Our next WF author interview is with David Driver, aka Arthur G. Mustard. David joined the forum in August 2015 and is part of our Media Team. Thank you for joining us, David, a thoroughly enjoyable interview!
David, please tell us a little about yourself and your background.
Well hello there and thanks for having me. Arthur G. Mustard, that`s not my own name, my real name is David Driver. So where did this other name come from? Well, I`ve used it for a while now on various platforms, or when uploading videos to YouTube.
Anyway, I like names and I like to play around with them. Mustard was always going to stay, I love the name and Arthur reminded me of George Cole`s character in the classic TV series Minder; it`s also the name of the king of the roundtable! The “G” adds a little class and mystery.
Should an English gentleman tell of his age? Whoever said I was a gentleman? Next time the birthday cake is presented with a song, they`ll be 47 candles on it.
I live in the Yorkshire part of England and have done all my life. I`m happily married and we have two lovely daughters. Our home also houses, one dog, four cats, two guinea pigs and a bearded dragon!
I left school at 16 to start an apprenticeship in plumbing and my working background in within the plumbing, heating and gas fields. For the past nine years though, I`ve worked at the local college teaching these subjects, with a little Maths and English thrown in. College life is the complete opposite to what I expected, but I get some nice holidays and it pays the bills. I don`t think it`s going to get any better and I`m not prepared to say anymore.
Hobbies and interests include swimming, walking, working on the allotment and hen pen and also, with sporadic enthusiasm, delusions and hope, a bit of photography.
Reading influences and favourites include Robert E. Howard, Tolkien, Enid Blyton, Aldous Huxley and Edgar Allan Poe.
I reached a point at school where I lost interest as it became a daily bore filled with rules and regulations. But I always enjoyed English and writing stories, managing to hold on to my imagination. With the apprenticeship came a decline in writing, but I always had my creativity and sometimes wrote the stories in my head.
My wife, marriage, children and a whole new outlook on life finally brought the writing back. This has been a main part of my life for the past nine to ten years now.
I think that`s enough waffle here, but there may be more gory details down in the Author Bio.
If you were a castaway on a desert island and could choose five books to be a washed ashore with you, what would they be?
Five books for a desert island life? Mmm. Okay, here we go. In no particular order;
1. The Complete Chronicles of Conan, Robert E. Howard. One of my favourite authors and inspirations.
2. The Adventures of Pip, Enid Blyton. Brings back childhood memories and sparks wonderful imagination.
3. 3. A blank book with lines, so that I may continue to write. Ha, ha!
4. The Picture of Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde. I just love this book and can read it at any time.
5. The Hobbit. Tolkien. A classic which was first introduced to me in 1979 by a lovely man and my form teacher Mr Tillotson.
What was the inspiration behind the short stories in your latest book, The Weird, Wonderful, Unique and Unusual Lives of Everyday People?
My eldest daughter was working on an arts project down in Manchester based on the theme of life cycles and asked me to contribute something. After writing a short story the idea still appealed to me, so I ended up contributing two!
The theme of life and life cycles was still buzzing around in my head (it had me!) and I also had a few other ideas for a collection of short stories; so I “adapted them” to fit in to the theme. One of the stories is actually based on an old man I see every night whilst out walking the dog. He always wears a long coat, flat cap and has a collection of bags with him. I can say no more, you`ll have to read it.
Please can you share a short excerpt?
Only if you bake me a nice cake! Sorry, what was that? Yes…yes, sorry, I understand. Okay, you can have two.
Moonlight Couple (adult content)
There was no breeze, trees stood tall and proud and a full moon helped display a palette of magnificent autumnal colours. Nocturnal denizens came out to play and did not hide or flee when a young female danced and whistled along a path which brought her to a clearing in the woods.
A young man walked briskly towards the clearing from the opposite direction. He was singing the words to the tune the woman was whistling.
Both ran when they saw the other and embraced with laughter and kisses. Arousing each other, the couple stripped naked and made love several times in a wild, lustful manner. Breathing heavily, covered in sweat and leaves, they held hands and lay in silence.
Mouths dropped in wonder as they caught sight of the wondrous carpet of blood red roses before them. Pathways ran in all directions allowing them to walk further without suffering on the thorns. An army of jet black crows lined a wall to the left as if standing guard.
The old man who had collected the scribbling carried out the trolley woman helped by another. They laid her on the ground, still covered with the old sheet. Silence fell and all just stared at her.
After several minutes the female began to stir. Rising from her resting place, a hand pulled away the cover and she stood upright for all to see. She was magnificent in all her beauty.
Long, smooth hair tumbled down her back. Her lower torso was covered in a fabric that glistened in the light as she moved gracefully forward, resembling the same colour and texture of the feathers of the guarding crows. From the waist up she was naked; she looked beautiful. The tattoos still adorned her lithe midriff and almost looked alive. Her eyes shone a brilliant golden yellow and as she walked over the thorns with bare feet, no blood was drawn.
You've now written nine books - which is your favourite and why?
My favourite book (at the moment) would have to be All Things Bright and Beautiful. It`s a collection of three short stories, one of them been Sunflowers for Laura. This is one of my earliest pieces and my wife`s favourite, who has supported me throughout. It also made my sister in law cry and this was when I understood and realised the emotions writing can stir within the reader.
What genre are your books?
Some of my books are for young children, so that one`s easy. My other offerings? They probably fall in to, or in-between, the genres of fantasy, sci-fi, horror or maybe a little touch of the supernatural.
Is there a genre you would not attempt to write and if so what?
I think I`d stay away from writing a cook book. There are already too many cooks cluttering up the shelves of the top 100 at WH Smiths and I wouldn`t want to invade their turf.
Did you follow the traditional publishing route or did you self publish?
I followed the traditional publishing route and collected a nice pile of letters, so with that in mind, I self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing (ebooks).
If self-published what problems did you encounter and how did you overcome them?
I didn`t encounter any real problems. It was just a case of opening up an amazon account, reading through the types of format used and getting used to the uploading process. I think one of the downsides of publishing in this format is that no matter how hard you try, you always spot something not quite right with the way the paragraphs or lines have been formatted within the ebook. But at least it`s fairly easy to edit and can be done at any time.
I suppose another down side is advertising, promoting your work, getting your voice heard. You`re on your own and have to “do it all by yourself”. But then who never liked a challenge?
What is your view on authors using social media to market their books?
I think all social media is a fantastic tool for any author. You need to get out there and let people know you`re here, let them hear your “voice”. It`s a case of “What works for you?” Some readers will want to connect with you via a website or Facebook, others will love to read your blog and be an avid follower of Twitter. And just think, if you hit the “big time” you`ll be able to use the mighty media power of radio, TV or even films!
Which social media platforms do you use?
I have my author page on amazon and also use Facebook (with mixed results) and an open group called RedHeadBooks.
Every year I swear blind that I will set up a webpage/website and also blog or twitter.
My short “films” can be found under the name of Arthur G. Mustard on YouTube
What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?
Keep reading, keep writing and keep believing in yourself. Don`t give up, let others read your work, take onboard good constructive criticism and never lose your imagination. Never let your voice or imagination be silenced. If someone doesn`t like the way you write, that`s fine, move on and you`ll find your niche in the market. If someone tells you that they could be better, right, let them get on with it.
Do you outline a plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I tend to use both if I`m been honest. With most of my short stories, I already have the story in my head and just need to get it on to the page, so I go with the flow. With longer pieces, or if an idea isn`t developing, I generally jot down the basic storyline, characters, any twists and the ending. Then I`ll think out loud and scribble in between the sub headings. If an idea begins to stop and start and doesn`t open up and come to life, then I`ll leave it alone and maybe come back to it later as I like to keep the creativity alive.
How do you develop your characters? Do you have any tips for breathing life into them?
I think I would have to say that most of my characters are either good or bad, which runs with most of my storylines. It can be difficult to develop too many main characters in one story, so I would normally stick with three. Others characters would be secondary. What I call “guest characters” can be fun to use. These are characters that only make a brief appearance but play either; a pivotal role, have some cool dialogue or just do something that the readers love. This type of character can keep popping up or maybe, if the feedback is great, can have a book of their own.
I also think that characters should have human qualities that readers can relate to, so maybe writers could draw upon people they actually know. Also give them good dialogue along with believable and page turning action.
If a character is bad/evil, then really go overboard. Everyone loves a good villain.
Do you have a routine for your writing or does it happen sporadically?
I try to keep to a routine and manage to write a little each day; this can range from a few notes to many pages. My writing has to revolve around work and family, so depending on my commitments, I always manage two half days per week for “the serious writing” This is done in the office. It`s really one of the bedrooms which I have taken over. My wife and I have an agreement that certain things can be stored in “the office” along with clothes waiting to be ironed!
A little book goes everywhere with me and contains scribbling`s only I understand. This is the brainchild of all my offerings and if falling in to the wrong hands may result in a padded cell and straight jacket, as there`s a lot of weird stuff in there.
My old faithful Notebook has produced some of my best work and is now seven years old. Bought by my wife, it`s held together with tape and glue and is not connected to the internet. Old faithful is well travelled and often sits on my lap whilst I watch telly with the family so as to avoid been accused of “taking myself off” or “been in the office again”.
I am currently trying out a Samsung Tablet, but am not a big fan of having no “real” keyboard.
Do personal experiences play a role in your writing, or is everything that happens in your stories the result of pure imagination?
It`s going to have to be the result of pure imagination with only a small amount of personal experience.
Regarding the first page, how do you go about crafting an opening that will ensure the reader continues to page two?
Probably four approaches might do the trick.
1. Quick paced action.
2. Dialogue with suggestion or questions without the answers.
3. The mention of a character or place with an interesting name that the reader longs to know more about.
4. Two stories running simultaneously.
What are you working on now?
I`m working on a supernatural horror titled Bridge 194. Everything is written, but only inside my head. I`m about five chapters in, here`s a sneaky peek.
Bridge 194 (adult content)
Not more than thirty feet away from the barge, a man in his forties sat slumped against a tree. A blood stained finger prodded his cheek several times, his head was turned from side to side and his eyes were glared in to for nearly a minute just in case they blinked. No, he was definitely dead.
His heart was cut out and delicately licked; it tasted delicious, sending all senses wild, pure orgasmic. The vital organ was slowly eaten, allowing every morsel to be savoured. Fingers and lips were licked before the killer carefully produced a red rose from inside a bag along with a Bible.
The flower was placed inside the victim`s mouth and the Bible was opened at GENESIS 9:5-6
And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image.”
Are there any particular writing exercises you do during your free time to help keep a steady creative flow?
I don`t really do writing exercises. I think with reading books and magazines, along with my own writing schedule, that`s enough for me and is more than enough to keep the creativity flowing. This is coupled with family time, walking, swimming and enjoying life and I believe they complement and balance each other.
Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers?
Indeed. Christmas is ever nearer, life gets harder and it would make a change to turn on the central heating, taste fresh turkey instead of boiled up bones `n` bread and buy a bauble for the tree. So if you could access the internet via amazon and look me up, you know what to buy yourself, family and friends, they`re good reads. No excuses, if you can`t read here`s a little tip, learn.
And finally, this is for my only fan way down in Clacton on Sea. Ethel Saddlebridge. Thank you for the purchase of one of my books @99p. Now if you could find a way to send me a 1p, maybe I could call in at the Pound Store and actually buy something with my hard earned royalties. Merry Christmas Ethel!
Where and in which formats are your books available?
All my books are available via Amazon as ebooks, although I am working on getting some of them in to actual print for next year.
Well hello there and thanks for having me. Arthur G. Mustard, that`s not my own name, my real name is David Driver. So where did this other name come from? Well, I`ve used it for a while now, on YouTube, when uploading videos I`ve made. There`re quite straight forward and tell a story. Check them out if you like.
Anyway, I like names and I like to play around with them. Mustard was always going to stay, I love the name and Arthur, reminded me of George Cole`s character in the classic TV series Minder; it`s also the name of the king of the roundtable! The “G” adds a little class and mystery.
Should an English gentleman tell of his age? Who ever said I was a gentleman? Next time the birthday cake is presented with a song, they`ll be 47 candles on it. I live in the Yorkshire part of England and have done all my life.
My father was an electrician and my mother worked in insurance, I also have two brothers. At school I was fairly easy going, playing rugby, taking part in the cross country running and a little swimming. I think I`ve always had a good imagination, I don`t know where it comes from, it just there. English was my favourite subject. I enjoyed school up to a certain point and then switched off. It became boring, no fun, all rules and regulations. With that attitude I left at sixteen with a plumbing apprenticeship.
Up to this point early reading had been Enid Blyton, The Adventures of Pip, Henry Hollins and the Dinosaur and I loved Robert E. Howard and the Conan series. Howard has been the biggest influence on me and I found him by pure chance. Christmas, 1980/1981 and my eldest brother had been bought a book, Conan the Wanderer. He didn`t like it from the start, but I loved the cover and so we had a swap; can`t remember what though! After that I was hooked.
I can remember visiting my Uncle`s house one Sunday, it would have been 1982. At that time he was in to videos in a big way and asked if we wanted to watch Arnie`s, Conan the Barbarian. My dad wasn`t one for watching films and I thought we have to go as it was school in the morning. But he said yes and I sat completely mesmerised all the way through.
Back to the plumbing thing, it was a job and I was earning money. I had mixed emotions at first and nearly gave up. Battling on, I ended up been self-employed and did quite well. Over the years I set up three businesses.
As time takes its toll the phone calls become too much; there`s always a leak, a blocked WC or a boiler not working at Christmas. So when an opportunity presented itself at the college I accepted. I still deal with leeks, but not leaks! We have an allotment and grow them not repair them.
Over the years I`ve had plenty of ups and downs with a touch of hard knocks. But what`s new? So have plenty of other people. I`ve worked for both good and bad companies, set up several businesses; living like a king one week and begging like a pauper the next. In 2013 we all took a very hard knock with the sudden loss of our wonderful and beautiful mum. It`s sometimes hard to talk or think about her. But life`s about moving forward and not getting stuck. It doesn`t matter about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. It`s a case of, what are you doing now? So always move forward, talk to people if you`re not happy with the things that are going on in your life and hopefully you`ll sort them. And with regard to work, if you get out of bed in a morning, go do the job you`re paid to do and you ain't happy, then it`s time to walk away.
***********If you have any further questions for David, please post them in comments below.