Booksquawk interviews The Wolves of Langabhat author D.A. Watson.
Interview by Hereward L.M. Proops
Booksquawk: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
D.A. Watson: Well I’m pushing forty, I live in the Inverclyde area with my family, and I’ve been doing this writing thing seriously for about four years now. I was doing a music and digital media degree at Glasgow Uni, and showed an early unfinished draft of my first novel to Louise Welsh, who was writer in residence at the time. She thought I had something, and told me I had to finish it. So it was self-published on Amazon after being knocked back by just about every publisher and agent in the UK. It still seemed to go down well with folks though, so I wrote the The Wolves of Langabhat, landed a literary agent and got it published. When I’m not scribbling, I work in an office, play guitar with my band Remembering Joone, and enjoy reading, Mexican food, Candy Crush, and Nerf battles with my five-year-old son.
B: Viking werewolves is a great concept. Where did the idea behind “The Wolves of Langabhat” originate?
D.A.: I like to base my stories on existing folklore, and I found the story about the wolf men of Loch Langabhat on a paranormal database of the UK. As I’ve never actually been to Lewis, I figured I should find out about the place, and it turned out there’d been a lot of Viking activity back in the day on the island, which is always a good jumping off point for violence. I wanted to do something different with the whole werewolf mythology, and when I was researching Vikings and berserkers, I found all the stuff about King Harald’s Ulfhednar and the wolf god Fenrir, and it all just fell into place.
Booksquawk: Werewolves don’t get as much attention as zombies or vampires. Are there any werewolf movies or books that influenced you?
D.A.: Hell yeah. I grew up watching An American Werewolf in London and The Howling, which are still brilliant films. Dog Soldiers is also a firm favourite. Book-wise, The Howling III : Echoes was the first horror novel I ever bought with my own money when I was about ten. I also love Glen Duncan’s The Last Werewolf trilogy, and there’s some tremendous David Gemmell fantasy novels featuring weaponised lycanthropes and ultra-violent battle scenes. They were definitely an influence.
Booksquawk: “The Wolves of Langabhat” is quite a lengthy novel, particularly for a horror story. How long did it take to write?
D.A.: I think it was a little over a year to get the first draft done, then about another two in re-writes and edits.
Booksquawk: Writing convincing action is a real challenge for many authors. The novel is chock-full of great action sequences - do you have any tips for writers who struggle with this?
D.A.: Learn from the masters. I’m a fan of good up-close and detailed action scenes, and guys like Joe Abercrombie, Richard Laymon, David Gemmell and Dean Koontz should all be studied. Simon Scarrow’s Roman novels are also required reading for anyone who wants to know how to write a really good and brutal battle scene. You could also actually act out some of the movements to get the mechanics right. I found myself jumping about the room, locked in mortal combat with imaginary enemies quite a few times while writing this story. Anyone passing by the window must have thought I was mental.
Booksquawk: Was it a challenge to write a book with a real location that you haven’t visited?
D.A.: Well, that’s where Google Earth came in handy. I spent a lot of time virtually flying around the Isle of Lewis, watching videos and looking at pictures of the place. From the feedback I’ve had, it seems like I did a decent job. Go, technology!
Booksquawk: The book’s ending leaves plenty of scope for a sequel. Have you considered writing another werewolf book?
D.A.: Maybe a short story, but I’ve no plans at the moment to write another werewolf novel. Got other fish to fry.
Booksquawk: Do you have a particular routine for writing?
D.A.: Having a full time job and a family makes it tricky to get any real writing time in, so my creative process really just involves waiting until everyone in the house goes to bed and staying up way too late, hoping to get a thousand words down.
Booksquawk: What other writers inspire you?
D.A.: Other than the guys namedropped above, The King, of course, who’s just the man, and his boy Joe Hill’s not too shabby either. Some of my other favourites are Irvine Welsh, Christopher Brookmyre, Wilbur Smith, Dan Simmons, Robert McCammon and Adam Nevill. Joe Donnelly, a little known Scottish writer who wrote some brilliant horror novels, is probably the one who inspired me to try my hand at writing, as his stories are set in the area where I grew up.
Booksquawk: Have you got any other books in the pipeline?
D.A.: My first novel In the Devil’s Name, has finally found a publisher and the new edition’s just gone live on Amazon. The launch night’s at Waxy O’Connors in Glasgow on the 25th August if anyone’s around! I also just started writing the epilogue of my third novel Cuttin Heads, a supernatural rock n roll story. After that, I’ve got a few short story ideas I want to get down, and the next big project with be either a post-apocalyptic screenplay called The Shift, that’s been started, or a horror/fantasy/western revenge novel, which in my head is currently titled Adonias Low and features a badass bounty hunter out to violently right some wrongs.
Read the review of The Wolves of Langabhat here.