1. Did you always want to become an author? If not, what made you make the decision to become one?
Not an author but I always enjoyed writing and had ambitions to go into journalism at one stage, plus I do quite a bit of writing for my job. But I heard a radio interview with GP Taylor who said that at the age of forty, he decided to become an author and as I was nearly forty at the time, it got me thinking. Eventually, about a year later and after a couple of practice books, I decided to give it a real go.
2. What’s your writing process like? Do you have a routine, or just write when you get inspiration?
I find I only have about 2-3 hours of decent writing in me each day and anymore than that, I end up deleting most the next day. I find I write better either early (8am onwards) or bizarrely after 6pm (but only for an hour or so) even if I’ve worked a full day on other things. And I have to have structured the whole book out beforehand so that the writing is about filling in each chapter based on what I’ve already decided is going to happen.
3. How do you choose the names of your characters in general, and also specifically Danni and Laura?
I try to find names I like and that I’m comfortable with because I have to live with them for quite a while. One thing I do is have imaginary conversations so I know how it sounds out loud. Interestingly, with Child Taken, Laura was always her name from day one but I changed to Danni and also Jessica at a very late stage because Red Door asked me to (with Jessica it was to avoid having the same name as a character from another of their books). For everyone, I also research the most popular names from the relevant year to make sure they are appropriate.
4. What was the biggest barrier you had to overcome in the process of getting Child Taken published?
I found the process of submitting to agents very frustrating. I had some great feedback followed by months of waiting and lots of rejection with a ‘but we really like it’ caveat that made me keep thinking it was always so near yet so far. One arranged a meeting then cancelled with literally a couple of minutes left which was very numbing at the time because it knocks your confidence. Now that people are saying things like ‘Best Thriller they’ve read’ and ‘Best debut they’ve read’ I can’t help feel that some of them should have taken a closer look but luckily, I didn’t give in and Red Door were absolutely magnificent when they got hold of it.
5. What ambition did you have as a younger Darren which you still hope to achieve?
That’s a great question. This has topped everything I’d done before or hoped to do (and I think a hat trick in an FA Cup Final is probably beyond me now) but I’ve always been a massive film fan so I guess my new ambition is to see Child Taken on the screen.
6. Which authors inspire you?
I found reading while writing quite hard to balance but before I started writing I loved thrillers by Simon Kernick and David Baldacci amongst others, and Mark Billingham’s books were an inspiration to me when I started writing. I also love a book called Manslaughter United by Chris Hulme which really inspired my style of writing.
7. Any tips for aspiring authors?
Don’t give up even if people keep knocking you back but at some stage, you have to say ‘am I prepared to keep going through this?’ because it takes its toll. But if you’ve had enough encouragement from people in the know to suggest you can write, then you have to take the rejection on the chin and move past it. The best thing I did was decide that I simply would not accept Child Taken not being published.
8. How was publication day?
It was amazing. To pretty much fill out a large room of Waterstones and end up signing books for over an hour were things I’d never imagined I’d ever do or be capable of. But the whole build up including the reviews was a special time and made all the harder times worthwhile.
9. Any interesting or random facts about yourself?
There’s not that much that’s too exciting but:
– I play tennis at least once a week
– my favourite food is Italian (that’s why I married into an Italian family!)
– I’ve done a half marathon and a triathlon (once was definitely enough)
– I’m a little addicted to Orlando theme parks
– I used to commute to Brussels for work
– I don’t have an absolute favourite film (Jaws if pushed) but I’m just glad I have kids as the children’s films these days are so good I need an excuse to watch them all
– I hate flying (but of the grip the seat variety not avoiding it at all costs)
Read review and Q&A on Misti’s website