Archive for David Dunwoody


Posted in A Writer's Journey with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 7, 2011 by brandonlayng


The Books that Started it ALL

I won’t say it’s true for all writers (exception to every rule and all that jazz) but most writers can pinpoint a single book as the one that inspired them to write. I’ve heard all kinds of inspiration stories from my friends and peers. Children’s book writers wanting to capture the joy of hearing Dr. Suess read to them as a youngling. Horror writers hiding under the covers terrifying themselves with their first scary book. Or the writer so unimpressed with a horribly written book they are inspired to write something better.

We all have a story about the first book that made us want to write. More often than not, those same books have an influence on what we write. And it seems that for authors who write in certain genres, they can often share the same book or writer as their initial influence.

I credit a few books and writers on changing the course of my journey to becoming a full-time writer. But the one that made me say, “I want to be a writer”, is No Change, Please by Gordon Korman. Korman will probably be familiar to Canadians more than Americans or UK readers. Korman began his writing career at a very young age, barely into his teens he began with his Bruno & Boots books. The first in the series was This Can’t Be Happening at Macdonald Hall! begun during a semester in the 7th grade. His English teacher encouraged him to finish the book, which was published by Scholastic along with many of his 55 books that followed.

My grade 5 teacher was reading No Change, Please to the class and explained to us how Korman started his journey to the book we were hearing. That was the moment. Right there. Being told that a kid roughly the same age as me had written a book and had it published, inspired me to try and do the same. Well, I didn’t. I wasn’t published until I was in grade 8 and it was a short story in the photocopied school newspaper. I followed that up with a few poems in different issues of that paper and a couple more short stories and poems in highschool Writers’ Guild anthologies.

But I’d been bitten by the bug.

For this part of A Writer’s Journey, I decided to ask some of my peers to share their stories about the book that inspired them to write. They were all asked the same question and I was amazed by their responses. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Maybe you’ll find a book in their answers that will inspire you to write your own book. Or possibly you’ll take the time and read something by the authors themselves and find that spark you’re looking for.


Zoe E. Whitten


The first book to make me want to be a writer was Stephen King’s It. His characters were so real, and I wanted to create people just as flawed and believable.


David Dunwoody


I think I’ve wanted to write since I was 10 or so. Around that time I wrote a story called “The Lost Souls” (recently updated as the novella “Lost Souls” for THE UNDEAD: HEADSHOT QUARTET). At that time I was reading Louis Sachar and Roald Dahl, but I don’t believe they were as much of a direct inspiration as what I wasn’t allowed to read – the King books in my parents’ bookshelf, books my older sister had told me about and at which I sneaked peeks whenever I was home alone. It was more than likely IT that did it for me, as that’s the only one I can recall with clarity. I didn’t read the entire novel until I was in my twenties, and it is one of my favorite books today, if not my #1. As a kid, I think the mystique and taboo of the book was as affecting as what I actually glimpsed in its pages (and what I did glimpse was wonderful and scary and definitely left an impression). Between its title – emblazoned in giant blood-red letters on the hardcover – and the fact I wasn’t supposed to be anywhere near it, the book took on a mythic quality which only drew me more to it and to that genre. I really do have my parents to thank for getting me into writing horror. I don’t think they’d take that too hard.


Mark Leslie (Lefebvre)


Wow. That’s a tough one. When I first heard the question I thought, oh, cool question – now what book was it for me? And then I realized that I couldn’t be 100% sure. Why? Because I’m pretty sure I wanted to become a writer long before I actually started typing out stories on my typewriter which was in my early teens. Of course, it was many years after when I started sending my stories out to publishers (which is often what I think about when I think about becoming a writer). But to be true to wanting to become a writer, it goes back even earlier than my teen years, it goes back to even before I wrote long prose tales. When I was a boy, I loved to draw cartoons; to tell stories via a combination of words and images. Before that, I remember creating epic adventures with either my Lego figures or my Fisher Price figures, compiling long complex plot adventures that would last weeks in short episodic segments.
And throughout all that time, there were a lot of books I read, many of which likely provided me inspiration to want to tell my own tales, produce my own stories.

So, nailing down a specific single book that inspired me to become a writer is a challenge indeed. I mean, if I go back far enough, it was likely a comic book (likely a poignany story told by Stan Lee about a young outcast teenager with the proportional strength, speed and agility of a spider) that inspired me to want to write my own tales. Later on in my childhood, it might have been one of Lester del Rey’s novels such as Marooned on Mars or Tunnel Through Time. In my early teens, there were books such as George R. Stewart’s Earth Abides that I remember enjoying so much and wanting to write my own post-apocalyptic tale.

And when I first pulled out my Mom’s Underwood typewriter and started seriously hammering out tales, Piers Anthony was a writer whose science fiction and fantasy novels I was avidly consuming. The use of my pseudonym of “Mark Leslie” was derived from reading about how this particular author’s full name was Piers Anthony Dillingham Jacob and he simply sliced off the extra names to get a “writer’s handle” that was easier to say and spell.

But in a nutshell, it might seem like a cop-out to the question, but it seems as if books have always inspired me to be a writer – and the books I read today continue to inspire me to write. When I was young and I read a tale that I marvelled at, that tickled my imagination, I would set forth and want to write my own story that would do the same thing for other readers. And when I write today, it’s not without that part of my mind that conjures up the feeling I get when I read a great story or book.


Amy Grech


When I was twelve, an aunt gave me a copy of Stephen King’s Pet Sematary. Being at a very impressionable age, I devoured the entire novel in one sitting! King’s haunting portrait of an All-American family facing evil sparked my imagination—that’s when I knew I wanted to become a writer!


I’d like to thank all of the writers for taking the time to answer.

I’ll be coming back to this question again. Hopefully you’ll join me for the second half of this part of A Writer’s Journey.

Until next time, keep writing!



Posted in Announcements, Free Fiction, News with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 21, 2010 by brandonlayng

I know it’s been a while since my last Announcements posting. Been tied up; bound with twist-tie ropes and gagged with fresh tampons soaked in pickle juice. Now that’s an image. As per usual I’ve compiled a brief set of postings of new material available from writers and publishers I’ve come to respect and trust to provide quality work. At the bottom, I’ll list a few of my own things available for your current consumption.

Ray Garton: Scissors a crazy psychological horror novel. The titular* theme of the book is disturbing to most men and though women may find it giggle-worthy at first will soon be shivering alongside their spouses as they read. Available from most bookstores. Read the Spine Busters’ review at

Order Scissors

Douglas Clegg: Neverland available now in most bookstores and online. I am currently reading this one and should have the review ready in the next week or so. Written in Clegg’s disturbing gothic ghost story style, this coming of age story revolves around summer vacation for a young boy and his siblings who are initiated into the mysteries of a rundown shack with its dark inhabitant who they come to worship. The volume itself is a beautiful work of publishing with astounding artwork inside. It’s affordably priced and worth the buy just to hold it in your hands. Clegg also has extra content on his site that enriches the reading experience. I encourage everyone to sign up for his newsletter. It’s a great way to get access to free e-books by this suspense master, as well as upcoming news, contests and games.

Order Neverland

Douglas Clegg’s Website:

Nate Kenyon: Sparrow Rock should be available by the time you read this. I’ve yet to be disappointed in anything I’ve read from Mr. Kenyon. Which means I can’t wait to get a copy of this one for myself. I want to learn what dark things lurk in the shadows of Sparrow Rock. Pick up a copy. It’ll be worth the read.

Order Sparrow Rock:

Jack Ketchum: According to his Twitter postings. Next month Leisure Books will be re-releasing Joyride with the novella Weed Species. Available now is his book, Cover, which you can find both online and at most bookstores.

Order Joyride/Weed Species

Order Cover

Tom Piccirilli/Shroud Publishing: All You Despise (Limited Edition Hardcover) this is a second printing of the rare collectible novella by noir horror talent Tom Piccirilli, whose witty and disturbing prose makes his work something entertaining and worth shivering over for days afterward. The print-run this time is only 50 signed copies with a foreword by Brian Keene and illustrations by Alex McVey.


David Dunwoody: Empire is now available at most bookstores in a slick Trade Paperback version. Just picked up my copy the other day and would be reading it already if Clegg’s Neverland hadn’t smelled so good. I’m excited to tear into it though and you should be too. It’s a great value for this volume.

Order through his site: 

Now onto me I guess.

Another of the Poppa M’s Bedlam Tales is up over at the New Bedlam E-zine. Head on over to to have a read and get into the season with a buggy tale called Spring Fever.

For those of you who need more bug love read my short story Can of Worms and many other crazy tales by a lovely bunch of people by picking up a copy of Courting Morpheus from Belfire Press It’s available in a gorgeous trade paperback at an affordable price. Other authors include: M.R. Sellars, Geoffrey Girard, Angela Gray, Louise Bohmer, Bruce Barber, Camille Alexa, Ann Tupek, Jeff Parish, Kevin J. Hurtack, Donna Shelton and David de Beer, edited by Jodi Lee with a foreword by Alethea Kontis.

FREE STUFF! I’m giving away free stuff for stalking me on Twitter (not actually stalking, that’s a crime, replace stalking with “following”). I’ve pledged myself with tweeting everyday until year end and I’m hoping to get to 666 Stalkers (followers) by that time. To say thank you to those already tracking my tweets and to those who want to start, I’m sending out pdf copies of my short story Movie Night which originally appeared in the Darkened Horizons: Halloween Special Edition. Plus if you recommend to a friend, you can get a second gift simply by having them DM me your name on Twitter. Movie Night is my ode to 80’s horror classics like A Nightmare on Elm St. But with my own twisted impression. You know you want it. Plus it’s easy to get.

Enough for now. New Announcements soon I hope.