Interview: Talking Paperbacks (and Pugs) with David Sodergren

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photo of author David Sodergren and his pug dog, Boris
David Sodergren and Boris

I have been a Night Worms customer for two years and on their review team for one. The Night Worms have opened up a new world for me and introduced me to some incredible indie publishers and authors. And somewhere in my travels through the world of indie horror, I found a real talent: David Sodergren.

I have read all of his books: Night Shoot, The Forgotten Island, Dead Girl Blues, and his newest, Maggie’s Grave. What did I think of them, you ask? Well, I gave every single book five stars. His words leap right off the page and take us on cinematic horror adventures. It’s a unique writing style that I can’t get enough of! His stories are always perfectly paced, with plenty of gore, highly addictive, and tremendously fun to read. Gore, violence, graphic, uncomfortable scenes—it’s all there, and whatever your comfort level is, I promise you won’t want to look away until you reach the end.

(Interview conducted by Janelle Janson)

CEMETERY DANCE: Thank you so much David for taking time out of your schedule to answer a few questions. Let’s get started! How are you doing? Things are so different now from last year – are you and your family holding up okay?

DAVID SODERGREN: We’re okay, thanks! It’s been an odd year, but I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you that.

Where are you from? Have you lived there your entire life?

I’m from Edinburgh, Scotland, and yes, I’ve always lived here. I almost moved to Hong Kong many years ago to teach English, but then I hurt my back and couldn’t go. It worked out perfectly though, because shortly after, I met my future wife!

I’ve read that you play and record music. Does music play a role in writing your books?

Where on Earth did you read that? It’s true, I have several albums recorded that no one will ever get to hear. Let’s just say I’m a better writer than musician…

Music plays a huge role in my writing—I’m not sure I could do it without listening to music. Before any project, I will create a writing playlist that suits the mood and tone of the piece. Often, listening to the music will conjure scenes in my head.

cover of Dead Girl Blues by David SodergrenWhat would you consider your darkest book?

Definitely Dead Girl Blues, which is about snuff movies. It’s not supernatural in any way, and is sometimes uncomfortably close to reality. When writing the book, I did a lot of research about snuff movies, which is not something I would recommend. A lot of the darkness seeped into that book, and while there is still some humor to stop the book toppling head-first into gloomy miserablism, it can be a rough ride.

What book did you have the most fun writing?

Maggie’s Grave. After Dead Girl Blues, I needed to write something a bit lighter, and so Maggie’s Grave was a return to crazy, imaginative horror, with plenty of humor and fun characters. Maggie herself was a blast to write. I guess I always empathize a little with my monsters.

In case not everyone is aware, your new book is Maggie’s Grave. Can you give us a brief description?

Maggie’s Grave is a blood-drenched folk horror story set in the Scottish Highlands. It’s a fun, fast-paced read involving rituals, ancient secrets, witches, and orgies. All the good stuff!

What kind of reader are you?

A slow one, haha.

How would you describe your writing style?

I’m not sure I’m the best person to answer this. I simply write the way I like to read, so there will never be long passages describing the way characters look, which I find wholly uninteresting. I also really enjoy ambiguity, and hate when things are rigorously over-explained. Basically, I just cut out all the stuff I don’t like in other books, and what’s left is my writing style!

Do you have any Easter eggs or secrets in your books that a reader might not notice?

There is at least one pug in every one of my books. Also, while I don’t generally care about “shared universes” between my books, there is a pretty explicit reference to Night Shoot in Dead Girl Blues that I’m not sure if anyone has noticed. If they have, they’ve not told me!

Oh my goodness, a pug in every book is too perfect. Okay next question…Do you write full time or have another career?

I work full time in a day job, and write on evenings and my days off, so most of the time I work seven days a week, which is why I took the whole month of October off from writing after publishing two books in seven months!

What books influenced you as kid?

Point Horror and The Hardy Boys when I was very young, but I started reading Stephen King when I was about eight or nine, and never looked back.

Who are your favorite authors?

Stephen King, of course, but one of my favorites growing up was (and still is) Shaun Hutson, a British splatter-horror author. His books were sleazy and nasty and violent, and their influence on my work can definitely be felt.

Why is horror your favorite genre?

I don’t have a choice. I’ve been obsessed with horror for as long as I can remember. There’s just something in me that craves the darkness. It’s in the blood!

cover of Spawn by Shaun HutsonWhat is a book you always recommend?

Shaun Hutson’s Spawn. It’s about a mental institute, a serial killer, a disfigured young man, and an army of sentient and murderous aborted fetuses.

Ooo, I’m definitely going to look up Spawn! I noticed early on that we were unofficial Bookstagram buddies. When did you start your Instagram account? Did it start out just sharing what you read or was there forethought to use it for your writing career?

I can’t actually remember how long I’ve had it. Five years or so? It was just to share photos of my horror paperback collection, and then it took off when I started including my pug Boris in the photos. Can’t imagine why…

Boris is ADORABLE and he’s basically famous. I love that he’s a part of your Instagram page. Are pugs your favorite dogs?

I love all dogs, but yes, pugs are my favourite. I just love them so much!

I have to ask, do you also like cats? Or are you solely a dog person?

No, I like cats too, but dogs are the best, which will be the most divisive, controversial answer in the whole interview.

Favorite book you’ve read in 2020?

cover of Maggie's Grave by David SodergrenI’ve not read too many this year, as I’ve written so much, but my favorite so far is probably The Blood Beast Mutations by Carl John Lee. It’s a wild and funny ride, and features the best death-of-a-certain-US-president-by-murder-hornets scene I’ve ever read.

Now for the inevitable question: what are you working on now? Anything you want to tell your anxious fans? We love announcements!

Plenty more coming next year! There’s a horror western I’ve co-authored with Canadian author Steve Stred, and another solo book that should be dropping around Christmas next year. Put it this way, if it’s not out in time for December 2021, it’ll have to wait until December 2022.

Oh, that’s so exciting! Besides 2020 coming to an end, that’s the most awesome news! Thanks again for your time, David. I wish you well in your future endeavors and hope you enjoy the rest of your time off from writing.

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