Dan is the winner of the latest Riptide Journal short story competition, and was highly commended in the Manchester Writing School competition 2018. Other competition shortlists include Flash500, Sunderland University/Waterstones, To Hull and Back, Wimbledon BookFest, Fish, Dorset Writers Award and Retreat West. He has words in places like Ellipsis, Reflex Fiction, Cabinet of Heed, Bending Genres, The Esthetic Apostle, Spelk, Ginger Collect and Fiction Pool. His first collection of short stories, Hotel du Jack, will be published early 2020. He is also co-author of a comic novel, Kitten on a Fatberg, now available to pre-order at Unbound (Quote Kitten10).
We caught up with him to find out what inspired his hugely memorable ‘The Virtual Writer’, published in issue 5 of Lucent Dreaming.
So, what inspired your piece ‘The Virtual Writer’ and how did it find its way to Lucent Dreaming?
The story is a bit of affectionate mockery aimed at myself and a few friends who, for years and years, sat around talking about the books we were going to write but never actually got down to writing anything! It’s also a sort of homage to life’s dreamers – those people who cling on to their dreams, even if they never actually manage to realise them. The story was picked up by Matt when I entered one of your competitions. It didn’t quite fit the theme of the comp, but Matt saw something in it and offered it a place in LD!
What does writing and art mean to you?
Writing is my passion. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. I just love the whole process. I’ve always loved reading – the feeling of being taken up into the world of another imagination. The writing dream is an extension of that – wanting to try and create some of those worlds as well as live in them.
What are you most excited about right now and what writing/creative projects are you currently working on?
After years of writing nothing, I now have two books coming out hopefully next year. My debut short story collection, Hotel Du Jack, is published by Sandstone Press on Jan 23, 2020. It’s a compilation of some of the stories I’ve been writing over the past five years and is very special to me.
I’m also very excited about Kitten on a Fatberg, a comic novel-in-emails about a bonkers writers group. I wrote it with two pals from my real-life writing group and it’s currently crowdfunding on Unbound. We hope to have it in production in 2-3 months.
Beyond those, I have a new novel I’m working on, The Wolf in the Woods, and am putting together more stories for a new collection. Now that I’m finally writing, I feel there is no time left to waste…
Tell us about some of your favourite books or art you’ve experienced – of all time or more recently. Why are they favourites?
My favourite novel is probably Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry. It’s a book that’s drunk on language (among other things) and that just completely sweeps you up in its world. A Preparation for Death by Greg Baxter is a wild memoir that also looks at the issue of failing to get down to the writing. And I’ve been working my way through the books of Barbara Ehrenreich, a fiercely intelligent and compassionate commentator on the role of women and a range of social issues.
What advice would you give those who want to do what you do?
Have children! You’ll never have enough time to write after that. It’s when you don’t feel you have enough time that you really start to value it and use what little you have to do the things you really want to do.