Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, David Richards – David Richards is a charismatic, mysterious gentleman in his late 20s with a zest for life and a yearning to sing. He lives in Manchester with his husband and two children, Rula and Jinkx.
Thanks so much, David, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
DR: I have always wanted to write. It was just actually sitting down and getting the words onto the page. I had an idea for a book and, after a couple of false starts, I surprised myself by actually finishing it. I was originally only going to print off a few copies for family and friends, just to say ‘Look! I wrote a book!’ but after receiving positive feedback from them, I put it up for sale. Then I wrote another, then another, then two more!
JSC: How would you describe your writing style/genre?
DR: Eclectic. My first book, ‘The ‘Lovely’ Past’ is about time travel, my next two, ‘The ‘Lovely’ Old Dears’ and ‘The ‘Lovely’ Old Dears 2′ were about a pair of old lady serial killers, ‘Grounded’ is about superheroes and ‘Bitches’ is about witches. The thing that ties them all together is that they are set in the same, Northern town.
JSC: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
DR: That was ‘The ‘Lovely’ Past’. I wanted to write a ‘what if?’ story. Everybody wants to go back and change something in their past, so I wanted to write a story where they got that chance. My main character, Daniel, finds himself back in the body of his seven-year-old self in a not so happy childhood. He’s a 40-year-old man in a seven-year-old body and he’s not best pleased, to put it mildly!
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
DR: Both! I will go into a new book knowing how I want it to turn out. I have my research notes and an outline, sometimes notecards, but it has never gone exactly how I wanted it to go. Sometimes the characters will have their own ideas.
‘Grounded’ ended up being a completely different novel to the one that I had originally set out to write, from the story to the villain and everything in-between.
JSC: Name the book you like most among all you’ve written, and tell us why.
DR: ‘Bitches’. Hands down. I love all my books, but ‘Bitches’ was a pleasure to write. I absolutely loved doing all the research into historical women who my main character, Catherine, had been over the centuries. I’m sad that I’m not still writing it but out of all my books, ‘Bitches’ is the one that I’m most proud of.
JSC: Who did your cover, and what was the design process like?
DR: My husband does all my covers. I give him an idea and he seems to know exactly what I want. The design process is him writing down what I want, then sending me away while he works on it!
JSC: Tell us one thing about them that we don’t learn from the book, the secret in their past.
DR: Catherine killed Jack the Ripper. I had the chapter plotted out but I just couldn’t find where it would fit into the book. I still might write the chapter and use it as a short story.
JSC: Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
DR: Catherine, definitely. She’s the most powerful witch alive and she’s common as muck. I absolutely love her.
JSC: What qualities do you and your characters share? How much are you like them, or how different are they from you?
DR: Like most of my characters, I am also common as muck. The differences are that I have never been a witch, serial killer, time traveller, or superhero. I have been called a witch a few times. I think that’s what they were calling me, anyway.
JSC: What are you working on now?
DR: I’m currently writing ‘The ‘Lovely’ Old Dears 3′. After the second one I said that their story was done, but Pam and Jean (my old dears) had other ideas. This will be the last Old Dears book, though. Probably…
And now for David’s new book: Bitches:
Sometimes you have to be a witch to get things done.
Catherine, the most powerful witch alive, knows how to look after herself. After all – she’s been around for a very, very long time.
Unfortunately, something is wrong with Catherine’s powers so she is forced to enlist the help of a local coven who may be able to fix her.
If that isn’t bad enough, Catherine is being hunted by a puritanical witch hunter whose divine duty is to eradicate all witches from the face of the earth.
With the witch hunter closing in, time is running out for Catherine and the coven.
She’s survived wars, witch trials, and a wine-free wedding, but this is shaping up to be her greatest challenge yet.
Prepare yourself for a magical tale that is (mostly) historically accurate.
Athens (Attica, Greece)
As the meal ended, so the symposium began.
Socrates was on his feet before the plates had been cleared away, already looking for a sparring partner.
As the music grew louder and the wine was poured, the guests of the party started to mill about; exchanging gossip, flirting, whispering scandalous rumours…
‘Ah, Sophocles,’ Socrates said, spying a victim. ‘What say we have a spirited debate?’
Sophocles shook his head and followed a servant boy into the pantry that he could flirt some more.
‘Aspasia!’ Socrates said, grabbing the hostess by the arm, that she couldn’t escape. ‘A wonderful evening. My highest compliments.’
‘Aye, cheers,’ Aspasia said, shaking off his grip. ‘Not too pissed, are we? You know what you’re like.’
‘Worthless people live only to eat and drink; people of worth eat and drink only to live,’ he told her.
‘Give over,’ Aspasia said with a laugh. ‘I saw you necking that wine and shovelling that food down like it was going out of fashion. Don’t put on airs with me.’
‘I’ll behave,’ Socrates promised.
‘Aye, you’d better,’ Aspasia said. ‘Only, I’ve got Pericles upstairs shitting like it’s going out of fashion, and I’ve got this party to run down here. I don’t need you gobbing off and getting folk’s backs up as usual. Know your limits.’
‘Know thy limits,’ Socrates muttered as Aspasia walked away. ‘Know thyself! Consider that stolen, Aspasia!’
‘Yeah, yeah,’ Aspasia said, waving him off and going to check on Pericles. ‘Like every other sodding thing you spout off. It’s all nicked from me, you bloody old thief.’
‘Aspasia?’ Pericles asked from his bed as she entered his room, closing the door behind her to shut out the noise from the party. ‘Aspasia, is that you? How goes it? Are our guests entertained.’
‘Aye,’ Aspasia said, taking a seat next to him. She wrinkled her nose at the smell of waste and decay coming from his bed. Pericles was in a bad way. ‘I’ve just warned Socrates not to be a bloody old soak.’
Pericles laughed, which turned into a wracking cough. Aspasia panicked and patted his back to clear the phlegm, then passed him some water.
‘Gratitude,’ Pericles said, taking small sips. ‘Oh, Aspasia. Is there nothing you can do?’
‘Oh, Pericles love,’ Aspasia said, sadly. ‘We’ve talked about this.’
‘I know, my love,’ Pericles said. ‘But it hurts. My head, my limbs… And the people of Athens! That they also suffer this plague! Aspasia, do something. I beg of you.’
‘Pericles, sweetheart,’ Aspasia said, softly. ‘I want to. You know that I want to.’
‘And you have the means,’ Pericles said. ‘When Hemippus wanted to try you for impiety…’
‘That prick,’ Aspasia said. ‘Just because I make an effort with my appearance and live by my own rules, that makes me impious? Knob. The fact that I am impious is what makes me impious! And offences against morality! You do ONE striptease…’
‘Aspasia!’ Pericles said, as forcefully as he could manage. Aspasia stopped talking and listened. ‘When he wanted to try you, you half-blinded him with a word.’
‘He suits that patch,’ Aspasia said. ‘And it wasn’t for me. He was being a right shit about you, Pericles. You are not a bully OR a coward. He’s lucky I just took the one.’
‘You are a comfort to me, Aspasia,’ Pericles said. ‘But this plague has claimed my sister and two of my sons. What more would it have from me? What more would it have from Athens? Bodies are being burned in the streets, Aspasia. Would you not see an end to it?’
Aspasia got up from the chair and looked out of the window. Sure enough, pyres had been lit all around the city. Bodies were being burned that the disease would spread no further.
‘Pericles,’ Aspasia said, calmly. ‘I’m not going to stop the plague. I’m sorry. It’s not nice, but it’s happening and that’s that.’
‘But you have the means?’ Pericles asked.
‘I do,’ Aspasia said, going back to sit beside him. ‘But it’s all about balance, love. Much as I don’t like it, this is what has to happen. I’m sorry. I am. Out of all my husbands and wives, you’re in my top ten and I’m sorry that you’re going out like this.’
‘Top ten?’ Pericles asked. ‘How many….’
Aspasia shushed him, then stood from her seat.
‘I can do something for you,’ Aspasia continued. ‘Ease your pain. Send you off peacefully.’
‘Yes!’ Pericles cried out. ‘Anything! Anything to ease this accursed agony!’
‘Alright,’ Aspasia said. She rubbed her hands together then held them over Pericles and whispered. ‘Levamentum’.
Pericles let out a deep sigh as the pain left his body. For the first time in what seemed forever, he felt at peace and, as he slipped away, he looked up at the face of his beloved Aspasia and spoke his last.
Aspasia gave a small smile and was surprised to feel a single tear trickle down her cheek. She bent down, ignoring the smell coming from his bed, and gave Pericles a final kiss.
‘Goodnight, love,’ she whispered, then returned to the party.
David Richards is a charismatic, mysterious gentleman in his late 20s with a zest for life and a yearning to sing. He lives in Manchester with his husband and two children, Rula and Jinkx.