Dylan Alfredo Giovanni Butcher
Romelia: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
D. A. Butcher: I realized how passionate I was for writing in Primary school, around year 4, when writing poems. I enjoyed writing them so much and all the adults were amazed at how good they were, so I kept writing them. I had a special book just for my poetry.
Romelia: how long does it take you to write a book?
D. A. Butcher: My debut novel, Eyes of Sleeping Children, took 4 years to write. The bits that take the most time are the research of required material at the start, and then the editing and polishing process at the end! Now I’ve done it once, future books may not take so long, and others may take even longer, who knows? But I believe in only publishing the best of my abilities, the best level of quality, and that takes the most time.
Romelia: where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
D. A. Butcher: Inspiration, which comes in many forms. For my debut, my daughter who was 11 at the time inspired me when she asked me to write a short story about a monster under the bed. Then, she and her twin sister inspired the setting as they were studying the Dust Bowl at school. But I get inspiration from books, movies and even life all the time.
Romelia: what literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
D. A. Butcher: When I was seventeen, I went to a lot of warehouse raves and squat parties. I done so many mind altering drugs that I forgot who I was for a time. It was terrifying. But I always had a pen and paper to hand and continued to write poems and rap lyrics, which kept me grounded.
Romelia: what is the first book that made you cry?
D. A. Butcher: Probably Our Endless Numbered Days, by Claire Fuller. The realisation and effect on the main character was overwhelming and I welled up – no spoilers!
Romelia: what is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
D. A. Butcher: Unknown authors not getting a fair shot in the industry, and people who charge for reviews.
Romelia: does writing energize or exhaust you?
D. A. Butcher: Both. Often.
Romelia: what are common traps for aspiring writers?
D. A. Butcher: Procrastination is probably the biggest obstacle to overcome for most writers. You’ve got to just sit down and let the ink flow and make the prose happen! It’s not as daunting once you’ve got going.
Romelia: does a big ego help or hurt writers?
D. A. Butcher: I would say a big ego is damaging. It shows in your writing (don’t think that it won’t!), and as the famous saying goes, you must know how to murder your darlings! That is, be able to cut out the bits YOU might think are spectacular, but actually they don’t serve the narrative at all… Sit down. Be humble.
Romelia: what is your writing Kryptonite?
D. A. Butcher: Romance. Definitely romance. Even the word scares the hell out of me. Who knows, I might overcome it one day…
Romelia: have you ever gotten reader’s block?
D. A. Butcher: I don’t believe in writers or readers block, only procrastination. We can only stop ourselves from flowing and must learn to overcome it and just do it!
Romelia: did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
D. A. Butcher: Yes, but I decided against it, and am so glad that I did! Pseudonym’s should only be used if absolutely necessary… like back in times when women writer’s were frowned upon for instance so, like George Eliot (a woman), they felt they had to pretend to be male writers.
Romelia: do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
D. A. Butcher: I like to think both, but I definitely lean more towards making my work original. However, I always write with the reader in mind and make it as entertaining as possible for them.
Romelia: do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
D. A. Butcher: Of course! Anyone can be a writer. You don’t necessarily have to feel strongly, but you do have to be able to observe emotion in others in order to accurately describe it in your writing.
Romelia: what other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
D. A. Butcher: I met Anthony Lowery on a writing course when we lived (briefly) in Milton Keynes. He has written, cast and directed plays, is self-published on Amazon, and works in the film industry. He has been a kind of mentor to me over the years and always gives me a brutally honest critique – which I appreciate as I always want to better myself as a writer! Adam Bradley, the author of The Poetics of Hip Hop – and now a New York Times bestselling author for co-writing rapper Common’s autobiography – replied to one of my emails back when I was writing rap lyrics, and told me how good they were. This inspired me to keep writing no matter what. Adam Bradley and the great Alan Grant (writer of Batman and Judge Dredd comics) have now endorsed my debut novel!
Romelia: do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to buld a body of work with connections between each book?
D. A. Butcher: My first book was going to be a standalone, but I have plans for possible sequels now in the same universe. I am working on a book that draws from my own life experience of growing up in London that touches on some important issues in the world today, which will be a standalone novel. However, I am also working on a book series – a crossover of Gothic Horror and Contemporary Horror… so you will just have to wait and see! (Follow me on Amazon, Goodreads and Instagram for updates).
Romelia: if you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
D. A. Butcher: I would tell him to straighten himself out and start writing fiction now!
Romelia: how did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
D. A. Butcher: I self-published my first book with Amazon. I learned a lot from writing my first full-length novel and like to think I am avoiding some of the pitfalls I encountered the first time round in my future works. I also want to write a book series and write more suspense and horror fiction, as it seems to be what my readers like about my first book. And I aim to please. I think the biggest thing that has changed is the fact I now want to write a book series.
Romelia: what was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
D. A. Butcher: New books and Competition entries. Even when I don’t win! It’s all about the participation – Stephen King had thousands of rejection slips that he posted all over the place to remind him to keep writing!
Romelia: what authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
D. A. Butcher: I only dislike a bad quality of writing, never an author, so if an author writes really badly then I don’t tend to grow into them, only find more reasons to dislike their writing.
Romelia: what did you do with your first advance?
D. A. Butcher: Still waiting patiently for that first advance… I’m still a struggling Indie author, in more debt than profit!
Romelia: what was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
D. A. Butcher: I wrote a mother’s day poem for my mum in primary school and it made her cry. The school asked me to get up in church and read it out and I was too scared to do it. I still regret not doing it, but have learned since that it can be rewarding to step out of my comfort zones. Also when I started writing rap lyrics in secondary school as it helped get me through the hard times. Writing literally saved my life.
Romelia: what are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
D. A. Butcher: Writing Magazine and Writer’s Forum. And enter as many competitions as you can to improve your writing skills!
Romelia: from where you get inspired with your first book?
D. A. Butcher: As above, my daughter Ruby inspired my novel. It may not be the short story she asked for, but I believe it something much greater. So of course, the book is dedicated to her.
Romelia: describe yourself in a few sentences. Tell us something we do not know about you and something you hate about the world.
D. A. Butcher: I am 35 years old, married with three children. I am half Italian, half British, and was born and raised in North-West London. My dad took me to the theatre a lot growing up and we always went to Art Galleries and Museums in the city. I understood culture from a young age and my mum is an artist, like others on the Italian side of my family. My dad was a music journalist for many years. I’ve always been creative and decided to focus on my writing in my twenties. I am a huge film buff and the way films are directed influences my writing as much as the books I read (mostly thrillers and horror, literary and crime fiction). I have Fibromyalgia and conditions of the spine which affect my mobility and ability to function daily. I was bullied for being different throughout high school and it made me suicidal for a time. I suffer with anxiety and depression to this day. I got into a lot of trouble with the police later in my teens and was doing drugs and basically going off the rails, so I moved to Margate to live with my nan to find some peace of mind and straighten-up. I met my partner while working as a chef and we later got married and moved to the Midlands where we now reside. I am currently studying with the Open University for my master’s degree in English Literature and Creative Writing while self-publishing, raising a family and trying to cope with frequent bouts of chronic pain.
I hate politics, war and pig-headed people who think they know better than everyone else! (basically Donald Trump – tick, tick and tick!)