So, has anyone heard of David Owen before?!! Well to tell you the truth, until “Panther” I had not. Thank God! This title put him on the map and I cannot wait to read what he writes next. But for now, you have my review of his wonderful book which will be enough of a taster I hope to make you want to purchase the book. And you can also stick around to get to know him a little more. He had quite a bit to say below.
LaChouett: What part did you like the most, the student or the teacher, and why?
David: I really enjoyed being a creative writing student, because I learned so much in that time, and went from being a really quite awful writer to a passable one. It was great to have so many people to bounce ideas off and learn from. But teaching was great because I got to have a hand in young people (hopefully!) experiencing the same thing. I’m always keeping an eye out for students of mine making successes of themselves.
LaChouett: How did you shake the fear of sharing your work?
David: I’ve never been too shy about it. Whenever I wrote stories I would show them to people, usually demanding that they recognise my genius! And then sharing becomes second nature when you’re doing a creative writing degree – you’ll share your work most weeks. I’m probably a bit more secretive now that I’m published; I don’t want anyone seeing my awful early drafts!
LaChouett: In your debut novel, you chose to explore one aspect of mental health in youth. Why did you want to write about that?
David: It’s something I’ve experienced personally, as depression runs in my family. So I’ve seen how devastating an illness it can be. Most importantly, mental health rates in young people are rising, and we’re still terrible at recognising, understanding, and treating it. Until that changes a lot of people are going to suffer, and possibly die. I hope that books like Panther might help make some small difference.
LaChouett: How did you come up with the Derrick character? Did you have to toy with different ideas for the main protagonist?
David: Derrick came fairly naturally, because there’s a lot of me in him. I struggled to understand a family member’s depression, and I struggled badly with my weight and disordered eating. So that gave me a very strong base to build the character upon, and find the balance between having him do the extreme things he does and still have him be likeable and empathetic.
LaChouett: Why was it important to make the monster real and tangible?
David: Well, depending on your interpretation, the monster might not be real at all. I left that entirely up to the reader. But it had to be tangible to Derrick to give him a physical foe to fight against. That’s what he needs in his life because depression is so invisible. It helps him deal with everything that is happening in his family.
LaChouett: How do you balance your work as a fiction writer and a journalist?
David: I work full time hours now, so I don’t get to write fiction quite as much as I’d like. I’m quite disciplined though. I get up early in the morning to write before work, and then do a couple of hours more in the evening. I don’t have much of a life, so it’s not too difficult!
LaChouett: Are we likely to see a comic strip version of the dwarves stealing beards maybe?
David: Haha, sadly not! I still really love that story because it was surreal and silly, but with the gift of hindsight it was also total nonsense!
LaChouett: What is your favourite video game of all time and why?
David: Metal Gear Solid on the PlayStation. It completely shattered my perception of what video games could be. Not only did it encourage you to sneak past people instead of killing them, it also managed to tell a big, compelling, melodramatic story, packed with bizarre and memorable characters, wrapped up in graphics that are ugly as sin now but were groundbreaking at the time. I’ve played through it 6-7 times, and plan to go back soon.
LaChouett: Can you tell us “10 things” we don’t know about David Owen?…Ok, Ok 5 then :).
David: Okay, I’m sure I can manage five things!
– I once spent £120 on a rare video game which I wasn’t even able to play. I just wanted it. Fortunately a few years later I sold it at a profit.
– Only three books have ever made me cry: “I Am David” by Anne Holm, “The Subtle Knife” by Philip Pullman, and “Jennie” by Paul Gallico. I only cried at the latter because the ending made me SO ANGRY.
– I am spectacularly (though I think sensibly) scared of sharks.
– I once fell flat on my face right at the front of Rochester Cathedral, directly in front of the choir.
– I hate raisins. Hate them.
LaChouett: What is your biggest inspiration?
David: I’m inspired pretty much every day by following other writers on Twitter and seeing just how hard they work and how passionate they are about what they do, despite the rewards often being so meagre. It inspires me to keep working hard so that I can be as good a writer as possible!
Thanks for sharing David. It was a pleasure!!