Today I’m joined on the porch by an author who’s traveled all the way from England! That’s a long way to go for a glass of sweet tea, but I’m so glad he came. David K. Bryant is a peach of a guy, and I just couldn’t stop talking to him. His book, Tread Carefully On the Sea has a unique story behind it. We got so into our conversation that it turned into an interview. I’m no Katie Curic, but it was a fun visit. Let’s listen…
Can you tell me how you came to be an author? Has it been an easy or difficult journey?
It’s a journey I didn’t know I was going to make. I spent my career in journalism and public relations, writing reams of stuff for other people. During that time I made one attempt at a book, a pirate story. Many years later I read it to my young son. Then in about 2010 when he was in his twenties he asked to read it again. I was ashamed to give him the sub-standard original so I set about re-writing it. It became Tread Carefully on the Sea, which has now been published by Solstice. It’s my first published book – at the age of 68.
What motivates you as an author?
This should be a simple question to answer, but it’s got me stumped. Hoping not to sound trite, I think I want to produce something that people will enjoy. I want it to be good in terms of making sense, being exciting, having some originality and a believable set of characters. I think it’s important to create characters who readers can associate with, feel their emotions, understand their faults – and like.
How do you deal with rejection and setbacks as an author?
I think I can boast that I deal with them well. I approached 370 literary agents with Tread Carefully on the Sea. But I wasn’t going to give up until there was nobody left to try. Then I started sending to indie publishers who took direct submissions and Solstice took me on. God bless Mel Massey-Maroni (my editor-in-chief).
How do you deal with writer’s block?
While it’s very frustrating, I think you have to wait. All of a sudden when your mind is totally elsewhere, you’ll get an idea of how to continue your story. I think it’s worth always carrying a notepad around and writing down thoughts whenever they occur to you. And if you can’t write at that particular moment because you’re driving or something, then keep repeating the idea inside your head so you don’t forget it.
Do you have any motivational books or websites which you find useful from time to time?
I am so glad there is a thing called Wikipedia because it answers so many questions. Motivational books – The Odyssey, one of the oldest bits of literature around. It’s about a guy who spends ten years encountering all the dangers of reality and fantasy yet he never gives up.
Who has been the biggest influence upon your writing?
My dear brother Ray. He helped me get into journalism and he was an author himself. His main work was published in the 1980s and is still available from Amazon. It’s called Warriors of the Dragon Gold and is based on the Bayeux Tapestry. Ray died far too early.
Tell us about a typical day for you. Do you have any special routines which you strictly keep to?
I’m retired so my time is my own and a lot of it is spend hitting the keys I’m hitting now. I make a conscious effort not to leave my wife an ‘author widow’. But she’s very understanding and helpful with the books.
How have family and friends reacted to you as an author? Are they supportive?
Yes, they are supportive. They make constructive suggestions and have stopped me falling into a few traps.
Do you have a muse? If so, please could you tell us a little about him/her?
No, I don’t think so.
Going forwards as an author, what do you realistically hope to accomplish?
Recognition for being good. I’m not being conceited and saying I am good, but I would love the world to judge me so – and enjoy my work.
David, tell us about quickly about your book, since it is such a unique story….
I was seven years old or thereabouts and I walked round the garden reading Treasure Island. When I got to the bit about the musket and cutlass battle I was so engrossed I walked into a tree. I was proud of my bleeding nose – I imagined I got it in a fight with a pirate.
What intrigued me most about that classic book by Robert Louis Stevenson were all the references to Captain Flint, a pirate king who was brutal, intimidating and quite likely an alcoholic – yet obviously very clever.
Without Flint there would have been no Treasure Island for he was the man who had buried the Treasure on the Island. Yet in that book we hear about Flint only in reminiscences from some of the protagonists because Flint is dead by the time the story begins.
Stevenson’s narrative tells us Flint took six men ashore with him to stash the loot. But, having apparently murdered the others, only Flint came back to the ship, giving him the security of being the only man who knew where the cache was.
There had to be a story around that. For me, Flint deserved a biography of his own. What’s more, it should answer all those other questions posed by Treasure Island. If, as Stevenson tells us, Long John Silver had lost his leg in the same broadside as Old Pew lost his ‘deadlights’, what were the circumstances of that broadside? And how come that Billy Bones, the first mate, came into possession of Flint’s map where X marked the spot of the buried loot?
It’s taken me a long time but now I have supplied my own answers. I hope you enjoy them and I hope you identify with the experiences of the other characters I’ve created when you read Tread Carefully on the Sea.
Wow! Can’t wait to read that one. Thanks for coming all the way across the pond to join me on the porch today. It’s been a lot of fun.
You can find out more about David on my Porch Guests Page.
Happy Saturday to you all.