An interview with David Bowen

David Bowen

David Bowen was born, of that he is pretty much sure, although it was so long ago he can't remember any of the specific details. He lives in Cardiff, Wales and describes himself as terminally single. He fervently denies ever being there and has no previous convictions. We talked to David about his influences and inspirations in September 2014, as part of our How Stories Connect Us series.

Which book do you own that puts a smile on your face and makes you happy just by holding it in your hand?

Okay I'm going to blatantly cheat on this. There is no possible way I can choose just one book, but at least I'm an honest cheat. Hopefully Fantasy Book Review won't put me in the naughty corner with my back to the class for it.

The first book I'm going to pick is Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I have several imprints of this book and each one makes me happy. I can remember in school painting 'Don't Panic' on my calculator and trying to convince my friends it was a genuine copy of the guide by using the numbers held upside down to make letters and words. It worked too, as long as the answer to the question was 'shell oil' or 'boobies.' Now whenever I see a quote from Douglas it's like remembering an old friend.

Then there is Terry Pratchett's Discworld series (I'm pretty sure I was supposed to put a little TM in there somewhere). I came across Pratchett late on. Despite several attempts they never quite clicked with me until Guards! Guards! It seems strange now considering how influential and important those books from that fine old fellow in a hat are to me now. Although not my favourite Discworld novel (I'm keeping that a secret to add mystery and intrigue to this interview) Guards! Guards! is the one I'm choosing to mention because it is the book in which I discovered the wonderful world of Pratchett, and for that reason the one that makes me smile the most.

Which book or series do you read which makes you feel nostalgic, remembering the period in your life you first read it?

Lord of the Rings first and foremost. It is the book in which I truly became hooked on books. It was the one where I discovered how magical a thing a book is. I first read it as a young boy on holiday with my parents. I think it was their favourite too because I didn't need entertaining with costly amusement park rides and machines. I was happy sitting on the beach with my book. They were free in the evenings to go out while I stayed in the hotel room deep in the realms of Middle Earth. I also remember desperately trying to reread it one last time before the film's release, just in case Peter Jackson ruined it for me (he didn't by the way).

There is also David Eddings Belgariad series. It still makes me laugh that I feigned sickness to get a day off school to finish it. Justified I think; finding out what happened to Garion and company, was way more important than double French.

Which book or series do you read that makes your blood pump and your palms sweaty?

Most recently I'd have to go with Belinda Bauer's Rubbernecker. The main protagonist Patrick suffers from Asperger's Syndrome and you're never quite sure if events are real or just part of his unique view of the world. Obviously similar to Mark Haddon's Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, I nevertheless found it different enough to ignore any comparisons.

I'm also going to mention Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey, basically because of the frustrating anticipation waiting for the rest of the series; that really does get my blood pumping and my palms sweaty. Hurry up and finish the series Jasper!

Which book or series is your guilty pleasure? The one you read when no one else is watching? Maybe it's the Twilight Saga with the dust jacket of War and Peace?

The term guilty pleasure makes me think of sixteenth century monks wearing soft linen underwear to Tuesday's evensong, or yoghurt with chocolate sprinkles and real fruit pieces. As far as books go I don't think you can have a guilty pleasure. Read what you like, whether it is teen fiction or mild porn for housewives. That answer does seem like a cop out so I'm going to say Dan Brown. I'm labelling it under guilty pleasure because I've noticed people have started criticising Dan Brown's books. It seems like he has become, like so many others, a victim of his own success, but let's face it, he is popular because he tells a good gripping story.

Which book or series do you think you could implant one of your own characters into? Would you want them to thrive and integrate or want them to burn it all down?

I would love to see Reg in Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I wonder what a staunch trade unionist like Reg would have to say about the Oompa Loompas' working and living conditions. Not to mention Health and Safety, did you see what happened to that Violet girl! "Oompa loompa doompety doo, we're on strike not working for you."

Oh yes and for the record my favourite Terry Pratchett novel is Jingo, suspense till the very end. Huh?
David Bowen, 2014

David's new book, Hell on Earth, is available to buy now from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. He can be found online on Twitter and Facebook. Here is the synopsis:

Hell On Earth book cover image.When staunch trade unionist Reg Hallsworth gets relocated to Hell few can imagine the trouble it will cause. Certainly not Death Third Class number 221 of the Human Transition Department, who hides him there to cover up his own clerical error.

Certainly not Norris who knows nothing of the afterlife, so much so that he doesn't even know Jenny, the girl he's currently dating, is an Angel. His Guardian Angel if you really want to put a label on that sort of thing.

And certainly not Jenny who is far too busy trying to help Norris get over his epiphany, his life changing liberation... his nervous breakdown.

But with Hell on strike and sinners queuing up to get in they soon will. With a disaster of biblical proportions just around the corner it is up to these unlikely heroes to save the day and find a suitable location to build a new Hell... on Earth.

If you had to build a new Hell somewhere on Earth where would you put it?