Thanet Writers Question David Grimstone
My name’s Davey Stone. I’m married with two children, I’ve lived in Ramsgate all my life and I’ve been a professional author since 1998. I’ve written books for Disney and Penguin in the USA, Hodder in the UK, Sony in Japan and for another twenty or so major publishing houses around the world.
It began with Terry Pratchett, who was always encouraging me to find my own voice because the major publishers were always telling my agent that I was far too much like him! Terry encouraged me from a young age and basically told me—at the point where I was going to give up and throw in the towel—that I needed to take rejection on the chin if I was going to make it. This advice helped me to sell my first short story and place it, ironically, right beside him in the international anthology Knights of Madness. It was published in the UK by Souvenir and Orbit and in the USA by Penguin. The book also featured Woody Allen and Tom Sharpe, so I was in such great company that I ended up attracting the attention of the best agents in the business. I was very lucky.
Terry was a huge influence on me, but I have also lived inside the books and short stories of Michael Marshall Smith, Rob Grant and Doug Naylor, Iain M. Banks and—more recently—Patrick Rothfuss. Every great writer I read makes some sort of impression on me and mutates my work slightly. To be honest, we’re all the sum of the writers we’ve read mixed together with a tiny helping of our own drives and experiences.
These days, I have to be threatened and cajoled to write anything. I’m far happier being a full-time daddy and running the family business. I usually write a new project only when I have an idea that I’m excited enough about to pitch to my editors or when they come to me specifically because they think there’s a project coming up that they think fits my voice.
They used to be ridiculous: I would lock myself up in a hotel and just write until the book was done. My agents at the time, Ed Victor Ltd., used to employ this as a punishment in order to get the late, great Douglas Adams to meet a deadline…and what was good enough for Douglas was good enough for me.
My children and their love of books. When they find a story they love, they just completely fall into it. I really envy them that level of immersion: you seem to lose that as you grow into an adult.
Depression. I have fought it for most of my adult life and when the beast comes upon me (ever more frequently, these days) I struggle to focus on anything but my children. I also have a cyclic and very addictive personality, which makes things like exercise and reading a lot more appealing than the actual process of writing!
I’m proud of a lot, to be honest. My books have sold over a million copies and have been translated into so many languages that I’ve actually lost count. The translations take up all the bookshelves in my lounge and I am fiercely proud that I left St. George’s School with a handful of low-grade GCSEs but still managed to knock Dr. Who off the number 1 spot on the bestseller lists with Undead Ed two days after Matt Smith made his debut. I never shut up about it—or about the fact that they’d prepared the poster for the BBC to take the win! I’m also proud to have served on the judging panel for this year’s World Horror Award (the Bram Stoker), to have been Disney’s Guest of Honour at the 2004 Book Expo in Chicago and to have performed twice at the Edinburgh Festival and once at Hay. These are huge deals for me, as I really struggle with people, even in small groups.
Never give up. Always believe in yourself and your own creative voice. Listen to every piece of criticism and try to judge it fairly. Exhaust every professional avenue before you take the self-publishing route: there really is no substitution for professional publishing and if your work is good enough, you will make it.
It’s top secret, sadly. At the beginning of the year at a meeting with Hodder in London, I had one of those time-sensitive ideas that publishers tend to get very excited about. It was a spur of the moment thing mentioned over lunch and I actually started writing it on a napkin in the restaurant: I’m just waiting to find out whether we missed the window or not. Fingers crossed!
I don’t really write, these days. When I’m not looking after my smurfs or working in the family business at Hoobynoo, I spend a lot of time in coffee shops, helping other writers try to get to market or just exercising my own demons and attempting to be sociable. I’m much better at counselling people on a one-to-one basis about the publishing market-place than I am at giving any number of aimless talks, lectures or opinions on the state of the trade!
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© 2017 David Grimstone
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David Grimstone (David Lee Stone) from Ramsgate is a bestselling author of series fiction for Disney USA, Penguin USA and Hodder UK.