Tell us about yourself and how many books you have written.
I write for a living, but not fiction – I’m in business so most of my writing is blog posts, press releases, annual reports and the like. I write fiction mostly just to exercise another part of my writing. I think it’s helpful, and it’s fun. I guess I’ve written about five or six books, but Badly Cut Up is the first one I’ve published. The very first was when I was about 18 or 19 and it was a terrible Bret Easton Ellis rip off called Richmond Beach. The only other fiction I’ve published was a short story in an anthology called Mafia.
What is the name of your latest book and what inspired it?
Badly Cut Up. It was ‘born’ from a very particular set of influences in my life.
In the mid-1990s I spent a summer living in the Central District (CD) in Seattle, and it was a ‘hot’ summer as they say. Gunshots were often heard in the night and what I thought was a bum sleeping it off as I headed out one morning was surrounded by yellow tape and turned out to be a murder before I headed home that night. (It’s a largely gentrified neighborhood now, for better or worse, so don’t be afraid to walk there in 2018). I saw a lot of drug dealing, some street fights, and businesses that made you wonder if they were really all they seemed. Years later, living in Tottenham, in London, I was reminded of that thought by a garage next to our flat that seemed to be a hotbed for off the books activities (and more than a few late night shenanigans).
It was not my first ‘bad neighborhood.’ A body had been found in a dumpster outside the apartment I was living in the previous summer, off Colfax Ave in Denver. All of that seemed like it should, somehow, be a book. Not the stories of me and my friends, but the sense impressions those places left.
Do you have any unusual writing habits?
When I write for work, none at all. I show up at my desk and write what needs to be written. For fun I guess the main thing is that I do pretty much the opposite – I write on planes, the tube, in bed before going to sleep… just where ever I can fit in another few hundred words.
What authors, or books have influenced you?
We should start with Donald Westlake aka Richard Stark. The first version of Badly Cut Up was going to turn out to be something like The Hunter, with Ash as a more knocked about version of Parker; but coming back to the idea later that had worn off me. I preferred an Ash who was less an actor in the resolution of a mystery than a pinball in a machine he has no view of. In the end it is the supporting characters who provide the impetus that takes Ash to his fatal rendezvous in the shadows of an abandoned shopping mall (based on a place that was not quite dead when I hiked out to it along the freeway in the early 90s, but surely must have been by the time Ash wound up there four or five years later). The way I see the book now is a sort of urban cross over between Dante’s Inferno and Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, by way of Andrew Vachss’ early novels.
And it is Vachss to whom I owe the biggest debt here (despite of course owing something to Richard Stark, Max Allan Collins, Lawrence Block and others). Vachss’ novels are about ethics first of course, especially the protection of the innocent, but not far after that they are about family. I was fascinated by that and although Ash doesn’t realize it, he has a kind of family too, without whom he would probably die in the first few chapters.
What are you working on now?
I’m editing a spy novel, which I’m in two minds about self publishing, and working on a sequel to Badly Cut Up.
What is your best method or website when it comes to promoting your books?
www.dcharold.com; and @readdcharold on Twitter.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Just write. Don’t feel you have to bring your a-game to the first draft. Books are made in the edit.
What is the best advice you have ever heard?
“Don’t wait to feel inspired. Inspiration comes while you are doing the work.”
What are you reading now?
Night School by Lee Child. I just finished The Midnight Line also by him.
What’s next for you as a writer?
A sequel to Badly Cut Up that explores where Victory came from and the developing relationship between Vye and Ash.
If you were going to be stranded on a desert island and allowed to take 3 or 4 books with you what books would you bring?
Neuromancer by William Gibson. Gardens of the Moon by Steven Erikson. Casino Royale by Ian Fleming and, this is a bit of a cheat, The Complete Short Stories of JG Ballard