There seems to be a lot of activity happening around the DarkVisions exhibition, starting next weekend, the 27th of September. But because I’m a few thousand miles away from this action I don’t have a large part in it! However I’m doing what I can, including this interview which my friend and co-writer Steve has posted on his ‘blog.
I haven’t actually posted my story on here yet, but will be doing so sometime during the exhibition. Here are my answers to the questions Steve put together.
Hi, I’m Dan Ladle.
In January of this year I moved from Nottingham to Perth in Australia. I have been married for eleven and a half years, have an eight year old cat, a four year old son, I’m a Type 1 Diabetic and come from a family of scientists and engineers. Most of my writing originates in the real world, then veers off into uncharted territories and distant fantastical realms. It keeps me off the streets!
The Universe we live in is approximately 13.77 billion years old. The Earth, a mere whipper snapper, is about 4.54 billion years, human beings have been here for the blink of an eye at less than 200,000 years. So my recent 40th birthday really isn’t anything to worry about!
2. Dan, you’ve used some of Rob’s photos to inspire your writing, can you tell us why you chose the ones you did?
I remember sitting in the café with Steve, having Rob show us through the collection of photographs he had taken for the DarkVisions portfolio. I was immediately inspired to write the story that you can see at the exhibition.
My Dad is a fisherman (you can check out his website at http://www.mikeladle.com), the images brought to mind the kind of landscapes I used to go fishing from with him when I was younger. Because of the “Dark” theme of the pictures I knew it couldn’t just be a fishing story though.
I wrote the story one photograph at a time, picking the pictures in what seemed like a chronologically pleasing order as I started each section. I wanted it to be like a photographic journal of the trip taken by my character.
3. Tell us about your writing style, are you a planner, an outliner, or a ‘by the seats of your pants’ writer?
In the words of Socrates, “it depends”! In the case of my short story I digested and prepared the idea in my head for a few days, then just started writing. However I did regret this at a couple of junctures through the story, I think a little more preparation would have allowed me to know exactly what to write next. As it was I just had to make it up as I went along.
In the case of the 100,000 word novel I wrote, called Jump (not currently available in any popular outlets, as it hasn’t been published!), I planned to the nth degree and had everything ready, so I didn’t need to “think” when I wrote. I used the Snowflake method, as devised by Randy Ingermanson. This involves starting with a one sentence summary of the entire story, then expanding and expanding until you’ve written a full length book. It worked very well for me.
4. What’s the name of your story?
The Dark Mark.
If you go fishing you’ll know what a “mark” is! For the rest of us, it refers to one of the spots that fishermen (and women) have named as a good place to cast from, in order to be relatively assured of some piscivorous action.
In the case of my Dad, when I was younger I remember him talking about places with mystifying names such as Pinder’s Corner or Dancing Ledge, which always seemed to have a magic about them, without needing any other kind of lyrical embroidery. Even though I’m not a fisherman myself, I still love the imagery that these places bring to mind and the number of stories that could start in them.
5. What’s your story about, does it have a theme?
The first time I saw the pictures I knew that my work had to be overwhelmed with pathos. Having made that decision I knew that every paragraph, every sentence…even a good deal of the individual words, had to be carefully picked to make the language fit with Rob’s amazingly emotive and evocative photographs.
From the start, my focus was on loneliness, despair and ultimately extinction, partly on a global basis, but also from the perspective of my subject who has very real and overwhelming personal feelings, about the animal he is trying to catch and its eventual demise.
6. Thinking about the DarkVisions exhibition how have you found the experience?
My work tends to err on the side of light-hearted, or at least has the occasional joke or Pun, thanks in part to my fondness for the great Mr Terry Pratchett. The Dark Mark was very different to anything I’d ever written before in that respect.
Because it was a bleak story, I had to find negative words and phrases for things that would normally be cheerful. You’d be amazed at just how many of the words you use on a daily basis are positive! Making the act of getting up in the morning seem like a depressing event is not so difficult, anyone who has a job will know that feeling, but making a fishing trip, a walk along a beach, or the act of smiling seem demoralising is a little harder.
7. As someone who not only juggles work, being married, a growing son…and living in a new country, when do you find time to write?
It can be tricky!
The saving grace being that writing is something you can do whenever you are sat in front of a computer, or a notepad, or even your phone. I write whatever and whenever I can and tend to get itchy fingers if I’m away from any stories, articles or ‘blogs for more than a day or two.
Ideas bounce around my head like particles accelerated by an internal, virtual, psychological, Large Hadron Collider and I have to get them out or my head would fill up with all the Higgs Bosons… Have I taken that metaphor too far? Perhaps!!!
8. Why do you prefer writing, as a creative hobby, compared to say photography?
Who said I do?
While I love writing and researching, I also play the guitar and sing, take and process photographs, create digital art, cook, read and a whole bunch of other things too numerous to mention, which all vie for my attention.
Sometimes writing wins, sometimes it doesn’t! However all of the other interests ultimately lend themselves to the craft and pastime of writing and help give more flavour and realism to my stories.
9. If people want to know more about you or your writing how can they get in contact?
Post a comment on my webpage (see question 10) and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. I’m always happy to discuss ideas or inspiration with people, or even just shoot the breeze about whatever is bouncing about in my cranium at the time.
10. Where can people download your short story and what format(s) is it available in?
To read this, and a whole bunch of other things I’ve written, please go to Dan Ladle’s Random Writings at https://ladlewritings.wordpress.com. Where you will find more information and links to some of my other works. You can also find links to some of my other websites and interests at Stalking Central.