25 Damien Larkin Interview
NOTE: my transcription program had a hard time with the Irish accent. Sorry about that.
[00:00:00] Charity Bradford: [00:00:00] This is Loose Leaf, a multi-author podcast journal, where we talk about goals, the ups and downs of writing and where we try to warn you off of our greatest pitfalls. We'll keep it short because you don't have much time and we'd rather be writing. Welcome back to the loose leaf author podcast, Hillary and Kahle couldn't be here with me today, but I'm really excited to have Damien with us. And, uh, we're going to get to know him a little bit better today and his debut novel, big red Damian. Want to introduce yourself?
Damien Larkin: [00:00:36] Yeah, my name is Damien larrikin. Um, first off, thank you very much for having me on the show. I'm really excited about this and I'm an Irish author.
I live in Dublin and I came up when we first ad book big red and was published by dancing lemur press, which is a North Carolina based publishing company. And that came out, uh, just over a year ago and it was actually nominated for the a M. That best and opens the year by the, uh, [00:01:00] BSFA, which I managed to get onto the long list to effort out, which is a big achievement for someone starting off.
And I'm also, yeah, no, it was mind blowing, you know, and you think first, not at all, it's probably going to be hit or miss, but even just getting on a, on a long list with the likes of Margaret Atwood seen my name, just a couple of spaces down from her was just like,
Charity Bradford: [00:01:18] I know I'm so, yeah, gosh.
Damien Larkin: [00:01:20] Yeah. So yeah, they had said I'm ready to be new to the whole writing side of things.
I've only been writing a bit, two and a half years. An, so it's been a bit of a roller coaster, but it's a fantastic experience. And I really, really loving it and made so many great friends within the rank community over here in Ireland and across the UK and like that, I'm just, you know, I'm really excited to be here. So thank you very much.
Charity Bradford: [00:01:42] Well, now I'm even more excited. I have lots of questions for you, but, uh, just from that, you've only been writing, you said about two and a half years. I mean, I think I wrote on my first novel, 10 years before I even got serious completed it. Oh my gosh. It was, it was a nightmare. So [00:02:00] I'm excited. You're on the fast track.
Damien Larkin: [00:02:02] That's what I I'd like to think. So, you know, um, it really was like, it's one of those things. I think looking back at it, I'd always wanted to, to write a novel, to put like so many people out there, there was always an excuse, you know, it's always like, Oh, I've got my two kids and you know, they're in school and they can't really do this.
Or, you know, I have to go off and I have to do this. It's always finding that excuse. And about two and a half years ago. Um, I just basically said enough was enough. Um, I had it in my head. I wanted to, to go ahead and become a writer on like anything I do, if I have something in my mind,
I'm just all about it. 100% throw myself into it, you know, so we're probably one of the best decisions I've made. So I'm very happy, better.
Charity Bradford: [00:02:39] Well, tell me, how did a guy from Dublin get in with a North Carolina publisher? I actually used to live in North Carolina, so I love the place.
Damien Larkin: [00:02:49] Yeah, I heard great things about it. As it's on my list, I've never actually been to America, but just a few places like to check out and put, you had definitely North Carolina and, but how I ended up my publishing deal, it's very, very random and [00:03:00] something not a over here in Ireland. Whenever we have a convention on people actually bring me on to talk about it. And, and it's, to be honest, it's through what you call a Twitter pitch. And so Twitter pitch events, they take place multiple times across the age of the year. And. They can vary in terms of genre or on so forth. Like just some of the bigger ones, like game, like a pit mob and pit Wars or one of the big ones you only randomly came across it on Twitter. And I was like, what is a twitter pitch event? I had no clue, but I saw people like on my timeline just Tweeten.
Kind of things to do with our, their manuscripts. It was like, okay, I look into this. What I ended up submitting for a few, a few of them, I got absolutely nowhere. Then another one came out. I think it was in January or it could have been February. And, but it was by a group called the insecure writer's support group and which are fantastic community of people. And I got involved, ended up getting three likes of three, different publishers. So for someone who coming, from way down, it was like, Oh my God, this is so cool. And it turns out one of [00:04:00] them was a vanity press. So, you know, I did a bit of due diligence and kind of like push them aside. Two legitimate publishers.
Um, I submit to both of them. And in the end I decided to go with Dancing Lemur press, just because of how kind of fantastic they are. And as Diane Wolf, she's the main publisher there. And I think it was just how transparent she was. She was very kind of. Straightforward and kind of explain and what her role was.
And, and it was absolutely no pressure. Like she sent me over the contract after a bit of kind of, after she checked it out on that she just said, look, take a few days, think about it, come back to us then, you know? Um, and I just, so I researched it because it was one of those things I wasn't too sure if it was like too good to be true.
When, you know, you're always looking for some sort of a catch, but like mean. They've been absolutely fantastic. And I haven't looked back since.
Charity Bradford: [00:04:42] I know I've talked to Alex a lot about it, Alex Cavanaugh. He put us in touch, and I know he's with dancing lemur and every time I've talked to him about it, he's. He has nothing but good things to say.
Damien Larkin: [00:04:56] So, which is exactly what you want. You want to have that kind of [00:05:00] level of trust and professionalism. And I couldn't fault them at all. They've never kind of once, let me down, anytime I've ever had a question it's always been answered, which is brilliant, you know, especially for someone like me, who's still kind of learning the ropes in a lot of ways. Um, they're absolutely fantastic crowd. I can't speak more highly about them.
Charity Bradford: [00:05:15] That's a huge blessing because I started with a publisher and it was not like that. No, I got my rights back and I just moved on. But, um, part of me wants to talk a minute about the insecure writer's support group, because I don't think we've talked about that on the podcast yet.
And I used to do it all the time and then I stopped blogging. Why don't you tell us what you love about it and how it's helped you as a writer.
Damien Larkin: [00:05:44] So, uh, to be honest, it's, it's how welcoming they are. And they're really kind of nice group of people. And I think it's the kind of community that they've built, um, and how they kind of like interact with each other.
They're always willing to kind of support each other, pick each other up. There's some [00:06:00] fantastic on their articles that they do on a weekly basis, um, full of kind of practical tips for all kind of writers of all levels. Um, they're really fantastic engagements. They really kind of want it. People to interact with them and to be interacted with.
And to be honest, they're just a great bunch of people. Like you, you see so many kind of horror stories on Twitter, about the writing community, and you could see it some negative kind of backlash type of scenarios, but it's great to kind of see the opposite of that. Like, we're just a bunch of writers who would just do anything to kind of support each other and kind of build each other up.
Um, and in a lot of ways I have to say they inspired me to actually go on. Go on and build my own community, which is a British and writing community, which is focused mania kind of brokers in Ireland and the UK. Um, and we kind of modeled ourselves a little bit on the insecure writers support group, but we came together kind of started building each other up and we launched our magazine Bard of the Isles about a year ago.
So yeah, our fantastic group really can't rate them highly enough.
Charity Bradford: [00:06:57] I'm glad you brought that up because I actually had that on my list of [00:07:00] questions. So that's excellent. How did you. Get that started. I mean, was it hard? Did you find writers pretty quickly that were ready to jump in and be part of that community?
Damien Larkin: [00:07:11] Yeah. I mean, it, to be honest, it was very random how it started. And like, to be honest, all you all, you understand that social media, it's, it's important part of like writers and what we need to do. We need to get our word out there. And the only way we can do it, that is through kind of social media. One of the things that I've kind of said before, and I will say again, is when it comes to Twitter, there is certain kind of toxic elements there.
And it's very hard to kind of connect with, with people in a, in a, you know, a, an open and transparent way. So, um, One day, I was just randomly kind of scrolling through Twitter and I saw a tweet, uh, a British writer called Phil Parker. Uh, fantastic, uh, persons. Well, I'll have to say and what he tweeted.
I don't know something. And specifically, he was like, we should have a community thought, you know, specifically kind of talks about Irish and kind of British writers and what we do and, how our kind of work is unique. I saw it and straightaway, just email and was like, that is a [00:08:00] brilliant idea.
Sign me up. Like, what can we do? Can we actually make this happen? But just two random individuals on the internet, just emailing back and forth over two days. And in the end we're like, yeah, let's do this. So we got all the writers that we knew and reached out to as many people as we could and started building this community.
Yeah. And it's, it's been a fantastic experience. Um, I really just it's better than I ever thought it would be. You know, just knowing that like people haven't even met in different countries and all our like, um, fantastic friends, you know, you can reach out to them for a kind of support or further for a voice. And it's, it's been a roller coaster.
Charity Bradford: [00:08:35] I love it. I love it because that, for me, when I started writing, I mean, this was forever ago and the blogging community is really what helped me keep going and finish that first novel, because like you said, wonderful support. That's how I learned all these different things about writing. Um, I, I'm so excited that you have that now. Something a little closer to home.
[00:09:00] Damien Larkin: [00:09:00] Exactly, exactly. So, you know, I am, and we've even kind of met up at a few conventions. So last year I went over to Bristol cotton over in Bristol, in the UK. And, and again, just a bunch of people who've never kind of stood in the same room together. Just got together. We hit it off. Like we're long lost friends. It was just a great experience. Really, really loved it, you know?
Charity Bradford: [00:09:17] It is, it's just the best feeling. I don't think people who don't write and haven't been with others, they just don't understand.
Damien Larkin: [00:09:24] It's true. It's true. Only writers can understand the madness, you know, that is so true.
Charity Bradford: [00:09:30] Okay. So let's back up a little bit and tell me how or what happened in your life that you first decided I'm going to write a novel.
Damien Larkin: [00:09:39] Am again, it was, it was very kinda random, eh, human children, like they're six and Floyd now, um, after they were born, we significantly better half Anita and she had a fantastic job.
She was an HR manager for a big company and she absolutely loved it. So, um, after our, our eldest daughter was born, we couldn't have that doctor. Kind of sit down conversation like, okay, well, what are we going [00:10:00] to do? Um, will I go to, will I continue kind of working full time and which he continued working full-time um, it all came down to the match basically.
Um, she was in a fantastic job. Um, she was kind of very kind of career orientated and, uh, at the end of the day, it just kind of made sense from a financial point of view and you, I certainly didn't want. To be working full time, as well as her and then compete strangers, raising her children, you know, are painted like X amount of money to, to come to look after him.
So what we just said, look, I'll go, part-time I'll look after the kids, everything will be grand. She gets to go on kind of focused on her career and then come back knowing that the kids are being looked after by myself. So when I was doing that for a couple of years, uh, working part-time, but as a kind of soil kind of project, or you start getting into opt development.
So when. I reached out to a few different American based companies ended up getting three contracts to build ups. So I was like, really kind of mind boggled, wait, what is this really kind of working out for me? You know? And in a very short space of time, everything just went South. I mean, I'm always well at [00:11:00] what taken, what little cash I had gotten a lawyer and just set it on fire.
I'm just trying to get the back. It was, it was horrendous. I had this kind of like moment to, um, I think it's like the long night of the soul or the dark night of the soul. You, when you're going to sit in there and you're reflecting and you're kinda like. What should I do? Should I keep going with it?
The app, eh, should I just keep taking them caution kind of setting on fire or should I try something different? And I don't know how or why, but my mind kind of went back to this thing that I thought, about two years ago where I'd been kind of mapping out my life. And I remember vivid as day, I kind of said, well, look about the two year mark into the app development side of things. I wanted to be earning enough money that I could kind of maybe wind down a couple of hours or. Bring a couple of people else onboard specifically, so I could write a book and that was it. I just wanted to write. And I just remember it was like Thunderbolt kind of stroke. And it was like, okay, why should I be waiting?
You know, to, to build my business. So write a book when I could just cut out the middleman and to write your book, I know it sounds kind of obviously but it's [00:12:00] real kind of like clouds kind of parted, like sunlight shing down, and basically from there, from that point on, I just, I started writing.
It had been the first time in years, I think, in the space of three months. Eh, cause I just think you remember it was a two hours to go on new year's Eve and I'd finished the first draft of one of my first books, which has been a hundred thousand words long. And I just haven't looked back since then. So it's.
Charity Bradford: [00:12:22] Yeah, well, and obviously it comes naturally to you because I'm reading big red right now. And I'm probably at somewhere between 10 and 12 chapters in, and it's a great read to know that you wrote it that fast. Kind of almost hurts cause I'm so slow.
Damien Larkin: [00:12:39] Well, in all fairness, in all fairness, like dropped study did it's changed drastically from what we originally submitted compared to like my publisher kind of polishing it off, you know?
So, I mean, I'd be lost if I didn't have the support from my, my publisher and the editing team there, you know, and that's why I cringe. I, made the mistake of looking back and look one of the earlier drafts here. If you have one skull, it's just like, it's hard. [00:13:00] No, sorry. Just terrible. Goodness. Oh my goodness.
Charity Bradford: [00:13:06] Well, let's talk about the book a little bit. I have lots of other questions, but, uh, one of the things that has really impressed me with the book, I guess, online, that kind of title at a time, travel colonization a little bit military scifi. Yep. The way you handle the time travel aspect, I think is actually brilliant because a lot of times it's, it's hard.
A lot of times for a reader, you get lost in the "wait, where are we in this timeline?" That's going back and forth. I have not been lost once in these chapters, so very well done. Um, where did this idea come from?
Damien Larkin: [00:13:46] It was a nightmare. And honestly it was, it was, it was a nightmare. I distinctly remember. And I woke up the next day and just had, these mad kind of like vivid, kind of dreams.
Look I'm, I'm the type of person who I can normally remember my dreams, but [00:14:00] remember I just had this very strange nightmare and on the witch. Roughly kind of translates into the first two chapters, a big red, but like still to this day, I can, I can see it where I was kind of like I was walking through, we're going to look like an old abandoned school and there's all these kinds of cots and you don't want to fold out beds and the soldiers are kind of laying on them and they're all kind of screaming on the recorder, all upset, you know?
And I just remember kind of walking through this, like as soon as I woke up the next day, he was like, Why were they screaming? What was going on? And I started thinking about it, the more I kind of started thinking about it, the more this kind of story started to form. And I remember just rolling around my head for a couple of weeks until I had it.
And I just went straight into it from there. So nightmare, I'm going to tell you awesome. That's what I do with my first novel too, but the great thing is I love, um, People who don't write science fiction may not understand that it really is all about the questions and taking it and finding the answers to those questions.
And that's what I love about it. You know, [00:15:00] the questions that you come up with. Yeah, exactly. You know, on that, that helps build core, can entertain the stories and when you're kind of questioning yourself and you'll be surprised to where it can lead to, you know, And like, are you, are you all the way, had a very kind of roof over our big red, uh, wha what you call it like a pantser as opposed to a plotter.
So I just kind of go with it. So I just remember a few times when it was just kind of porn, it was like, well, where did that come from?
Charity: Yes. Well, I have to imagine a lot of your personal history. Really helped you bring this novel to life because, um, I heard in a previous interview, you did that you did serve in the Irish. I'm going to say it wrong. Why don't you fill in my blanks there?
Damien: The reserve that had fence forces, um, which are kind of like the, the second line of defense.
So I think it's in America's the national guard. And I think over in the UK, it's still a territory in the army, so it was kind of just like a part-time thing. [00:16:00] And we had to go down to barracks twice a week, a. Go off for weekends and conduit to the firing range or to do tactically tactical exercises. And then you go off a couple of weeks during the summer and the winter with them.
So it was to be honest, I ranked as one of the best decisions I ever made. And I actually, along with, I suppose, people of my generation and a lot of kind of Lloyd, a better age to sneak into the army. So. To be honest, it was void spread. It was just one of those things and where the army officially believes that I'm a year older.
And when all the friends are like, my officers were crossed. If I remember kind of, I think now it could get strong. I don't know if the legal age is 18 and I was 17 or the legal age was 17. And I was 16. Remember kind of like going into the barracks and my officer could ask him what my date of birth was and he gave it to him and just looked at me.
He was like, try again. I kind of gave him this and he goes, okay, well, look, we need to get your parent's signature here. So here's, what's going to happen. I ain't going to leave the room and maybe your parents will walk in and tell you that. So I'm like, okay, I don't know what to do, or we're just going [00:17:00] to went with it on day.
It's a fantastic experience. Taught me something which kind of. It's supposed to be in the South. And a few people had to kind of work together as a group to like fulfill kind of missions or, you know, which gave objectives. And a lot of the skills that I learned there kind of were easily transferrable to other aspects of my life, uh, generally like getting into business or kind of like working and so forth.
Charity: So yeah, I think it's the discipline.
Damien: Oh yeah, absolutely.
Charity: And that's something that, you know, I do not have an experience with that. And even as a writer, it helps you sit down. And get the job done. Um, and I noticed in big red as Darren or dubs telling his story when he wakes up, but he's on Mars and he's like, they all just kind of accept it.
And so I'm waiting to see how much of that is the drugs they were given. How much of it is just the discipline and obedience just drilled into you from basic trading that okay. Just the, you just do it.
Damien: So it's [00:18:00] a bit of everything there without new air, to be honest, eh, like there's, I don't want, obviously don't want to kind of fame, gang splitters, but it's actually, and there's, there's a lot more going on to it at, and couldn't beats the OT.
So I've actually had people come back to me and say, they have to read it two or three times just to kind of. Pick up on the little nugget study paste all the way true. And like one of the things that I'm currently working on Ernst you web next year, it'd build red sand, which is the next novel in the series.
So it's not a direct sequel, but it kind of answers a lot of the historical questions and by our kind of Austin, big red, and I think, eh, The main Carter dope at one point. And when he first, when it gets to Mars, they're brought into this like this big hallway kind of thing on them. The officer, my Jackie's kind of explaining the history and he makes a reference to the 1954 battle of new Berlin.
And that was one thing like readers came back to me after wait, it sounds so fascinating. Like Gallo he's went into Mars and he talked to him there that the Nazis in 1954, like, are you going to write about that? And, um, my publisher actually kind of reached out to me there. Um, but a year ago and said, look, do you ever think about doing maybe a [00:19:00] prequel short story?
We give it away. Amazon just until you kind of readers. And I said, yeah, that's no problem. And wrote about 11,000 words sent it onto her. And she came back to me then a couple of days later, she's like, right. That was brilliant. When can I have that as a novel? Sorry. No, you're looking for shorts. Sorry, this isn't an novel.
And they're like, no, this needs to be a novel right now. And I was like, okay, no problem. So yeah, there'll be a lot more kind of fan. No, get to not Poconos. It should kind of answer a few questions in regret as well.
Charity: Oh, that's excellent. That is so excellent. My mind was just following you along and what a blessing though, to have a team that can encourage you and say. Yes, this is what we want and we want more of it.
Damien: It's really great. And I mean, like I said, I'm such a newbie, that's great. Having someone there to kind of encourage and kind of say, well, this works and that doesn't work. Or like you said, just randomly saying, turn this into a novel. I butts off just work on that together with the shorts already gone.
It was like, okay, cool.
Charity: Okay. Um, So since you're so new at this it's it feels like things are coming very easily for you in the sitting down and writing. And I know that's probably not true. What has been the biggest challenge? Of writing so far for you?
Damien: I think nowadays it's more kind of time than anything. Um, cause it's, it's very kind of tricky when, in terms of the lockdown, um, and kind of like everything just been so up in the air now, I'm kind of, I'm very looking to synthetic and work from home.
So I haven't really been impacted in that kind of way. And I mean, it's an additional blessing getting to spend so much time with my family as well. And, but at the same time, especially in the hated lockdown, when there was very little we could do and it's trying to get into the mindset of actually.
Right. And, you know, I was so used to say, my two children will go to school. I'm gonna get the bulk of the writing done then, you know, and I had a couple hours of just peace and quiet and he's quiet home, just type away a couple of thousand words. But then obviously with the schools closed [00:21:00] and a lot of leisure facilities closed, like the kids are in the house or, you know, why you have to look off and I'll make the backup we're going for walks and so forth.
So it was very difficult trying to kind of balance it a little bit. Do you want us? I think it's starting to, uh, get my productivity, um, a lot higher nowadays. I think once I kind of needed to establish like a pattern of how I'm going to do and what the most effective way was and what to say, that would probably be the biggest challenge I should say overall.
Charity: Yeah. I think a lot of writers have probably struggled with that this year, because you do get used to your system and covid kind of thoughthat all away. So I think a lot of writers have struggled with.
Damien: What's the new process of exactly it. We just have to adopt that's. That's what it is. You know, when I think a lot of us are kind of getting into the swing of it now a little bit and put your head just, there was a couple of days when it was just like, no, no, no.
The kids are screaming. Forgot about it.
Charity: Uh, earlier you mentioned that you went back and read one of those. Early [00:22:00] drafts of your novel. Uh, so that kind of ties into this question. Have you ever really, really hated something that you wrote?
Damien: Yes. So I call it my first draft on every single novel I've ever done.
Absolutely hate. And if I had hair, I'd be pulling it out kind of thing. And the way I kind of like to do things is I believe in just kind of pouring the words out in the first draft. Like don't even read it. Don't look at it. Don't edit. Don't fix it. It's just getting. The entire story out there and then chipping away at it in, in kind of later drafts.
So yeah, I hate that. Like, as soon as I finished the first draft I'm then going back to read and kind of edit and fix it up. It's just like, no, it's like, this is terrible. No one's ever going to like this, but you just have to get on with it. It's just one of those things, you know? Yeah. Just pour, just let it pour out.
Don't read it. Just keep going.
Charity: What has been the toughest criticism you've ever received?
Damien: Yeah. That's a very quick question. Toughest criticism, I'd say. Um, so you don't really [00:23:00] want to think of criticism as necessarily like a negative thing. Like I kind of like to look at it as more kind of constructive feedback.
So even if someone doesn't like something, I try and kind of see the positive and kind of look for the lesson that I could be learning and. Probably like, uh, gotten a few comments off my, my editor and just a Bitcoin, a question and query in certain things. And then my latest novel. Um, that's one thing I always say is the Mark of a fantastic editor is someone who kind of pushes you and challenges and kind of gives you a different kind of viewpoint or a different opinion on something.
And one of the things you should kind of queried was the book itself is set in 1954 and M. It kind of deals with a lot of, kind of, I suppose, tough content because you're, you're kind of dealing with it that the Nazis, um, quite of ruin Myers and there's a lot of, kind of like, eh, inherent code racism as well in that 1950s kind of British society.
So there's one or two kind of times when some secondary characters made some kind of off the cuff comments about at the main or one of the characters who was Irish and. [00:24:00] I was, you know, white male you're sh so, and he made kind of like an anti Rustler and no, the way Oakland look at it is like, I'm an Irish writer.
I'm kind of writing something in the fifties. And it was, there was kind of like times when there could be kind of a commentary like that made against Irish people. And she didn't like that at all. And we kind to chat today with a little bit, and I said, look, I can understand if it was X, Y, and Z, but this is like me and all your perks and making an Ontario Irish clinic comment though.
I'm okay with it. I'm absolutely fine because it's complimenting the story in them. Was real. Oh yeah, absolutely. vintIC place. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I mean, there was kind of like, I won't go into it here, but there was a lot of, kind of like incidents, uh, in certain aspects of society during that timeframe when people would have, you know, used kind of colorful language.
And I bet a lot of people, you know, not just the Irish kind of thing. So when we kind of have to sit back and say, well, look, this is why important. Not in there, it's not kind of, and I'm not just thrown into it for the sake of throwing it in. It's something that you . Parents, my grandparents would have experienced to certain degrees.
You know what a, again, I really appreciate it. The fact that you gave me that, that insights and kind of opened [00:25:00] my eyes to like the other kind of things. So it's actually fantastic experience, you know,
Charity: I love that. You're you're right now, you're being the best example of how to take criticism, see it as constructive and to have that dialogue and say, um, because.
One of the things that we've mentioned to our listeners is you have to get to a place where you can take it in, but then you can also say, yeah, Thank you for sharing your thoughts with me on that. But for my story, this is what I need and, and being able to, to take the comments and use it to be better, but not change your story to make everybody else.
Damien: Exactly. Exactly. That's that's the way to do it. You know, with symptoms, I learned a lesson kind of a very long time ago was try and kind of understand. What are people's opinions by, you know, imagine yourself in there. She was in train and see the world would atrium train, see it. And once you have that and understand that it can, could help you as a writer, but also as a person.
So I was really kind of grateful for all the feedback I've gone, even if [00:26:00] we didn't necessarily like it and really kind of appreciate the editing team on everything that they're done for me. And kind of challenging me to look at things from different points of view, which just straightens up the book and straightens up the writing.
Charity: Exactly exactly. But in the end you have your own voice and I love it. Absolutely. What is the best compliment you've received so far?
Damien: And probably being compared to Robert Heinlein, which was just really, really killed. And it wasn't even kind of one person who was like, yeah, like it seems kind of big red came out, Hey, I want to start getting those kind of reviews.
And it was showing up in kind of blog posts, but it always started off like the new Robert Heinlein are, you know, this is very Robert Heinlein like, and it's like, Wait. Well, that's just more in blown, like really, really killed, you know, I really kind of appreciate that. So yeah, that's probably been the best and I still keep seeing it every time.
It, from time to time when people kind of like new people do pick it up and kind of read them. It's just like every time I was like, wow, you know, I wish I could take that and run with it.
Charity: Okay. One of our favorite questions, if Hillary was here, she would ask it because it's her favorite question, but she's traveling today. Do you feel like And I think I already know the answer, but do you feel like writing is a blessing or a curse?
Damien: Oh, definitely a blessing, you know, I'm so kind of appreciative for having that as an outlet.
Um, like I said, just, you know, being able to go to write something that kind of people connect with and kind of, um, kind of, you know, Get some joy out of it. You know, it's, it's really just a mind blowing experience. And I think as writers, we tend to kind of, um, be very hard on ourselves and with that, you know, especially when someone's trying to praise you, it's three.
Oh, you're clearly lying. Well, yeah, it's just, I suppose it's just being able to kind of pour my nightmares and my mind onto the pages and how people really kind of like, just soak it up and read it in one more basically. So yeah, it's probably one of the [00:28:00] best gifts I've received and I'm so kind of grateful for it and for the opportunities that it's opened up for me.
So yeah, definitely blessing a hundred percent.
Charity: I love it. So if you had to describe, and I'm sure non-writers have asked you this question, most likely, how do you describe to them what it feels like when you're in the zone writing?
Damien: Um, it's, it's, it's joy. It's just kind of. Bliss, you know, I, it's kind of like everything kind of melts away, but I'm just, I'm so focused on the story on this world is just so vivid.
It's in my mind, it can almost kind of reach out and touch it. Um, I can, I can, you know, detect the sense I can hear it. It sounds I can see the characters. I can see the buildings I can feed the action. It's it's just, it's an, it's an amazing experience. Um, I've, I've had a corporate writing sprints where, um, I just sat down and maybe with the intention of doing maybe a couple hundred boards, maybe it helps me.
Tails and boards, and just ends up doing to be 10,000 in a space of a couple hours, just because it was so intense, so [00:29:00] kind of lost in this world, but I didn't want to stop, you know, so it's, it's absolutely fantastic experience. I wish you could kind of get more kind of writing sprints like that. Cause I'd love it.
If you think your mind is 10,000 words in one sitting, that's like 10% of a book right there. So, um, yeah, I'm just waiting for the stars to align again for me. And it's so funny because when you feel that it's just like, you're just tapping into that creative energy of the universe, or however people want to look at it and it is it's.
Charity: Yeah. It's I love the way you described it. And I think that's why I've hit the point where sometimes I'm just sitting down and like, today this is a job I need to get one more chapter done. And like you said, you're always waiting. To tap into that again. And, uh, it's been a while for me because I love science fiction.
I write a mix of science fantasy, but about two years ago, three years ago, I started writing romance [00:30:00] because it makes me money. I kind of feel like I sold my soul out though.
Damien: Oh, I mean, as long as you're, you're kind of happy with what you're doing and at the end of the day, That's right. Here's where you can't feel guilty back and paid.
Um, and it's something that, I mean, each and every one of us would love to, you know, be millionaires I'm sure. From our writing book. I mean, if it's one of those things that, you know, you're passionate about kind of right. Enrollments and you're happy with his girlfriend. Absolutely. I'd love to be able to do it, to be honest.
And I'm just one of those I'm really kind of into it, like actually type of books and lower the blood and guts and explosions and stuff. So I'm just trying, I'm trying to find a way of like mailed some sort of romance team into that a little bit. And yeah, I'd love to be able to deal with it. No, not at this stage in my career, but I'm working on it.
Charity: Okay. For military Scifi,I have really appreciated the language is clean.
Damien: Oh yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Charity: I was like, because I love military scifi, but I don't often share it with my friends because a lot of times. It's very real. Like my brother served [00:31:00] 20 years in the air force here and he's like, Oh yeah, the language it's like, Oh, okay.
Um, so I really appreciate that. And I wonder, is that a personal choice from you? Was that your publisher?
Damien: Um, I'd say probably 98% of it was me. There was like maybe 2% from my publisher. Um, because I remember in the original manuscript and there was like two, I think there was two instances of the, the F word.
Um, the pusher publisher came back and just said, look, the way we do things, um, she just, what did she describe it to me? It was. PG 13, I think is some writing over there. So I actually have to Google that because we would have different classifications. Okay. PG 13. What can I do? And I just had to look at it and to be honest, like 98% of the manuscript did fit those guidelines, you know?
And so it was just literally, I just made two slow changes, remove two words and replace them with something else. And that was it, you know? So, um, I think for me, I think there's a time and a place to kind of have language in there, [00:32:00] you know, in your, in your work. And if it compliments it, go for it, you know, if it doesn't don't and because I naturally don't really bright like that anyway.
Um, I just said there was two instances. I was like, yeah, that's no problem at all. So quite happy for me with them, you know, does it, it doesn't impact the story at all. So, yeah, I suppose that's just me. You don't, you know, I do tend to focus a lot on the violence as opposed to, you know, excessive language or kind of like series of teams just it's my way.
Right. I like doing what I like doing, you know, and I don't want to kind of just, I suppose, touch on stuff just because of that. Cause it'll sell more, you know, so yeah, quite happy. But, uh, but I think, you know, like you said, there there's a time and a place where it would add authenticity and that's so important in our writing.
Charity: And the thing is, is I feel that though, even without the language in your story and, and I think that's because of your experience and it's coming through and I'm really enjoying it, so we'll make sure we have links. For everybody to, to find you on Amazon. [00:33:00] Uh, have you ever considered, I didn't look, is it in audio yet?
Damien: Not yet. So I think it's something to em at some point, I, again, I'm not a hundred percent sure on how my publisher goes up, but I think it has to take X amount of boxes before we went to move into that direction. So, yeah. I don't think I'm quite there yet, but, uh, fingers crossed down the line. What advice would you give writers?
Charity: What is it you want readers to know about you? What's on your mind.
Damien: Yeah. So one of my favorite things to do, um, so in terms of, we say, I'd say don't be too hard on yourself. Um, I think there's a lot, especially in the online community, there's a lot of people follow kind of like Stephen King, obviously, because he's such a fantastic writer and he's so successful, but even one of his quotes is something like, if you can't do, if you can't do like four hours a day or can't do like 4,000 words or something along those lines, It's I suppose it's, it's, it's kind of comparing yourself to how we eat those things, you know, which is falling.
If that's what you want to do. Absolutely. Go for it. But don't kind of hold yourself to this standard, [00:34:00] um, or to anyone else's standard except for your, for your own. So, um, the way I can look at things is if you write it a hundred words, if you write a thousand words, if you write 10,000 words that you're a writer, if you can actually take the time to do it.
And in order thing is like, don't be hard on yourself. Like give yourself a day off. I mean, if something goes wrong, like say if you're kind of launching a book and it doesn't do as successfully as you anticipated, give yourself permission to just, you know, feel bad. It's okay. It's absolutely fine. Um, Like writing, just like anything else in life.
Um, you just have to kind of go with it sometimes, you know, sometimes yeah. You got hit with a curve ball. Sometimes something unexpected happens. It's just really just go with it. Do the best thing that you can do, be the best version of yourself that you can be as a person, as like a part of your, your family, friends, whatever citizen and member of the community.
Your best self don't be too hard on yourself. Roll with it, go for it.
So, I mean, get that. That's what I say in terms of voice. Um, if you're looking to, to, I suppose know something about me, I think we've [00:35:00] touched on a little bit is, um, really kind of proud of the fact that it was a member of the reserve defense forces. And it's something that I would encourage people know.
Obviously I know it varies from country to country, the different kinds of setups and what I mean, especially to tiny window. listing in Ireland, um, will be to, yeah. If you get the opportunity to, to enlist, even if it's a member of the reserve force, it's actually fantastic experience. Um, there's a lot of, kind of like, eh, organizations out there that if the military thing, isn't your thing.
And I think there's reserved kind of, eh, Gardy, which is kind of police there's reserve kind of fire and fire. Men. What's the word I'm looking for? Fire for your prevention. I don't know what I'm trying to say, but yeah, there's a lot of money. Yeah. Organizations out there for young people say that to go join.
And when you'd be surprised that the life lessons that you learn on the experiences you get to have, and one of my favorite experiences ever was when it was in the reserves, it was a part of the, the weapon support company. So we got to play with a load of like your weapons, my favorite one. [00:36:00] Ever was the 60 vector at 60 millimeter vector mortar.
And all we love stay with me to my dying day, watching the bomb, drop into the mortar, just seeing it, look it up and see it disappear into the clouds. And then way off there's this mountain. And you just see the explosion a moment for you here to sound. I'm just seeing this, all these explosions on the top of this mountain.
You're like, well, Oh, you did so good. And that's something, no one can never going to take away from you. Cause it's just. Burned in here. It's just, wow, that's so good. So
that is so much fun.
Charity: Damien, it has been so fun having you, and I'm glad that Alex shared our podcast with you.
Damien: Yeah, no, it's been fantastic. And thank you very much for your time and for having me on. And like I said, hopefully we'll cross paths again in the future. I think I ever looking for a guest, you know, where to find me, I'm always quite happy to hop on another quick chat, you know?
So thank you very much for it.
Charity: I really do appreciate the opportunity. I will let you get back to your afternoon, but I'm so [00:37:00] grateful that you were willing to join us. Really appreciate your time. Thank you so much for everything. And you have yourself a wonderful day.
Damien: Thank you, you too.
Charity: And thank you for giving us our small little podcast. Uh, some excellent, excellent advice on, on writing and, and sharing your journey with us. We appreciate it.
Damien: No, no problem at all. Anytime
Charity: We like to sign off with something that we hope is inspiring for others. And we like to say, keep writing or start writing,
Damien: Keep writing or start writing. I like it. Yes, yes.
Yes. Thank you so much. And I hope you have a wonderful day. Thank you