Today on Paws4Thought I talk to Dave Higgins who not only wrote two of the stories in Fauxpocalyse, but is also one of the editors and the overall publisher of the anthology (for which we are eternally grateful).
Tell us a little bit about yourself Dave.
I live in a flat full of books with my wife and two cats.
I spent many years working in law, interspersed with business analysis; whether I got the jobs because I have an unusual perspective or have an unusual perspective because of the jobs I am unsure.
While I was at university I used to write poetry and the occasional short story, but gave it up due to pressure of work. When the firm I was with closed a few years ago I found myself writing fiction again, so the decades of rhetoric and fine drafting are still getting use.
You have two very different stories in Fauxpocalypse. Can you tell us what inspired you to write each tale?
Possibly unsurprisingly, one of my first thoughts when I saw Misha’s call was about whether a predicted extinction event would suspend the rule of law and how the UK Government might legislate in advance of it. So my first draft of Thieves was based on a lawyer struggling with the somewhat draconian consequences of knee-jerk legislation. I realised the legal parts – while very enjoyable for me – would only really be of interest to people who like obscure legal reasoning, so expanded the witness statements about a religious community into a full story… and poor Jason ended up sleeping on a paillasse.
Shoulders of Giants was probably originally triggered by Commander Hadfield keeping the International Space Station in the news. The juxtaposition with my brainstorming about human reactions to peril triggered the thought that astronauts already accept a huge risk for the chance to push back the boundaries of knowledge, so some of the ISS crew might choose to die in orbit rather than a short while later on the planet’s surface. The remainder of the plot is mostly an attempt to overcome the multiple redundancy built into everything on the ISS specifically to stop it becoming exciting.
How realistic do you think the future you predicted in Thieves in the Night is?
Human society is still at heart tribal, so ordinary people retreating into small self-supporting groups seems a very likely response to extreme stress.
We also have a history of disbelieving even the most unobjectionable things; so there will inevitably be people who do not accept the end of the world. I would like to believe that the United Kingdom will hold together better than post-apocalyptic tales usually suggest, and that the Gibbons’ Farm model would be more common than alternatives, but I suspect there would also be communities formed around the idea that a secret meta-government was faking the apocalypse as a tool of control.
If you thought that the world really was going to end, what would you do?
I am not certain. The risk-averse lawyerly part of me would want me to not spend resources frivolously, so it might depend on why the world was ending and how much warning I had.
Even if travelling for pleasure did not conflict with maintaining resources for essential services I cannot really think of anywhere I must go before I die. I value being with my wife more than other experiences, so – like Jason – would go where she wanted.
I love interesting meals, so I would probably go to more restaurants and experiment with more recipes.
In the end I suspect I would do what I always do: read more books.
What inspires you to write?
Someone once suggested that I am afraid there are not enough words in the world to last out my life, so I might be making sure future generations do not need to worry.
Also, my unconscious likes sticking unrelated things together, then sneaking them in when I am not concentrating on something. Combined with my lawyerly aspects, this means I am always full of speculations and what ifs. So I need to get some of them out to stop my head from overheating.
Who are your favourite authors?
A tricky question. I read over 250 books in 2013 and probably the same amount every year for the last several years; I might even have read more in the years I was taking the train to court hearings across the country three times a week. So I would have great difficulty narrowing down a list of authors whose works I really enjoy.
Although I read broadly in both fiction and non-fiction, my theme is vampirism; I would probably read even the most poorly-written book if it had a vampire plot. A close second to that are books with an occult conspiracy of some kind; although I do dislike endings which reveal the centuries-spanning plot actually has no paranormal aspect.
What are you currently reading?
Bitterblue by Kristin Cashore. It is set after a kingdom has been saved from an evil tyrant who could control people’s beliefs, so there is mundane conflict over how to spend limited time and resources combined with the problem that no one can be sure what the real country was like and who was forced to commit crimes. It is the last of my current batch from the library, so what I read next might well depend on what is in stock when I next go.
I am also reading The Writers and Artists Yearbook 2014. Some of it does not apply at the moment, but I dislike leading parts of books unread. I am planning to take a break from writing guides after that to try out the ideas I have already gleaned.
Any more writing projects in the works? Or other anthologies?
I finished the first draft of a novel in November, so I intend to edit that in the start of 2014; I will probably query agents and publishers for that, but might decide to author-publish if I cannot find it a home.
I started outlining a fantasy story (it is not advanced enough for me to judge length yet) in December and I am part way through the first draft of a paranormal romance novella, so they will probably be my new projects for the start of 2014.
I have several shorter stories that have already been published on obscure sites or in small open competitions, so will not be attractive to most markets. I have been considering releasing them as a collection once there are enough to make a reasonable length. Depending on how fast I write short stories in 2014 that might happen sooner.
As I have enjoyed publishing Fauxpocalypse (and am very hopeful that getting the print version out will not be horrific), I would definitely not rule out another multi-contributor project. I am deliberately not making any firm plans just yet though.
How can readers connect with you?
I blog about writing, philosophy, and the absurdities of life, along with a weekly book review, at Davetopia (davidjhiggins.wordpress.com).
For anyone interested in the vast quantity of books I devour every year, I am on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7578889.Dave_Higgins).
Thank you David, it has been a pleasure talking to you.