A group of published UK-based authors and illustrators of picture books, children's and YA.
Until I was a teenager, I didn’t know I wanted to be a writer. I loved stories. I loved reading and I loved watching films, but I didn’t know I wanted to write. More than anything, I wanted to be Han Solo. For obvious reasons. I mean, he’s the coolest guy in the galaxy – this one or any other.
When I was about fourteen, though, I was alone in the Junior Hall in my boarding house, sitting on the ancient, raggedy sofa that smelled of stale milk, drinking tea and eating a toastie. I don’t know why I was alone or where everyone else was. Maybe I wasn’t alone – maybe it’s just my memory playing tricks on me – but I picked up a copy of The Shining, and from that moment I was alone. Stephen King had opened a door for me. He led me into a twisted world where something as ordinary as a wasp’s nest could raise the hairs on the back of my neck.
I expect this is true of many writers from my generation. Stephen King was a huge influence. He was everywhere, and his writing was so open. So inclusive. So welcoming. So involving. I’d always had an interest in the macabre, but reading Stephen King was like being grabbed by the scruff of the neck and dragged into the darkness. My love of all things grim and gruesome went into overdrive, and the 80’s was the perfect time for that. Salem’s Lot, Pet Sematary, Christine, The Dead Zone. Clive Barker was just getting started, Fangoria magazine was on the shelves . . . and those films! The Evil Dead, The Thing, The Fly, Hellraiser, and all the gory zombie films you could ever hope for. But, more importantly, I wanted to write like that. Like him. Like the King.
I just didn’t know how.
Seventeen years old and I started to try. I wrote angst-riddled horror stories about monstrous people. Everything had a twist and there was always death. But life got in the way for me and writing fell to one side for a while, and when I came back to it, I was more settled and less filled with teenage anguish.
The first novel I ever wrote was a children’s story. It was rubbish, of course, and remains confined to the bottom drawer. The second novel I wrote was a crime novel. It wasn’t quite so rubbish, but it also remains in the bottom drawer alongside the other castaways. But they had been my practice novels, and so began my split personality when it came to writing. I wanted to do both. I wanted to have my cake and eat it.
So now I write both. Crime thrillers and books for younger readers.
One thing remains the same, though; there is always death.
Growing up, Dan Smith led three lives. In one he survived the day-to-day humdrum of boarding school, while in another he travelled the world, finding adventure in the padi-fields of South East Asia and the jungles of Brazil. But the third life he lived in a world of his own, making up stories . . . which is where some people say he still lives most of the time!
Now settled in Newcastle with his wife and two children, Dan writes his stories to share with both adults and children. Continue reading…
BOOKS: MY FRIEND THE ENEMY | MY BROTHER’S SECRET