Interview with DJ Priddle
DJ Priddle’s debut novel ‘The Honey Trap’ is being published by Percy Publishing. It is out on Kindle from Monday 1st September 2014 with the paperback being released on 19th September 2014. DJ Priddle kindly took the time to answer some questions for me.
Tell me a bit about your book ‘The Honey Trap’.
The Honey Trap is a story about a ‘bad’ cop, Jonas Brock, who used to work in the Metropolitan Police Force. He has made some pretty bad decisions and ended up in prison. The story focuses on his life, and his attempts to rebuild his broken relationships, but unfortunately for him, he is not very good at it. He is selfish and broken by his own past, and continues to hurt all of the people that he cares for the most. Jonas takes on some private investigator work, but is soon out of his depth with an enormous fraud case and unexplained murder.
How long did it take you to write it?
I did a lot of reading and learning before I sat down to write the book. I looked at a lot of advice pages and blogs to try to learn the process, and one quote that stuck in my mind throughout, was from Stephen King. He said, “If you haven’t finished it in three months then it’s not worth keeping.” I used this as my own rule and kept to his guidelines. I built the story in my mind for the first month and then got it down on paper in the second month. It is at this point when the real writing starts, because most people will find that the first draft is terrible. Only a small handful of people will have the perfect first draft, but for most of us, it is just a written barrage of nonsensical ideas. I edited for the third month, crossing things out and screwing up whole pages of drivel, before only keeping what works. It is very difficult to know when to stop editing, it is easy to become hyper critical of your own work, so I listened to a quote from Leonardo Da Vinci and it became my mantra, “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
Did you have to do any research?
Yes. Lots. ‘The Honey Trap’ is about things that I knew nothing about. While the story line (I hope) is about human interaction and relationships, the setting was new to me. I am a huge fan of British TV police dramas and wanted to explore those dark ideas. As I began to build Jonas Brock’s back-story, I decided that to know as much about him as possible, I would write short biographies of each of his close family. In each case, I researched the historical details of their lives, such as his mother’s role as a female in the MET throughout the sixties and seventies, and also the closure of the London cargo docks. Although very little of this research appeared in the book, I found that it gave me a far better insight into the environment that Jonas was part of.
I also enlisted the help of a friend, who works in the police force, to ensure that the procedural information was correct.
Did you always want to write?
It was not that always wanted to write, I just did. Since I was young, I’ve always enjoyed creative writing. Throughout school I wrote short stories and enjoyed studying English Literature and the Greek Classics. I had two English teachers at high school who were a huge inspiration to me, and their passion for the classic writings of Sophocles, Homer, Harper Lee and Shakespeare meant that I really engaged with them. I remember closing my eyes as they would read the books aloud to the class, and letting the ideas and images fill my brain. I was inspired by the way that the characters interacted with each other. The main storyline always felt merely like a top layer of a much more complex idea, to me, and that is what I wished to create in my own writing. As I got older, I continued to write, but never completed anything. I realised that I did not know how to write a story, to the end. I did not have the focus or the attention span to see it through. So, I had to retrain my brain and learn the craft of ‘long-distance’ writing.
Are you working on any other writing projects?
I am currently working on the follow up second and third book of the series. After finishing ‘The Honey Trap’ I realised that I had only really finished the very beginning of the story. The story is bigger than I had originally planned, and Jonas has a long way to go before his own journey is complete. I began planning the second book, ‘Blood Runs Deep,’ at the end of June this year, but as I was planning, I soon found that book two and three were so closely intertwined, that they would have to be written together. It has become a very complex story, with a great deal more characters to introduce, and I think that the only way to stay true to the original idea is to write them both, and then split them into two books.
What advice do you have for anyone wishing to write their first novel?
My advice would probably go on for pages and pages, but I will try to be brief.
- Learn how to write. By this I mean, don’t assume that the idea in your head will spill out onto the pages fully formed. This is rarely the case. The mind is a collection of ideas and images, connected by the thinnest and delicate threads. On paper, these ideas are less than appealing to a reader. Take the time to learn the process. There is now so much information out there from authors, teachers and editors. Trawl the Internet and you can find help groups and lessons on how other people have gone about it. I read the ‘Dramatica Theory of Story Structure,’ an idea that the story has its own mind and personality predetermined by the storytelling, and tried to implement some of its ideas into my own writing. Read anything on the Internet called, ‘How to write a novel,’ or similar and learn whatever you can.
- Plan! Plan! Plan! The more time that you dedicate to planning your book the better you will understand it. If you don’t know the story, how can you ever expect to narrate it to your reader? Readers are as fickle as you are, and they will quickly see through a writer who is ‘making it up as they go along.’ So, you have to believe what you are writing. Know your backdrop, understand your story and feel your characters. Laugh with them, get angry with them and cry with them. It will make the story more believable for your reader.
- Probably the most important advice of all is, Write. Nobody wrote a novel by staring at a computer screen. It is true that everyone has a novel inside them, but what is the main difference between them and an author? The author actually finished it.
So, sit and tap away at the keyboard, and give yourself permission to be exceptionally bad at it. Write rubbish, use terrible grammar, make spelling mistakes and lose your storyline to go on a worthless tangent, but do not stop, until its finished. Then, and only then, edit. Writing and editing are different processes; do not confuse them as one. When you write, you do just that. No sooner than the idea is formed in your mind, it is shot out of your fingertips and onto the page. Editing is a slow and analytical process, and in my opinion, where the real storytelling happens. Each sentence is taken apart, one word at a time, and reconstructed to flow and to entice the reader to read on. Write hot, edit cold. Write freely without censoring yourself in any way. Allow those creative ideas to rush out of your psyche, and hopefully you will create something wonderful. Edit as if it is the worst story that you have ever read. Be harsh, show no mercy and do not spare your feelings. Sometimes in an edit, you will have to get rid of ideas that you have come to care about. You will kill off characters, lose whole scenes of amazing creativity, and sometimes you will be sad to see them go. However, if it does not move the narrative forward, then you need to get rid of it. Be prepared to kill those ideas. Do not get precious about them. What you have at the end could be the greatest work of fiction that the world has ever seen, it probably is not, but that ‘maybe’ is hope enough for any author.
What do you like doing in your spare time?
I’m the lead singer of a rock band. No really, I am. My wife and I run a wedding and function band, and I’m the front man. I travel the country in an old transit van and perform on stage. When I am not doing that, I write press releases for an independent PR company and I present a show on local radio. I live with my wife and three daughters, which mean that my spare time is filled very quickly with DIY, day’s out and dad duties. If after all of that, I have any time left, I might watch a film.
About DJ Priddle
DJ Priddle has worked as a professional musician and actor since leaving school and drawing from his experiences from performing. As well as filming with BBC and ITV, he has always been a keen writer of lyrics, scripts and short stories, and now his love of crime thrillers and dark fantasy novels has helped him to pursue his own professional writing career.
Now he performs weekly in a top UK function band as well as presenting on local radio, while working as a full time writer.
He lives on the Isle of Wight with his wife and three young daughters.
‘The Honey Trap’ will be available to buy on Amazon and can currently be pre-ordered:-