Darren Sant is one of the new voices on the crime fiction scene. He writes gritty hard boiled Noir and reviews books at his blog Daz’s Short Book Reviews. His collections of stories Tales From The Longcroft Estate is available as an E Book and drawing some great reviews. He met me at The Slaughterhouse where we talked about E Books and publishing.
What do you think truly terrifies people?
Fear. One of my favourite films is the Shawshank Redemption. This film is of course based upon the novella Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. The film has the tag line Fear can hold you prisoner, hope can set you free. I truly believe that. There is a band from Manchester, England called James and one of their lyrics goes It’s the fear of failure that’s a real disgrace. That also resonates as a deep truth to me. Fear itself is the enemy that electrifies us into inactivity. If we can conquer that nothing will halt our actions.
Do you think the politicians in this country know what they’re doing?
A difficult question for me to answer without just putting a string of swear words. Firstly, I’d say that I take a somewhat simplistic view of politics. I am interested in politics very broadly and not the people who create policy. I know my own views and what I believe is right. I think politicians know what they are doing so long as it suits them. I will never believe that my best interests will be best served by a bunch of privately educated millionaires sat around a table trying to decide how best to rip off the taxpayer.
They know what they are doing with regard to their own narrow self-interest. Broadly though they don’t care enough to look at the bigger picture.
Why do you think people are drawn to reading about darkness?
It takes us away from the mundane perhaps. People are curious too about what lies at the other side of every day living. I know when I see some horrible deed has been committed on the news I always wonder at the motive. I’ve studied psychology, sociology, counselling and did two years on the Samaritans lines, I am extremely interested in all facets of human nature. I think most other people are too. I believe we all read not just for entertainment but to look for answers to those questions that aren’t quite on the tip of our tongue or that we dare not ask aloud.
Do you think E Books are changing the face of publishing and if so how?
I believe e-books are changing the face of publishing. They allow people to self-publish what they like quickly and easily. There are obviously positive and negative aspect to this. On the plus side it allows shorts story writers like me to get their work into the market place via e-publishers like Trestle Press one story at a time. This is not a new idea they were doing serialisations in Dickens day. As an avid reader I love the fact that new styles of fiction and speculative fiction can get so easily into the market place.
Traditional publishers have too long controlled the market place with their $$$$ at all cost mentality. They would argue that the quality of this new fiction is poorly edited and badly written. However, that is a sweeping statement which is untrue for a lot of the work out there.
I also believe these interesting times will become better regulated and the politicians will work out ways to make it harder for the little guy whilst getting more revenue out of us. UK buyers are already charged VAT on their purchases when that does not apply to paper books.
Who are your literary influences?
My main influences are storytellers and humorists. Terry Pratchett, Douglas Adams, Robert Heinlein, Stephen King, Philip Jose Farmer.
My reading has been very varied over the years. I just love a good story. However, I’d have to say that my recent fiction has been inspired by more recent reads and authors including: Nigel Bird, Nick Boldock, Chris Rhatigan, Iain Rowan, Paul D. Brazill, Julie Morrigan and many very talented others.
Do you think killing and fucking are related?
Perhaps in the minds of some people. Both are things done with both motive and passion.
Do you think publishers have adapted to the way the E Book has changed the face of publishing?
I don’t think they have or can that easily. A lumbering dinosaur does not become a lean mean killing machine overnight. I think they will adapt and hopefully the market will be a better place for it. It will benefit writers and readers.
Is there a particular event that has changed your life and influenced your writing?
The biggest event that has influenced my writing was my moving to Hull in 2001. In Hull I met my good friend Nick Boldock who encouraged me to join his writing group which was called the Renegade Writers. Without giving you too much bone achingly dull detail they got me writing again. I also have to credit Byker Books. When Nick was published in the first of their Radgepacket series I bought the book. These stories spoke to me. They were a new kind of urban story that I felt I could relate to and even write.
Tell us about your novel.
My ongoing series of stories with Trestle Press are called Tales From The Longcroft Estate. I’ve not really had any ideas that I feel could be of novel length. However, the concept for the Longcroft stories has been rattling around my head for some time. I grew up between two large housing estates and the Longcroft is a bastardisation of these.
What I want to achieve with this series of stories is a range of tales that will entertain people but that they can also in some small way relate to. I like to think that my strengths are in humour and in a certain tight writing style that allows me to include quite a lot of story into relatively few words.
Another thing that always seems to include itself in my stories is a moralistic twist. I don’t want to preach to anyone so this moralistic outlook just seems to include itself. I write with only an outline of a story and I like to see what flows and then edit it into something that makes sense. Somehow within this process I come out with a story I am pleased with.
What I want to give the reader with the Longcroft stories as they progress is a sense of familiarity. I want them to look forward to the next tale and to enjoy exploring the setting as it grows. I don’t have any great master plan (yet) each new tale is bringing as many surprises to me as it is to the reader.
What are the Longcroft Tales about? Well they are urban tales some are darker than others. My aim is to give the reader a glance into a darker grittier world from the comfort of their armchair. A series of little glimpses into a world that will contain humour, heart, soul, sadness, shady characters and dark deeds. The Longcroft stories are not about the black and white but about the shades of grey in between them.
I am over halfway through the third story and the first two are available on Amazon UK (also US) for download at only 86p.
A Good Day (Tales From The Longcroft Estate)
Community Spirit (Tales From The Longcroft Estate)
I also have a collection of six flash fiction tales around the theme of revenge:
Flashes of Revenge
Released just this the first part in a zombie series which is a collaboration between Sam Lang and myself:
Graham Greene said writers have a piece of ice in their hearts. What do you make of his observation?
Perhaps he was referring to the way writers seem to analyse life. Yes, maybe he has a point, it takes a cold fish to look at all of human nature and put it down on paper like it didn’t matter to the observer. That is one argument of course. Another might be that it takes a compassionate person who is only trying to understand the human condition through exploring it. Wiser men than me will be debating that point long after I am worm fodder. I wish them luck! In closing I simply refer you to Douglas Adam’s final thought on life, the universe and everything and respond simply with 42.
Thank you Darren for an insightful and entertaining interview.
Amazon.com links to the books mentioned above:
Tales from the Longcroft Estate – Volume One – A Good Day
Tales from the Longcroft Estate – Community Spirit
Flashes of Revenge
Severed – Vol. I – In The Beginning