Interview with self-published writer David J Rodger

David J Rodger is an SFX reader and also works on the back end of the SFX website. It may be that you’ve heard of him before, because he’s also an author who’s self-published a number of novels using online print-on-demand services. Is that a difficult thing to do? Keen to share his experiences with others, we quizzed him about his latest novel (the 451-page Edge).

SFX: How did you get started writing, and what prompted you to go down the route of self-publishing?
Rodger:
I started writing back in 1989, the same month the Berlin wall came down! I was 19. I quit my job at the time and blew my savings for a few months of creative freedom. Bloody loved it! These days I’m at a point where I can squeeze the writing into the spaces around a job: wake up at 4, write ’til 7, go to work, and then do another two hours in the evening. I took the self-publishing route because I was always too busy writing to invest enough time into hunting for an agent or publisher. Plus I’ve always detested the submission process and I was hearing horror stories about traditional publishing houses: editorial interference; ridiculous contracts; delays in royalties; I even heard about one guy signed up by a publisher who then failed to sell his book into any stores. I chose LULU because I wanted to be in control of the whole process and I found the print-on-demand service provided immediate access to a global market. Some people think the self-publishing route is like vanity publishing, or that your work can’t be any good – this couldn’t be further from the truth. Going it alone can be immensely challenging but incredibly rewarding!

SFX: Without giving too much away, can you tell us what ‘Edge’ is about?
David Rodger:
‘Edge’ is a horror-thriller centred around the exclusive Zen Dow snowboarding resort in New Zealand. A young inventor has gone there on a break, but events take a dark turn when people start going missing. On the other side of the world is Halo Santana, an unscrupulous talent scout. A random incident gives him a lead on a new technology that’s vanished from a corporate R&D division. Both men find their fate entwined as events unfold. It’s part of a much larger ‘world’ I’ve created, which fits snugly into the futuristic genre of Cyberpunk and the alien horror of the Cthulhu Mythos. It’s very much standalone but I enjoy cross-pollinating stories; if you’re a fan of my previous books you’ll spot some familiar corporations, brand names and technology.

SFX: You’re self published so how do we get copies of your stuff?
Rodger:
It’s on LULU, so you can get ‘Edge’ directly from the website here. LULU has a relationship with other resellers – for example my first novel, ‘God Seed’ is available through Tesco, Waterstone’s, Amazon and Borders!

SFX: What advice do you have for any of our readers who feel they have a novel inside them?
Rodger:
Make time and never give up. If you’re serious about writing a novel then you’ve got to plan for the time impact on your life. Don’t let anything get in the way of those hours you set aside every day. Always get your work read by as many people as you can: seek out criticism (you’re producing a product, and if there are any flaws with it you want to know about them so you can fix it). Don’t take criticism personally; don’t be precious, be detached and professional. Using a print-on-demand service can be a great first step: order some copies of your book and send them to people who’ve agreed to review it for you – I think reading a proof copy is a lot easier than reading a manuscript and you’ll get a better response from people who’ve made the promise to help. Give it a try – you’ve got nothing to lose.

SFX: What’s on your workbench at the moment – what will we see from you next?
Rodger:
I’ve just started working on my fifth novel, ‘Dog Eat Dog’. It’s the first to be set in the world of Yellow Dawn, which is a role-playing game I wrote back in 2007 and I’m pretty damn excited about it. Yellow Dawn takes the near-future world of my novels, applies an apocalyptic event (caused by a Lovecraftian Mythos god) and picks up the pace ten years later. There are Dead Cities, lost to the living dead but representing treasure troves of resources for scavenging; human survivors dishing out racial intolerance on post-apocalyptic mutants; and there’s a plethora of political interplays, especially with the survivors of former police and intelligence agencies jockeying for influence and power in this Brave New (and brutal) World – which is how the main characters of the novel enter the fray.

SFX: Thanks David and good luck.

You can see some of this chat on p37 of SFX 190 – and don’t forget if you’ve created a fanzine, book, club, convention or fan film you must write in and tell us about it so we can tell others about it too – send samples to Post Apocalypse, SFX, Future Publishing, 30 Monmouth Street, Bath, BA1 2BW. Have you written any fiction and tried to get it published? What are you tips? Comments and thoughts welcome in the thread below as always.