While indie author David Arrowsmith has always written in one form or another, he completed his first pure piece of literary fiction entitled ‘The Last Storm’ in the autumn of 2017. Speaking to the Literary Express in an exclusive interaction, the forty-one-year-old author, who dwells in South London with his wife and daughter, says he is inspired by his love of writers like Cormac McCarthy, Elmore Leonard, James Ellroy, Chester Himes, John Le Carre, Don DeLillo, JG Ballard, Martin Cruz Smith, Lee Child, Philip Kerr, and Raymond Chandler.
‘I adore them for their blend of pace and plot with brilliant characters and atmospheric locations. I also love the exoticism and descriptive power of authors like Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Michael Ondaatje and Romesh Gunesekara,’ explains the half-Colombian with a first-class degree in English Literature and a Masters in Scriptwriting, adding, ‘And finally, I’m also hugely influenced by non-literary media – film, TV drama, video games and music – everything from Pulp Fiction, True Romance and Fargo to Red Dead Redemption 2 and Johnny Cash.’
Intertwined Tales of Greed and Temptation
Talking about Nevada Noir, his first published work of fiction, the author says it all began with a trip he took in early 2017 to Las Vegas with his wife. ‘We’d hired a jeep and driven around Nevada and into Utah, then after a few days headed off for Los Angeles and then up the California coast to finish at San Francisco. ‘Something must have rubbed off on me during this American road trip, as just over six months later, at home in South East London, I awoke with a scene playing out in my head – of an old man in a shack in the dusty badlands, as a storm breaks over the land,’ he explains, letting us know that he immediately began to write the scene down on his phone – first in the shower and then on his commute to work in central London. ‘A few weeks later, I completed The Last Storm. Not long after I had the idea to continue this story with a second short tale – and wrote One Good Deed,’ he adds.
Real life, however, got in the way, and Mr Arrowsmith’s writing took a back seat until the Autumn of 2019 when he came up with a third part entitled ‘A Slow Death’ besides the idea of creating the trilogy. ‘When this was written, I found I had three interconnected stories that worked perfectly as a trio, in a kind of novelette. With the advent of Covid-19 and the coronavirus lockdown, I decided to take the plunge and publish the trilogy as Nevada Noir,’ he says.
The author tells us that Nevada Noir is a dark, atmospheric trilogy of intertwined tales of greed and temptation in the Nevada badlands. ‘In these three dark and brooding short stories, set in and around the US state of Nevada, a cast of disparate characters struggle with greed and temptation and the cursed lure of easy money. An old man goes in search of his son in the aftermath of a terrible storm, a couple down on their luck make a life-changing discovery, and an ex-cop has one last impossible decision to make,’ he explains, adding, ‘It’s an action-packed meditation on death, temptation and flawed humanity.’
‘Wanted to Know People Liked What I’d Written’
On being asked if he tends to fly by the seat of pants, Mr Arrowsmith, who tends to write in the afternoon or after dinner when his two-year-daughter is asleep, lets us know that as far as Nevada Noir is concerned, he started writing with only the very first scene of the first story in his mind. ‘As I wrote, the story evolved – both directly in the manuscript but also in notes taken on my phone when I spontaneously had ideas about how it might go. I planned elements of the second and third tales – but ultimately I only really did simple and basic outlines and tended to let the characters and the settings shape the story as I wrote,’ he elaborates.
Clarifying that becoming an author was not a conscious decision he made, the author emphasises that he has always written, only this time it was different. ‘I needed to get these stories written and finished. And when that was done, I realised I had something quite good, that I was proud of and was keen to see if other people might enjoy,’ he tells us. ‘But it was quite impulsive to publish – it just seemed like the right time, and the right way to do it. I just wanted feedback – wanted to know people did like what I had written,’ he adds with a smile.
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A Lover of Videos Games and Cinema
While the author does concede that juggling tasks is a herculean task, he tells us that his priorities are his day job (working in documentary television) and his family. ‘So I fit writing in around that as best I can. After that comes cooking and eating, reading, watching TV dramas, playing video and board games and a smattering of socialising. I love the cinema but haven’t been much with the lockdown. I also still play football when I can. My wife and I both love to hike out into the countryside when we can too,’ he shares with us.
No Time to ‘Spare’
Speaking about his work in progress, the author says he is nearly finished with the first draft of what he hopes will be his first full-length novel. ‘It’s a dark dystopian fiction tale set in South East London in 2021 and owes a debt to the Ballardian novels of JG Ballard and other dystopian novels like Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. When I’ve finished this draft, I plan to put it aside for a bit while I return to Nevada to write a prequel trilogy, and also possibly a postquel trilogy – and then I will see if these might combine with the current version of Nevada Noir to form a new full-length novel too,’ he tells us.
‘I also have three more noir trilogy ideas in mind, each set in a different exotic location that means something to me. And finally, I’ve also submitted the first chapter of a new Scandi noir novel idea to a competition. If I win, I will be co-writing it with a Swedish crime fiction author, and if not, I think I will complete it on my own,’ he explains. He then adds, ‘All of this I am currently planning to do in my spare time – but I’d love to make the leap to become a full-time professional author in the future.’
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The Final Word
And does he have anything to say to budding authors who lose motivation if their works don’t do well? ‘Well, that’s hard for me to say,’ states the author, ‘as I’m relatively new to being an author myself, and only have one published work.’ He, nonetheless, stresses that history is full of examples of artists, ideas and works of art that took time to be appreciated or discovered. ‘Just because one piece of work isn’t initially well-received doesn’t mean tastes won’t change, or that your next work won’t break through. Ultimately though, you have to do it for yourself. If you’re proud of it then that is doing well.
On the question of whether there exists a thing that he would definitely want to be changed in the world, Mr Arrowsmith, who can also speak a decent amount of Spanish besides a smattering of Dutch as his wife hails from the Netherlands, says that rather than say world peace and sound like the cliched version of a 1970s beauty queen, he thinks he’d have to say he’d like the world to be a place that is full of empathy. ‘It seems to me that most of our problems are because too many people, often powerful people, don’t think about or care about other people. If we all did that, I don’t see how things wouldn’t be hugely improved for all of us,’ he declares, signing off.