An Interview with Dane Cobain – author and poet.
I’m going to be reviewing your newest novel, but from your other published novels, is there one that is your own personal favourite?
That’s a tricky one. I often use the analogy of my books being like vital organs – you can’t pick just one because they’re all needed to keep you going. I suppose Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home is the most personal one, but I wouldn’t say I have a favourite.
I both love and hate novels that don’t leave a discrete ending for the reader. Have you ever felt the need to write sequels?
Funnily enough, although historically I’ve always written standalones, I’ve just started work on a series of detective novels. So there will be sequels coming soon!
There’s always another novel in the pipeline to write… Tell me about it! Does it have even a working title?
Yep, always! Well, I’m around 15,000 words into the first draft of the first detective novel, which is currently titled Driven. The second book in that series is called Netflix and Kill, the third book doesn’t have a title yet but it does at least have the starting point for the story line, and there’s also a standalone idea that I have that has the working title of Greebos.
Some advice other writers have given is that your first novel is best sitting in a drawer for a while, because then you feel stronger about chopping up ‘your baby’. Do you still have a copy of your first novel? Whether this was published or unpublished, I need to know!
It’s good advice. The first novel I wrote was called Annie, and I still have it on my hard drive, as well as in printed form and in its original hand-written manuscript form. I wrote that ten years ago, when I was seventeen and I didn’t really know what I was doing, and it’s definitely not fit for full publication. And then there’s No Rest for the Wicked, my first release – there was a period of five years or so between its first draft and final publication, and it underwent multiple rounds of editing.
Do you have a dedicated writing space? How does it meet your writing needs?
I live alone in an apartment, and so my living room doubles up as my writing studio. It means I can sit back on my sofa with my feet up on a foot stool, watching Netflix on the big screen whilst typing away on my desktop computer, right beside it. It’s comfortable, which means I can quite happily plug away for 16 hours a day over the weekend if I need to.
What is your writing process? Have you ever thought about changing it? Other authors I have interviewed talk about having an outline – post-it notes in an office, or writing in paper journals. Is there something like that in your writing technique? Or is it all digital for you?
I have a specific writing routine that I won’t go into here because it takes a long time to explain it, but it seems to work for me. I don’t change it, but I do adapt it from time to time. As for planning, I usually plan outlines and on my cigarette breaks at work while writing in my notebook. From there, I create character profiles, put it all into a document and print it out, so that I have a physical copy of it all to refer to when writing. The rest of my writing is done at a computer, but I only started doing that recently; I still have hand-written manuscripts for my earlier books.
How do you know when a novel or short story is finished? How do you know to step away and let the story speak for itself?
I have it all planned out before I start writing, and so I know when I’m finished because I get to the end of the last scene in the last chapter. As for stepping away from it, I think that working with an editor helps that – it’s less that you step away, and more that they step in and tell you what works and what doesn’t.
Do you have a preference for ebook or paperback format? This is for both your own reading and your novels.
I always prefer physical books. I only read physical copies and keep them all when I’ve finished reading them; I have about 1,000 books in my house at the moment, most of them read.
Social media is becoming a big thing. How does managing media outlets come into marketing your brand and your books?
I’d argue that it’s no longer becoming a big thing because it’s already become one. I work in social media marketing by day, and so I find that it’s one of the best marketing tools that I have at my disposal. But there are all sorts of other marketing methods that I rely on, too. Events tend to do pretty well!
You have answered other sets of interview questions, is there something you wish someone would have asked you? Or conversely, something you wish they hadn’t asked?
Not that I can think of – I always find it interesting to see the questions that people come up with.