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Monday, May 28, 2012

Interview with Dave Evardson

For many years Dave and Julie Evardson have earned a following around the country for their special brand of mainly maritime folk song. Dave’s songs touch on several subjects and in particular celebrate Grimsby’s (Lincolnshire, UK) fishing heritage. But as well as creating rhyming lyrics Dave has also been busy writing novels, at last finding success with Fireship Press of Tucson, Arizona.

Fireship specializes in historical and maritime books, but is issuing Dave’s work via its Cortero Publishing imprint, helping reinforce its foothold in the market for thrillers, nineteenth-century classics and fantasy.

The Fenwold Riddle is a dystopian science fiction adventure for young adults, which Dave hopes will also appeal to readers of all ages who enjoy a good story.

Explaining his plot, Dave says, “For centuries the land of Fenwold has been surrounded by a huge, impenetrable concrete wall. No one knows who made it, or why. The people mostly eke out a subsistence living from agriculture, but lately gangs of raiders have thwarted their efforts by stealing their harvests and burning their villages. At last Fenwold’s ruling Council sends out trained marshals to help the villagers fight off the raiders.

“One of these is young Marshal Dominic Bradley. He organises farmers in the south west of Fenwold to combat a local gang led by the vicious outlaw known simply as Red. But Bradley is also charged with another task - to find a way through the Wall and lead his people to whatever lies beyond. He has no idea how to achieve this, until he hears an old woman recite a strange and compelling riddle.

“During his quest he makes astounding discoveries about his country’s past – and his people’s destiny.”

Dave has already started writing a sequel to his book, and also has two other novels "looking for a publisher."

I was able to ask Dave three compelling questions: 

JK: What inspired the plot and characters of The Fenwold Riddle?

DE: I enjoy fiction woven into social history. I also enjoy science fiction. My favourite author who managed expertly to combine the two was John Wyndham (Day Of The Triffids, The Midwich Cuckoos, etc). All right, so I’m old-fashioned. And I’m not the first to site a novel behind a wall. I wanted to explore how normal people might react to the inevitable social breakdown as the population expanded. Heroes would emerge, as would villains, but real change would only come about with the cooperation of ordinary people. Add to that the mystery of why Fenwold was enclosed in the first place, and you have the basis of a story that almost tells itself. In terms of characters I chose a hero with imperfections – inexperienced, priggish and misogynistic - plenty of room for improvement there - and a heroine with a physical imperfection who nevertheless succeeds in getting under his skin.

JK: How long have you been writing novels?

DE: Since September 1990 - mid-life crisis time? That was when I had my ‘Road to Damascus’ vision, while on holiday in Northern Italy. I was fairly happy with my work as an industrial accountant, and my social life singing and writing songs. But I wanted a new literary outlet. I had completed editing and publishing (on a shoestring) my Dad’s autobiography A Fitter’s Life which sold about 650 copies locally, and I’d acquired a taste for story telling. But as I suspect many novice writers do, I plunged right in without planning, research or much preparation at all. As a result I’ve only just finished that first comedic thriller. I wonder if twenty-two years is some kind of a record? Apart from The Fenwold Riddle, I’ve now almost concluded a second humorous adventure novel and I’m well into my Fenwold sequel.

JK: I understand you wrote The Fenwold Riddle as a member of a writers' group. Can you explain the benefits of that experience?

DE: Yarborough Writers was absolutely essential. Unless you’re a real "natural," only by exposing your work to honest criticism do you really have a chance of improving. Sometimes you’ll go away feeling hurt by having your composition ripped apart, but you think about what was said, develop the integrity to sift the good advice from mere differences in taste, amend your work accordingly and learn from the experience. Augment this with a few carefully chosen courses, and you should find your writing improves considerably.

JK: I'm leaving a similar great writers' group behind in Arizona and cannot recommend such groups enough. Thank you so much for stopping by, Dave.

The Fenwold Riddle is also available both as hard copy and as an e-book wherever fine books are sold.

See Dave and Julie’s website for more about their songs and writing.