Hello! It’s been a few weeks and I’m happy to be back today on The Novel Approach Reviews. A big thank you to Lisa and all her reviewers for hosting us!
Let’s give a warm hello to our guest today, DSP Publications David C. Dawson. He’s joining us today to talk mystery and murder! His newest book The Necessary Deaths was released yesterday and it looks great!
Don’t believe me, take a look for yourself:
A young journalism student lies unconscious in a hospital bed in Brighton, England. His life hangs in the balance after a ketamine overdose. But was it attempted suicide, or attempted murder? At the request of the student’s mother, British lawyer Dominic Delingpole reluctantly takes on the role of investigator, aided by his outspoken opera singer partner, Jonathan McFadden.
The student’s boyfriend discovers compromising photographs hidden in his lover’s room. The photographs not only feature senior politicians and business chiefs, but the young journalist himself. Is he being blackmailed, or is he the blackmailer?
As Dominic and Jonathan investigate further, their lives are threatened and three people are murdered. They uncover a conspiracy that reaches into the highest levels of government and powerful corporations. The people behind it are ruthless, no one can be trusted. The bond between Dominic and Jonathan deepens as they struggle not only for answers, but for their very survival.
Elizabeth: Ketamine, blackmail and conspiracy! What an exciting combination. David graciously agreed to answer some questions for us, so let’s jump right in.
Elizabeth: Would you tell us a bit about your genre?
David:I would say that The Necessary Deaths is a romantic MM crime thriller. I’m not sure that is a defined genre – but it is now! I have always been a big fan of crime thrillers. I love the formulas they write to, the puzzles they set to be solved. But in the countless thrillers I read, I was bored that they always featured straight romances. Or in the few LGBTQ thrillers I came across, gay characters with angst. I wanted to read a crime thriller featuring gay romance, gay people without angst, all interwoven in a complex plot. So I wrote one.
Elizabeth: Writing your own is always a good way to get the book you want. Tell us about The Necessary Deaths.
David: The Necessary Deaths is the first in a five part series. It didn’t start out that way. It was just a bit of fun to begin with. But then I fell in love with the characters. When I wasn’t writing, I was thinking about how Dominic or Jonathan would react to something. They became very real to me, and I wanted them to exist beyond this one book. So I sat in the garden one afternoon, a gin and tonic in hand, and planned their lives together. Why a series of five? Well it’s less than seven and more than three, and I like odd numbers!
Elizabeth: David, how would you define “diversity” in your writing, and how you explored it in this book?
David:When I was young, I grew up in a petty suburban world where ‘normal’ was the only acceptable way to be. It never felt right to me. Racism, sexism and all the other ‘isms’ that existed, they were all casually enforced as part of the ‘norm’. To me, they felt wrong. A manifestation of ignorance, an unwillingness to understand anything that was different. Books, particularly popular books like thrillers, perpetuated this mythical vision of normal. My books depict a diverse world, with people who are happy, proud to be who they are. It’s the world as I see it. Nothing is ever ‘normal’, different is far more interesting!
Elizabeth: The Necessary Deathsis being published through DSP Publications, Dreamspinner Press’s imprint for genre novels that don’t necessarily focus on or even contain romance. Tell us about the relationship in The Necessary Deathsand why it doesn’t fit the accepted definition of Romance in the M/M genre.
David:This book is primarily a thriller. It’s full of suspense, jeopardy and conspiracy. For that, I’m heavily influenced by a brilliant French thriller writer called Marc Levy. And to a certain extent by James Runcie, who wrote The Grantchester Mysteries. Both writers have their own distinctive approaches in the way they unfold their stories. It’s something I’ve learned – you need to create a grammar that the audience understands. Then you break the rules of that grammar for dramatic effect.
But there’s also a developing relationship between Dominic and his partner Jonathan. Inevitably, this is tested when they’re embroiled in the jeopardy of the conspiracy. And it is a romance. So when it comes to romance, I’m strongly influenced by the later writings of Armistead Maupin. The tenderness and affection with which he treats his central characters is a powerful lesson in writing. I aspire to that. No character can be perfect, but the protagonists flaws must be believable, and forgivable.
Elizabeth: And now for the lightening round!
Tell us about the evolution of this story. What was its earliest incarnation as a concept and when did it begin to take the form of The Necessary Deaths?
David: The Necessary Deathsstarted as The Reluctant Detective. When I was young, I always dreamed of coming across a mystery and solving it with a friend – just think Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew! Dominic and Jonathan were the adult manifestation of that childhood daydream. The plot comes from my background as a journalist. It’s based on sound science, laced with a good serving of paranoia.
Elizabeth: What do you do for fun? Do you have a pet who supervises your writing?
David: I sing with the London Gay Men’s Chorus in my spare time. I’m a bass, I was once a tenor but with age my voice has slipped down the register. It’s a great social group, all with the common aim of combatting homophobia through the power of music. We’ve sung in some fabulous places, including at the Houses of Parliament, when the government was passing equal marriage legislation for the UK. I also like riding my aging Triumph motorbike around Europe. It gives me thinking time. A pet? I have two cats called Fidget and Fluffy. They’re brother and sister, and they love and hate each other in equal measure! Do they supervise? Well, if you call walking across the keyboard at crucial moments, pressing the erase key, then yes, they edit my work!
Elizabeth: How has your writing changed since you published your first book?
David: I now spend much more time re-editing my work. Few books are any good in their first draft. I think the best books are created through constant and imaginative editing. I will have gone through at least five complete redrafts before I submit a book to a publisher. That’s when the editing process with the publisher starts, which I love. I come from a television background, where the creative process is hugely collaborative. I’ve not always enjoyed the solitude of writing, so I relish the chance to engage with an editor.
Elizabeth: If you were writing your book today is there something you’d change or do differently?
David: I had a huge problem with this book at the final proofing stage. The British public voted for Brexit – leaving the European Union. And one of the characters was an MEP – a Member of the European Parliament. Fortunately, DSP Publications were hugely helpful and accommodated a rewrite at the eleventh hour. It’s not an experience I would like to repeat!
Elizabeth: What goes into naming characters? Do the names have significance?
David: Names are incredibly important to me. The rhythm of their words needs to be right, because they appear in the story so frequently. I like alliteration, hence Dominic Delingpole. I’ve just created some new characters for a different series I’m developing. One of them’s called Deidre Davenport. I also like to play with names, abbreviate them, create nicknames from them. That’s why one of the minor characters, who’s very muscular, is called ‘Pat’. Jonathan immediately renames him ‘Pat the Pecs’.
Elizabeth: Do you write in different genres and if so how difficult is it to do?
David: I’m a thriller writer primarily. I love complicated puzzles, I love pitting my characters against difficult situations, and then pondering how they can overcome them. I’m fascinated by thrillers with a supernatural angle. Marc Levy is a master at these. He creates puzzles that can exist in other worlds parallel to this one. I have never been very confident about my grasp of history, and so I’ve held back from writing an historical novel. That said, I plan to write a novel set in the mid twentieth century. Research for that period is easier, as I still have my amazing mother alive at the grand age of ninety-three. She will be my expert.
Elizabeth: What sort of research did you need to do?
David: I set The Necessary Deaths in British locations that I know well – London, Oxford and Brighton, on the English south coast. I did visit all the places after I wrote the book, primarily to verify that my memory hadn’t failed me. But also for fun. London, Oxford and Brighton are all fabulous cities, dynamic and vibrant. The second book in the Delingpole Mysteries series moves between Sitges in Spain, and San Francisco in the US. Again, I know both places very well. But I don’t know a lot about killing people or drugging them! So I had to do some detailed research on that. I hope no one from MI5 was monitoring my internet activity, they’ll have me down as a serial killer by now..
Elizabeth: And because everyone likes to talk about what they’re doing the old standby: What projects are you working on now and what is coming next from you?
David: I’m really thrilled that DreamSpinner Press has chosen one of my short stories to appear in the Love Wins anthology for the Orlando shooting victims. I’m three quarters the way through the second Delingpole Mystery and I’m developing the concept of an MM supernatural story set in London during the Second World War.
Elizabeth: David has provided us with an excerpt for our enjoyment. Links to David’s social media and to purchase The Necessary Deaths are below that.
A huge THANK YOU to everyone joining us today. We’re always so excited to bring you new books and hope you find a new author to love!
“Mrs. Gregory,” said Dominic. “I would be very happy to have you as a client, but I’m not sure in what way I can act for you.”
Samantha smiled. “And neither am I just at the moment. Let’s call you a professional friend. I have no one else who I can turn to, and your legal mind will help me to see things a little more clearly. As you can tell, I’m a little emotional just now.” She turned away to wipe a tear from the corner of her eye. Then she looked at him steadily.
“Simon and I are very close. Ever since Richard, his father, died in a climbing accident, we have been a very tight family unit. I’d like to think Simon and I can tell each other everything.”
Dominic wondered if she was keeping up a brave front, or whether she really believed Simon told her everything. Her comments clearly contradicted what Simon’s housemate Jay had said an hour ago. Dominic decided that, as she was his client, he owed her the duty of honesty, and he should tell her about what he had learned in the last few hours.
“Samantha, I’m afraid I believe Simon may not have confided everything in you in recent times. I went to see John this morning before coming here. He told me about their relationship and how Simon was not yet ready to tell you.”
“Dominic, I’m his mother. Do you think that I didn’t know?” She sighed. “I knew he was finding it difficult to tell me, and I was waiting for him to pick the right time. I didn’t want to rush him.” She paused. “But yes, you’re right, and I am wrong. Simon hasn’t confided everything to me; I merely know and am waiting for him to tell me. John is a lovely boy, and I was just pleased to know that Simon is happy.”
Samantha narrowed her eyes slightly as she asked, “But why do you think that means he must have kept other secrets from me? Surely you of all people must know how difficult it is to come out?”
Dominic blushed briefly. “Everyone’s circumstances are different, of course, and for young people it really is much easier….”
“Oh nonsense! Can I just say that I think it’s a bit rich for you to judge Simon when you’re so secretive about yourself? We spent nearly three hours in the car together last night, and I still don’t know whether or not you have a boyfriend!” This time Dominic’s face turned crimson.
“Samantha, could we just get back to—”
“Well, do you?”
Dominic sighed. “I think it’s my turn to acknowledge that I am wrong. Yes, I do have a partner, and no, I am not very open about it. In this day and age, it probably is unnecessary for me to be quite so discreet. But after a while, it gets to be almost a habit.”
Samantha giggled. “Oh, Dominic, how delightfully bashful you are! I imagine that it’s rare you have a conversation like this with your clients.”
Dominic smiled. “Samantha, I can tell you truthfully that I have never had a conversation like this with my clients. You must meet Jonathan some time. I think you two would get on like a house on fire.”
Elizabeth: Love that little bit. Time to learn a bit more about David.
David C. Dawson is an author, award-winning journalist and documentary maker, living near Oxford in the UK.
He has travelled extensively, filming in nearly every continent of the world. He has lived in London, Geneva and San Francisco, but now prefers the tranquillity of the Oxfordshire countryside.
David is a Mathematics graduate from Southampton University in England. After graduating, he joined the BBC in London as a trainee journalist. He worked in radio newsrooms for several years before moving to television as a documentary director. During the growing AIDS crisis in the late eighties, he is proud to say that he directed the first demonstration of putting on a condom on British television.
After more than twenty years with the BBC, he left to go freelance. He has produced videos for several charities, including Ethiopiaid; which works to end poverty in Ethiopia, and Hestia; a London-based mental health charity.
David has one son, who is also a successful filmmaker.
In his spare time, David tours Europe on his ageing Triumph motorbike and sings with the London Gay Men’s Chorus. He has sung with the Chorus at St Paul’s Cathedral, The Roundhouse and the Royal Festival Hall, but David is most proud of the time they sang at the House of Lords, campaigning for equal marriage to be legalized in the UK.
Elizabeth: Please join us on November 22, 2016 when we’re joined by Kim Fielding. She’s bringing us some dark fantasy….oooohhhhh! Don’t forget to like our Facebook page, join our Facebook group, and check out our web page so you don’t miss a single minute of Genre Talk.
Every Tuesday on our Facebook group we give away free eBooks and who doesn’t love free books?
Until next time happy reading,