Greetings from the Ether,
As you may already know, this issue of Hinnom Magazine will be a special David Turton issue, where we spotlight the up-and-coming author, whose debut novel is releasing in December. Turton has been a staple in Gehenna & Hinnom’s releases and we couldn’t be more excited to present this interview to you, where we dive into his novel The Malaise and what the future has in store for the author. Be prepared for some interesting exchanges and a major announcement from Turton made exclusively in this interview!
Alas, without further ado, let’s jump in!
CP: For those who are either new to your work, or who have only started reading your fiction, can you tell us a little about yourself? Where your love for writing began and where you hope it takes you?
DT: My love for writing actually began at a really young age. I always remember enjoying writing stories, putting pen to paper for hours on end. On holiday in France I won a competition for writing a diary of my holiday when I was around six years old and I just remember how proud I felt at being recognized for my writing. I went to University to study Journalism and the desire to write fiction disappeared as I learned the factual news side of writing. But I always kept up with reading, particularly horror. And one day in early 2017 I just decided to give it a go. And one novel and 23 published short stories later, I’ve never looked back. As for where it might take me, who knows? I work full time so I try and squeeze in writing in my spare time when I can, so I’ll just keep going and see what happens.
CP: The Malaise has some strong philosophical viewpoints about technology, and what it could potentially do to our society. What inspired these ideas and are any of them rooted in personal beliefs? If so, why?
DT: It’s a difficult one really. My professional experience is in digital marketing so much of the technological aspects of the novel were based on my own knowledge. I do think we rely on technology too heavily and potentially there are huge dangers if the wrong company, or the wrong person has a monopoly over personal data. Our reliance on technology does beg the question – was it better before this communications age? Are we now better connected, or more distant from each other? It’s certainly an interesting debate.
CP: Since there are so many post-apocalyptic tales out there, what did you feel was the most difficult part in capturing these concepts without running into cliché territory? Did you face any struggles in the story’s development?
DT: I suppose the most difficult part was the turn from pre-apocalyptic to post-apocalyptic and the description of the ruined world. I felt that, when I wrote the novel in early 2017, most apocalyptic stories centered around zombies so I purposefully wanted to avoid writing that kind of tale – although there is a little nod to that sub-genre. I also wanted the apocalypse to be deeper and more meaningful than simply death and destruction, to pose a contrast between utopia and dystopia, a perfect community and one that is flawed. So keeping that at the heart of the story was key to avoiding the clichés.
CP: One could say the main subject of the book is community, the importance thereof, and the consequences of forgetting our most basic necessities. Do you see a connection between the world of The Malaise and our own?
DT: Absolutely. As mentioned before, I feel that technology both enhances and detracts from communities. It enables us to reach out to all the corners of the earth easily, networking with people we have no right to be in contact with. The world is a much smaller place thanks to social media, and that is undoubtedly a positive thing for people connecting with each other, learning and sharing. But technology has to help facilitate community behavior, it cannot replace it. There’s a lot of good in the world, communities where people support each other, help their friends, neighbors, colleagues in times of need. When greed, hunger for power, and ego become the drivers for communication, that’s when things get ugly.
CP: What, in your eyes, really separates The Malaise from other popular works in post-apocalyptic sci-fi/horror?
DT: For me, post-apocalyptic fiction is the best genre around. It is the biggest ‘what if?’ question that could ever be asked – what would happen if the world ended? Who would survive, why and what would happen in the aftermath? My favorite apocalyptic novels are Justin Cronin’s The Passage trilogy and Stephen King’s The Stand. Both are sprawling tales with heavy supernatural elements, while The Malaise contains no paranormal components and instead focuses on a future that is dominated, and ultimately ruined, by an over-reliance on technology. I feel that there is a much more positive element to The Malaise’s vision of the end of the world in comparison to most other novels in the same genre and, in my eyes, this helps distinguish it from the pack.
CP: Your choice to focus on character development, and the evolution of a new era in mankind was bold and executed excellently. Was there any planning or plotting for the characters of the book beforehand? Or did the novel “write itself” as many say?
DT: I did a little bit of plotting but, even though it sounds like a cliché, much of the novel did write itself. In fact, something I didn’t see coming was the shift of narrative when the apocalypse takes place. It’s funny, as an author people naturally ask if they inspired a character, especially if they have the same first or last name. But in reality, characters have aspects borrowed from many different people, both real and fictional and they are created new from that mesh of experiences.
I didn’t want to turn The Malaise into a YA novel, but there is a strong ‘coming of age’ part of the story which I didn’t plan, but was partly inspired by my stepdaughter who was just about to turn 18 at the time I was writing the first draft. I don’t think I even realized that connection myself until I went back to the manuscript for the second draft.
I found out a lot about myself as a writer when I first penned this story. Sometimes you find yourself struggling with a certain character, whereas others you can’t stop writing about. There was one character in the novel, Ronnie, who I felt could have had a bigger role, so look out for him in the future…
CP: What’re you hoping readers will take away from The Malaise?
DT: First and foremost, that they simply enjoy it. I love post-apocalyptic stories, so I hope people who like this genre can see how my enthusiasm for it has transferred to a great story, a new take on the end of the world. Secondly, I suppose it would be great if people could reflect on their own place in society, where it’s going and what could happen if things were to go too far.
CP: With that explosive ending, and the cliffhanger at the end (no spoilers), are there plans for future installments? And what other projects are currently in the works for David Turton?
DT: This is the first time I’ve actually revealed this in public, but I can exclusively reveal to Hinnom Magazine that a sequel to The Malaise is currently in progress. Its early days – the first draft is around a quarter of the way in – but it’s feeling good so far and I’m excited about where it can go. Whether it will be a trilogy or a two-book series, I really don’t know, but I’m excited to find out. As well as this, I’ve been working on an ambitious historical horror novel set in a German concentration camp during the Second World War. Think The Boy in the Striped Pajamas meets Carrie and you’ll get the gist of where I’m going with it. I wrote this straight after The Malaise, after a visit to Berlin, but I’ve put it to one side for now as it needs much care and attention to get right. I’ve also got a very bizarre idea about two women who tackle various Lovecraftian horrors in a series of novellas, but that’s gone no further than a few bullet points of ideas, so I doubt that will come to fruition until late 2019. At the moment, I need to take one project at a time. I keep getting distracted writing short stories, a form of fiction I love, but I’m planning on settling down and writing longer form fiction for the next year.
CP: Your newest collection, Bonjour, Stevie and Other Short Tales of Horror, just released. Can you delve into that collection a little for our readers?
DT: It’s a follow-up to my first short story anthology, The Gull and Other Short Tales of Horror. While that collection was a nod to Stephen King, this one is very much a nod to H.P. Lovecraft. It contains four short stories, all based on the fear of the unknown. The titular story, “Bonjour, Stevie” I probably class as one of the best pieces of fiction I’ve written. It’s told over a series of emails from a father to a daughter, while he holidays in France. What begins as a very normal family communication descends into madness as the real reason for the father’s visit comes to light. It also contains “The Scrap Metal Man,” “The Horror in the Loch” and “It Emerges at Midnight.” Three of the four tales have been published by Gehenna & Hinnom, so your readers will no doubt enjoy them if they haven’t read them already. I’d recommend these reads if you like something to quickly go through in one sitting, whether it’s on your way to work, on your lunchbreak or if you just have a spare half hour – I’m sure you’ll enjoy them.
CP: We always like to cap off our interviews with a question for the readers, many of whom are writers themselves. What is the single best tidbit of advice you could give to someone interested in tackling fiction?
DT: Great advice is out there and it usually centers around two things – read a lot and write a lot. Personally I’m not a fan of the ‘write every day’ school of thought, as it can put yourself under too much pressure – we all lead busy lives and some days you just won’t have time, so why beat yourself up? So the best piece of advice I can give you is to believe in yourself. If you write, you’re a writer. It’s as simple as that. No one has the right to tell you otherwise, so be proud of anything you achieve.
Every time you write something, you will get better. Take notes everywhere you go that you could use. Little comments and phrases you hear. A character quirk that you find interesting. Start with short stories. Don’t rush. Send your stories to get published, there are many websites and magazines that publish authors of all levels of experience – everyone needs to start somewhere. And get used to rejection – it’s never, ever personal, so don’t take it personally. Your first draft is usually rubbish, so don’t be disheartened and keep going. And finally, enjoy it. You’re probably not going to make yourself rich, so have fun!
David Turton has extensive training in Journalism, Marketing and Public Relations and has been writing as a career for over fourteen years. A huge horror fiction fan, particularly the works of Stephen King, David has written several short stories, all centred around dark tales of horror and dystopia.
Follow David on Twitter @davidturton and visit David’s new website!
Thank you so much as always for stopping by. Make sure to follow David on social media and to pre-order his novel! You can also pre-order the upcoming issue of Hinnom Magazine, which will feature his story “The Horror in the Loch.” Check out our Patreon and our amazing newsletter might be of interest as well, if you’d like news and updates sent to you directly regarding Gehenna & Hinnom.