Magus and all these years later I still find new stuff in it. For DEMAIN we recently published a Short Sharp Shocks! by James Marx and I told him that it was a shoo in from the start as it reminded me of The Magus. I would so love to get the film rights and make a proper film of the book – I know I could do it justice.
- Arthur Rimbaud – ah, Arthur. As well as the novella, I’ve been developing a project with a foundation in London about M. Rimbaud. What a character he certainly was. I’m also currently writing a short film about Rimbaud – my first script in French.
- William Burroughs – I was introduced to Burroughs at University and admit I was hooked. I’ve been lucky enough to put together two anthologies of stories inspired by him too – I’d love to make a movie based on his work but appreciate he’s not to everyone’s taste ha ha.
Were any of your characters inspired by real people?
Always! I love writing about real people in my stories and basing made up characters on people I know. Watch out is all I say haha.
What did you learn when writing your book (story, play or nonfiction)? In writing it, how much research did you do?
I love writing the historical dramas because though they’re set in periods I’m particularly interested in, I learn so much. It was great when Romain (Collier) and I wrote our award winning feature script (and now being developed as a tv series) about the son of Napoleon. Though we were based in the South of France we had to go to Paris and Vienna to do lots of additional research – this was important as there were lots of little ‘nuances’ that we were able to add that we wouldn’t have known unless we’d gone. For the history stories I would say that I spend a good month or so doing the research before I start plotting / writing. For me it’s all about finding the right ‘angle’ which then opens up the whole story and once I start, it’s not easy for me to stop haha.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing? Do you set yourself a daily word count? How many hours in a day do you write?
I generally work 14 or so hours a day, seven days a week, right now as there’s so much going on. I’m at the laptop from about 8am working on DEMAIN for a good couple of hours before then hitting my own writing. If I’m writing a story I’ll do at least 1,000 words a day, for a script at least 10 pages – the ‘problem’ is that I’m working on several projects at the same time (just the way my mind works) so I’ll probably be producing three, four thousand words and maybe as many as fifty pages of script. With the new production company I’ve joined we’re shooting our first film early next year so there’s lot of pre-production work going on and we have several (zoom) meetings a week. I always have music playing in the background and that really helps (my taste is very eclectic and recently I’ve been listening to a lot of Tom Waits, Daniel Lanois, Sammy Davis Jr, HRVY, Fleetwood Mac, The Vamps, Robbie Robertson, Joni Mitchell, the Smashing Pumpkins) my concentration.
How do you select the names of your characters? Do you know everything about them before you start writing their story?
Generally when I start writing the short stories / novellas I don’t know character names so I use the names of people I know or film stars / musicians / footballers etc and then as I draft / redraft I start swapping them around and grant them their ‘real’ names. And do I know everything about them? No way and that’s the fun as far as I’m concerned. The last eighteen months or so I’ve been playing with the idea of the ‘unreliable narrator’ which has been great fun. What’s that saying – “we don’t know everything about anybody, even those closest to us” – something like that anyway, and as far as I’m concerned, never a truer word spoken.
How long on average does it take you to write a book (story, poem, or play)?
For a story (so let’s say 5,000) probably a week or two of ‘playing’ and then a week of hard graft to get it right; for a 60 min tv episode, it’s roughly a week research then three weeks to write about three drafts of the script; for a feature it’s a couple of months but that depends on who’s paying and how much!
Thank you so much for such an interest chat, Dean. Please enjoy more of what the tearoom has to offer and when you’re ready our driver Brutus will run you home or wherever you need to go.
Dean’s Short Sharp Shocks! Dirty Paws is currently available on Amazon (paperback / ebook) and his anthology The Thread Of The Infinite is available on Amazon (paperback / ebook) and all good book-shops. Dean’s Amazon author’s Page
If you want to find out more about Clubhouse Member’s Books don’t forget to check out the Clubhouse Bookshops .