Monday, June 6, 2011

Interview with debut novelist David F. Porteous

Reviews and Interviews is happy to have debut novelist David F. Porteous here today as he does a virtual tour for Singular.

Bio: David F. Porteous was born in 1980, but was asked for ID in a bar as recently as February 2011. Yes, it was dark, but still.

He attended Cockenzie and Port Seton Primary School where he learned to spell and write his name in cursive. The value of these once impressive skills has been substantially undermined by subsequent technological developments.

In 2002, he graduated from Napier University in Edinburgh with a degree in Marketing Management. His honours dissertation asserted that there was a bright future ahead for DVD rental stores. Over time this assertion proved to be both wrong and stupid.

(He is not giving back the degree).

David has been a stand-up comic, poet, voice actor, and social research consultant. He stuck with the consulting because it was only thing people paid him for.

Singular is his first novel.

David, welcome! Please tell us about your current release.
Singular is set in a near-future where it’s possible to live forever by transferring your consciousness into a virtual universe called the Singularity Network. As Britain prepares to make access to the network free for all, evidence is emerging that the network isn’t all that it seems and that a nameless, faceless ‘it’, born in the machine world, has been reaching out into the real world and committing murder of a huge scale.

It’s from the perspective of four characters whose own personal struggles - for power, for revenge, for freedom and for life – throw them together and into conflict with each other. It’s an exploration of death, what it might mean to be immortal and what it means to be alive.

It’s also funny – I feel the need to say that because I haven’t found a way of summarizing the plot and key themes and the tone.

What inspired you to write this book?
A lot of the book is inspired by a cancer misdiagnosis in 2009. It wasn’t until some time after I’d had an operation that we realised I didn’t have cancer, but in the intervening time I’d written a great deal of the book that would be Singular.

My particular muse has an odd sense of humour.

The rest of the book is my philosophy, my thoughts on a range of issues and my love of jokes, cataclysms, and sword fighting.

What exciting story are you working on next?
My main effort is the difficult second novel. I’d started writing two other stories before I settled on the one I’m currently working on – and this is the one I’ll finish. I hope you don’t mind me being coy about details, but I find that it’s too easy for me to talk about writing as a substitute for actually doing it.

Alongside this big project I’m playing with a few short stories that I’ll eventually release as a collection, but in the meantime I’ll probably send them out into the world individually to see what the reaction is. I’m writing one story which is only dialogue, no description, and another where the main character – a five-year-old dragonslayer – is mute. I’ve no immediate plans to write something “like Singular”; I think it’s important to explore different styles and subjects to grow as a writer.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Almost a decade ago I was in a bar. I’d been doing some stand-up comedy for a while, the BBC had shown some interest in a couple of comedy sketches I’d written and I was working on spec script for something I honestly don’t remember. I was very young and I thought that becoming famous was inevitable. I described myself as a writer then.

As it turned out, the BBC lost interest in the sketches and just gave a blunt 'no' to the script. I didn’t write anything much after that for about seven years. It was a setback I almost never recovered from.

At the moment I have no problem with saying “I’ve written a book”, but I’m not describing myself as a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’d love to be able to make writing pay the bills. That may be the ambition of every writer from Aeschylus onwards. I haven’t yet managed it, but I am gainfully employed as a social research consultant. Writing is my weekend job; I rarely find the time or the energy for it otherwise.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Honestly – a writer. At about nine I sat down to write a book and got as far as numbering and naming each of the chapters, having no idea how to do anything else. The story I’d wanted to write was somewhere between the Elizabeth Shue film Adventures in Babysitting and Harry Potter. I think somebody still needs to write that story.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
At the end of this virtual book tour, one lucky person who “likes” Singular on Facebook will receive the signed proof copy of the US print edition of Singular – a one-of-a-kind, never-be-another prize. You can find me on Twitter and at my website.

Thanks for having me.

You're welcome. We enjoy meeting new authors and finding new books to read. Have fun with your book tour.

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