03 Dec 2013

David Chattaway: Singing Sands

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Today I present to you a very treasured and chance find of mine from Goodreads.



“Singing Sand” by David Chattaway is a very impressive debut novel about Jamal, the adopted son of the Nelson family. With a scaring family background of his own and traumatic experiences from his times at an orphanage / half way house Jamal is by no means an easy character. add to that the hate his step sister Mary has for him and you have the promising premise for a powerful read and that is long before the story really begins.
The entire Nelson family go on a camping trip together and soon they find themselves in a very unexpected yet life threatening situation that brings their strength as a unit to the test.
Interspersed with flashbacks to Jamal’s past the narrative moves very fast and makes for a rather compelling page turner of a book. This is a well written action packed thriller with some great psychological insight in to the minds of the characters. It is also a great family story that defines the terms of family ties and human bonds, there is a thoughtful and pleasing message embedded in all of this. To quote from the book: Jamal has been dealt a very tough hand but he will not give up and not make anyone suffer. A great leading character, supported by several others. It is amazing how easily and yet thoroughly Chattaway has established his cast. This is very good

Interview with David:

Tell us a little about yourself as writer and a person.

 I’m a very happy person with plenty of hobbies and passions. I have been writing for years, however it wasn’t until 2011 when I started on a story idea named “Malakh” that I really caught the writing bug. I also met a fellow author at work he had released his first novel. When he explained the process of getting his work published and available for people to read I set to the task of completing some of my unfinished stories. 

What made you become a writer? Have you always written?

It probably started when I was a child, my dad would tell me bedtime stories each night to send me off to sleep. He would come up with these intricate, involved worlds and characters and transport me there. He was incredible at painting such a vivid picture in my young mind. I wrote plenty of short stories throughout primary and high school, however I would start them but never actually finish. I think completing “Singing Sand” definitely helped me to realise what it takes to not just write, but properly complete a book. 

Were you always going to write a thriller? What is your connection to the genre?

I actually completed the draft of “Malakh” (book 1 in a fantasy trilogy) but I knew that it would take quite a lot of time to polish that book so I decided to tackle something smaller but different to what I would typically do. I love movies and Thrillers are one of my favourite genres. To be honest I don’t read any thrillers and that was part of the reason I set out to complete one. I also wanted to tackle a few moving pieces at the same time. I thought, what if the main character had experienced substantial loss, what if he was from a different background to his new family. What if the family hadn’t welcomed him fully. I guess I came up with framework of the characters in the story before I thought of the situation they might find themselves in, the thriller/suspense aspect of the book if you like. I’m not sure if this is a common process for authors of the genre, but it worked well for me.

What made you chose an orphan as hero?

 I’ve led a privileged life and thankfully had a wonderful family to support me throughout it. I think the reason for having the main character be an orphan was really because I wanted to tell a story of a persons evolution. It’s challenging to condense something so large into a short Novella but I felt that a character who had lost so much and knew that he could have done so much more to help the people he had lost would allow the reader to both be sad for his situation, but also celebrate his evolution into the person he inevitably becomes. 

Tell us a little about the history of the book. How long did it take you to write and publish?

 The original draft of the book took me around 20 hours to write, over a period of 4 weeks. There was then around 10 hours of rewriting and adding further changes based on my own observations and my friends/families. After that I spent around 15 hours editing the book and polishing it into a final draft to send to my editor. Once I received the book back I spent a further 5 hours over 2 days marking up suggested changes and finally reading the finished product for the 4th time. I then uploaded the book using createspace and it was available for sale on the 20th of October 2013. I commenced writing the story in June so in total the book took me 4 months to take it from an idea to something available to purchase.

Why did you decide to tell this story?

 I wanted to write a thriller based in Chicago, Illinois. After that the book wrote itself. I created the character of Jamal Lewis, before I had the entire story mapped out. It became a scenario where I knew that Jamal’s story needed to be told, the rest story was really a vessel to do so. I actually planned a very different story for Jamal, but I felt that the character needed to be established, his pain and loss captured and felt. I’m working on the original story now, which will be this books sequel. 

Which part of the story was easiest to write and which one the hardest?

The easiest was Jamal’s backstory in the halfway house. I found it very easy to imagine that place and the people in it. I also found the relationship between Jamal and Daniel to be very natural and the words just flowed out of me and onto the screen. The hardest part was really depicting the families reaction to the things that happen to Mary. How a young girl would react, talk and how her mother would etc… was difficult. I looked to my wife throughout the middle of the book for insights and ideas. She helped me to understand Mary, finding a place for her within Jamal’s story.

What would you say your message is? Do you find it is well received and picked up by the reviewers?

That’s a tough question, I don’t think I really ever set out to have a message. It’s interesting when you get feedback and thoughts from people on your book. People have picked out parts in the story that they connected to, explaining to me what they believe the significance of specific parts are and mean. When I read the story back to myself and I see it all unfold I think that the message is that life is a lesson, you make mistakes, sometimes the cost is substantial. The key is how you respond, what you do the next time to make amends. The book has been very well received so far, with most people enjoying the pace I set and the length of the book. It’s small but it packs a punch.

Who would play the characters in a film?

I would love a bunch of unknowns to act in a film adaptation of the book. I didn’t write the characters with anyone specific in mind and I would have to give careful consideration to who would be cast in the role as Jamal, knowing what I will demand of the character in future books.

What are your next projects? Have you written anything else?

I have completed a very rough draft version of a fantasy novel named “Malakh” which will be the first of a trilogy of books. It’s quite a significant piece of work in comparison to this novella, but despite that I do hope to have it completed and available for sale by May 2014. In addition to this I will be completing the sequel to Singing Sand in the coming months. It will follow on from the events of this book and will see the Nelson family finding themselves in another challenging situation. 

What is your life like? What do you do for pleasure and work when you are not writing?

I live in sunny Adelaide, South Australia. For the past seven years I have worked for Australia’s largest Energy retailer in their customer service department. My favourite thing to do when I’m not writing is sharing a beer with my beautiful wife, relaxing outside with our little dog Hamilton.

Who are your literary influences? What are your favourite books/ films/ albums?

 One of my favourite authors is China Mieville, I loved “Perdido street station” and “The Scar.” Steampunk science fiction is something that I love both reading and watching. I’ve always connected to Tim Burtons style of storytelling and like magical, dark spins on everyday life. I also love the book “Magician” by Raymond E. Feist. As for movies I love many, for the sake of space on this blog I will stick to one… “The Matrix”, I love this film as much for it’s incredible special effects and remarkable storytelling as I do for my memory of first seeing it. I remember that it was the first movie where I walked out speechless, just letting everything I had seen be properly absorbed. 

What are your views on independent publishing?

When I first set out on publishing Singing Sand I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. My only experiences with books where with store bought copies by famous authors, so to tell you the truth I didn’t really have a clue that everyday people could have something printed and distributed. As you embark on the journey of self-publishing you quickly learn what works, how long things take and what people like. I think that it’s excellent how accessible books have become and personally I love the idea of ebooks. The fact that someone can get a copy of my book for a reasonable price anywhere in the world within seconds of adding it to their cart is remarkable. I do however believe that it is a saturated market and with millions of dedicated writers out there the competition is stiff. I really love having full creative control on everything I produce, all the way down to my personal branding. Being an independent publisher gives me that flexibility.

Can you recommend any indie books/ authors?

I would highly recommend “Curve Day” by L. R. Currell & “Illuminating Gracie” by Lisa C.Temple

What would your friends tell us if we asked for your best and your oddest qualities?

Best would be my sense of humour and oddest would be my sense of humour.

What are your favourite animal/ colour/ outdoor activity?

My dog (he’s a cross with about three different breeds)/blue/Australian rules football (AFL)

What would you take to a remote island?

My wife, it would be a lovely little extended holiday

Who would you like to invite for dinner and why?

I would love to invite Will Ferrell for dinner, my wife and I would talk his ear off and drive him crazy with lines from his films.

What are you writing at the moment and where would we find out about your next projects?

Currently working on the sequel to Singing Sand titled “Quietus.” The best way to keep informed on my work is to follow me

on Amazon http://bookShow.me/B00G8WREL2

on Facebook at  www.facebook.com/davidchattawayauthor 

or check out the website at   www.singingsandstory.com

What else would you like us to know about you and your books?

Over the coming year I’ll be putting out another thriller/suspense novella and at least book 1 of the trilogy of Fantasy novels. I’m enthusiastic about writing and love to hear what people think of my writing so please check out the books website and my Facebook page. I love the idea of collaborating with other independent publishers so please do not hesitate to contact me!


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