Interview with M.H. David, Author of The Gouge

27 Apr 2021

What can you tell us about your new release, The Gouge?

The Gouge is my so-called “break-out” novel.  It’s a story of swirling secrets, and suspense centered around a small-town urban legend.  I’ve always found it interesting in real life, that sometimes it’s the small towns that hide the darkest of secrets.  In my book, The Gouge, the town of Cypress Creek is no exception.  There is a tale of, “The Man in the Woods,” that is told among the teenagers of Cypress Creek—as the tale goes, a man follows young lovers into the woods and murders them out of jealousy for what he can’t have—it was just a ghost story that adds a sense of danger to the young romantics that venture into the woods.  No one in Cypress Creek ever expected the ghost story to come true the first time—much less, a second time twenty-two years later.  The characters in the Gouge all have unique and complex backgrounds that intertwine in unexpected ways.  I of course don’t want to reveal too much, so just be ready for some surprising twists.

What or who inspired you to become an author?

I think that honor would first go to my wife.  Many years ago, when she and I had only just started dating, I told her this wild idea I had conjured up for a story.  It was a fun idea that I suppose impressed her, and so she encouraged me to actually write it.  The story obviously wasn’t groundbreaking in the writing or reading world, but it was in my world.  I had accomplished something that I assumed had been reserved for people that were far more talented than myself.  Twenty-one years later, my wife still encourages me to write my stories and my two sons have also picked up that encouragement.   Second, I would say that I’m inspired by all of the independent authors that I’ve befriended over the years at conventions and through social media.  Listening to their accomplishments and their struggles—learning what works and what doesn’t—they’ve helped me to realize that you don’t always write a best seller, but you just take one step closer.

What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?

Just One Look, By Harlen Coben.  Reading this book changed my writing style.  While before I thought a good twist should be at the end of the book, now I try to add as many twists as I can throughout the read.  It’s sometimes daunting, but so much fun.

The Watchmen (Graphic Novel) By Alan Moore.  I am a huge fand of comic books and graphic novels—there’s just something about the mixing of art and words that impresses me.  Watchmen is an alarming mix of supernatural with real political agendas.

Turning Angel, By Greg Isles.  This is another book that changed the way that I write—Greg Isles’ characters are sometimes crass and cruel but still the hero.

Broken, By Karen Slaughter.  When you can feel the pain of the characters you’re reading about, that’s a story you want to read again.

The Outsiders, By S. E. Hinton.  Yeah, the movie was great too, but the book is amazing.  I had to read this book in the seventh grade as part of an assignment, and Ponyboy’s situation really resonated with me.  I think this book maybe matured my mind into reading new and different kinds of literature.

Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?

I always screw up with questions like this.  It’s always later on when I think of a better answer.  And if this is a “choose anyone living or dead” scenario, the question just became even harder.  Do I pick someone iconic, maybe legendary?  Maybe I should just pick some off the wall author that no one has ever even heard of?  I don’t know.  I think I’d go with, Phillip K. Dick.  I’m a sucker for alternate reality stories, even the ones that are just completely off the wall outrageous, which at times PKD’s stories tend to be.  I suppose I would ask him if there were any one moment in his life that his ideas sprouted from?  I would also ask if the recent movie and television shows of his work lived up to his original visions for his stories.

What’s your favorite thing about writing?

The satisfying release.  Yeah, that may sound kind of bizarre, but for me, that’s what it is.  I don’t normally get a lot of time to write, so when I do find the time, I write in bursts—several thousand words in a matter of an hour or two.  After that burst of word flow, (Yep, I just coined the term “burst of word flow”) I may not put a hundred words to the page over the next several days—but I’m still writing in my head.  Throughout my work days I am planning my story in my head—building and working, tearing apart, and re-writing—trying to keep it outlined in my mind.  It really builds up over a few days.  It’s like holding your pee on a long road trip and then finally being able to pull over at a rest stop.  It’s satisfying to see those words on the page, and they’re sometimes better than what I had imagined in my head.

What is a typical day like for you?

There isn’t a lot of excitement to be honest.  My wife and I have two teenage boys that still need to be pulled to start in the morning.  I’m a self-employed contractor by trade.  So, after the wife and kids are off to work and school themselves, I head off to a job site where I swing a hammer for eight to ten hours.  When I finally make it home, I end up having several work calls to return and blueprints to review or quote.  We decide what to do for dinner, and then, if I’m not completely spent and exhausted, I will sit down at my writing desk with a cup of coffee and try to press out a few pages on a book.  I wish that I had more time to write my stories, but that’s just not my reality right now.  Maybe someday.

What scene from The Gouge was your favorite to write?

This may seem like generic answer, but it was definitely the final scene for two reasons.  Reason number one:  After I finished writing that scene, the grunt work for the book was completed and it was time to celebrate.  Reason number two:  From the moment I started writing The Gouge, I knew exactly how it was going to end.  I even knew the final line of the book before I wrote the first.  Throughout writing The Gouge, the story took a few turns that I hadn’t planned on, and because of that, I wasn’t sure if that final line was still going to work.  But in the end, it all came together, and I was still able to proudly tap those words out onto the page.  It was a fun moment for me.

Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?

Be kind to everyone, always.  I wholly believe that expressing kindness to others is the path to greatness, not just greatness for yourself, but greatness for everyone.

M.H. David is the author of the new book The Gouge

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