Author’s Spotlight: David-Jack Fletcher Interview

David-Jack Fletcher, author of The Haunting of Harry Peck

1. First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?

My name is David-Jack Fletcher, I’m from a small town in New South Wales, Australia, called Maitland.

2. Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?

The Haunting of Harry Peck is a horror-comedy novella centred around a made-up history of animal hauntings. It’s not my first published book, however it is the first fictional book. My PhD was published in March 2021.

3. Tell us a bit about your main character; what are they like, how did they come about, and what are some of their strengths and weaknesses?

My main character is Harry Peck. He’s a nice guy, though he is a bit of a scaredy-cat. Harry is gentle and tries to do the right thing by others, which can sometimes land him in hot water. In a way, Harry is a reflection of my younger self: the naïve do-gooder that wears his heart on his sleeve.

4. What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?

There were a few tricky scenes to write for this book. Mostly the action scenes, where Harry is being attacked by the chicken. Making sure the action flowed and felt like it was happening in real time was important for me, and I’m not totally convinced I was successful with that! There’s a scene where Harry and Vegan Shaman are experiencing a haunting event similar to the bedroom scene in Poltergeist (Hooper, 1982). There’s heavy wind and all his furniture is getting blown around in a vortex in Harry’s apartment while the two characters are trying to get to the kitchen to find lemons… it’ll make sense when you read it, haha. There was a lot happening and it was difficult to get that sense of excitement and urgency into the scene

5. Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?

I knew for this book that I would never go the traditional publishing route. Firstly, it’s a novella and secondly, it’s horror. Mainstream publishers in Australia don’t really touch either, as far as my research showed. I think there are one or two, but they also preference people with literary agents, which I don’t have. A friend of mine runs an indie publishing house near where I live, and I’m really passionate about the indie horror community. So I wanted to publish there.

6. What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?

For me, the most difficult part of the journey has been giving up my career. I choose to do that, but it was still a difficult thing to do. The job I was in started to feel a bit soul-sucking and was emotionally and psychologically draining. My husband encouraged me to leave the job and take up writing, because it’s really the only thing that has ever made me happy. I’ve also started an editing business here in Australia called Chainsaw Editing. If I can give advice to anyone wanting to become an author, it would be the cliched, ‘Don’t give up’. If you are truly passionate about something, then go for it. Don’t let the world stop you and don’t get in your own way. There are always risks and fears, but giving into them is the real horror — be brave and do what you love.

7. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?

I have several book ideas in the pipeline. I’ve started on three of them, almost finished one, and I can say that they are all very different to one another. In the case of Harry Peck, though, it is intended to be a trilogy where we follow Harry’s journey into unravelling his family curse and discovering an ancient cult directly related to him.

8. What are some of your favourite authors and books and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

I would say my favourite horror authors include Dean Koontz (particularly his novel The Taking (2004), which was the first book I ever read in one sitting), and Jack Ketchum. My other favourite authors are Simon Kernick and Chris Mooney. They aren’t horror, but they sure as hell do some gripping novels. Dark thrillers and fast-paced action. Kernick’s novels are go-to’s for me when I am having trouble with action scenes. He has such a beautiful way of getting things to flow, I wish I could do that! Nothing really inspired me to become a writer. To be honest, I have always ‘felt’ like one. There’s been no other choice, really. As a kid I was always rewriting film endings because I was disappointed with how they finished up. Or reimagining stories like Little Red Riding Hood. Eventually I started writing original work and it felt like the most natural thing in the world.

9. What would you say has been the best way to market your books?

Well, this book only came out two weeks ago, so I am still navigating the marketing of it. I’ve found a lot of bookstagrammers are incredibly generous with their time and several have done, or are doing, reviews for Amazon and Goodreads, etc. I’m so grateful for the many lovers of horror that are out there and that love to support the indie community.

10. Are there any tropes, clichés, or writing styles that you dislike and, if so, what are they and why?

I don’t want to discredit any particular writing style. Writing is such a personal thing and I know I’d be devastated if someone said they didn’t like my style without being able to explain why. So when I read a book, I try to put aside my own thoughts on how the book should be written etc. and just enjoy it for what it is. I’ve found I’ve learned a few things along the way by being as objective as possible and appreciating the book for the story. Having said that, one thing that does bother me is that old ‘the butler did it’ trope. Endings that are too obvious make me think the author needed to sit on the book for a bit longer and work through the story to make a better ending. I’m sure I’ve done this, too, so I really can’t complain!

11. Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?

I have one review so far and it was 5-stars, so I can’t say I was sad about it haha. I do think taking feedback is critical in life, and for authors or anyone putting personal work into the public domain, we need to be able to shut out the negative reviews that aren’t productive or insightful. If someone writes “I hated it” or “Bored me to death”, that’s fine. Don’t pay attention to those ones. The idea for me is to pay attention to the lower rated reviews when they are insightful and can possibly help me improve my craft as an author.

12. What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?

Quirks, you ask? I’m not really sure, to be honest. I’m what my writing group called a ‘pantser’, flying by the seat of my pants. I have a general idea of the story and certain scenes I know are definitely going to happen. Usually the ending is plotted, but the rest is mostly by feel. I did plan a short story once and after I laid it all out in dot points, I never revisited it. The magic, for me, was gone. I don’t really have any habits while I’m writing, but one thing I tend to do when struggling with a certain plot point is to just sit there and scroll up and down in the document. Eventually something will jump out at me and I’m good to go. It can take days, though… One quirk, I guess, is that I like to name my characters are famous horror figures or serial killers. In Harry Peck, for instance, I have a minor character named Charlie Mansen. And a story I’m working on right now has a Mrs. Wuornos. I like to do little love notes to the darker side of history and I’m not quite sure what that says about me! Sometimes I will put music on. I have favourite bands that I always go to, including Starset, Nothing But Thieves, Daughtry, 30 Seconds to Mars. That sort of stuff. But I have also been known to listen to a bit of Miley Cyrus and Little Mix, which I am not embarrassed about!

13. What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?

Chuck Palahniuk wrote a book about writing, which I found incredibly useful. His was a practical guide to solving problems we might face as authors. One piece of advice in that book was ‘if you have a gun, you have to make it fire’. Basically, plant a seed early on that can help with a twist at the end, or some sort of climax. It’s been really helpful in my approach to writing. Advice to new writers? Don’t worry if you get a rejection. It always hurts, but all it really means is that your story/book wasn’t a right fit for that outlet. It doesn’t mean anything about the quality of the manuscript or your potential as an author. Keep shopping around and never give up.

14. What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?

What’s next for me is my debut fiction novel. It’s called Raven’s Creek and I describe it to people the love child of The Island of Dr Moreau (Wells, 1896) and Cabin in the Woods (Goddard, 2011). I’m really excited about it and I’m looking at specific publishers for this one, as it’s a creature feature. I’m also working on a short story about a school mascot slowly turning into a child-eating demon. A very wholesome tale for people of all ages, haha.

15. Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:

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