Interview with David Rawding

Author of Taking on Water and Redemption Grove

All my life, I’ve dreamed of being a published author. I’ve imagined how it would feel to hold my book in my hands, do public book signings, and have my thoughts pumped out into the world. I’m still hoping to get that novel published one day, but you know what? Along the way, I am meeting some fascinating people! Author David Rawding is one cool cat, I must say! I found myself so entertained by his answers, that I almost felt as though I was reading a book, rather than just responses to my interview questions.

Rawding, a New England native, has traversed the country, picking up and relocating to far-off lands in search of adventure (and no doubt material for future novels). He’s lived in Alaska, South Carolina, Montana, and many other places where not only the zip codes are different, but the cultures, the food, and the deeply textured experiences he’s amassed along the journey.

His novels, Taking on Water and Redemption Grove, explore serious issues such as addiction and abuse, which have resonated with his readership in meaningful ways. Fans of the books have approached Rawding, sharing their own stories of addiction, recovery, and family struggles, saying the books spoke to them in a significant, personal way.

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I’ll get to the interview in a moment, but one more really interesting thing about David Rawding (and I’m limiting it for time, but there are many) is that he has not one, but two YouTube channels, Writing Escapades with David Rawding and  Day Off with David Rawding. The first, is a great platform for writers to glean insights on the writing process, hear from fellow authors, and gather interesting writing prompts. If you’re not subscribed, I highly recommend it! The second, is new, and it’s going to have more personal, adventurous content such as going along with Rawding on his flyfishing and kayaking excursions. I think we all want to know more about our favorite writers, what they think, how they spend their free time, and these channels are the perfect place to see what makes this author tick!

I hope you’ll enjoy this interview as much as I did because it really was one of the cooler one’s I’ve had the pleasure of doing! Now, author David Rawding…

L.A. Can you introduce yourself to my subscribers? I’m sure they’d like to know where you’re from, how long you’ve been writing, and what you enjoy doing in your free time!

D.R. I sure can! Hi, my name’s David Rawding and I’m from New Hampshire. Over the last decade, I’ve lived all over the United States. I would simply pack up my belongings in my car and move to states like: Montana, Colorado, Alaska, and South Carolina. I also backpacked to over 30 countries in that time. Like Bilbo Baggins, after many adventures, I came back to The Shire. Life’s funny that way. As far as writing goes, as a kid I was a reader, but in middle school I began to create stories of my own. Writing, like reading, has always been an escape. I didn’t take writing seriously until college. Currently, I read and write more than ever.

In my free time, I flyfish, travel, go free diving, hike, and I recently created two YouTube channels and a podcast. The literary channel is called “Writing Escapades with David Rawding” which has writing advice, original fiction, and author interviews. The other channel is called “Day Off with David Rawding” and it covers the fishing, hiking, boating, and adventures I get into in my free time. I’m having a blast making these videos and connecting with people.

L.A. Did you have a career before writing? If so, what was it, and at what point did you transition over to writing full-time?

D.R. Writing is not a full-time career for me—yet. I’m working on it, but I’ve always had jobs in conjunction with writing. I would love to get to the point where my books paid all my bills, but I need to keep at it and keep churning out books. One day though…one day. As far as jobs, I’ve had tons. Here are a few: housekeeper, valet, behavioral security tech, Alaskan fly-fishing guide, salesman, EMT/Firefighter, data entry specialist, English professor, copywriter…it’s a long list and I don’t want to bore your readers.

L.A. How many books have you published so far? Also, how old were you when you wrote the first book?

D.R. I’ve published two novels and a children’s book. I was 29 when I published my first novel. I wanted to be published before I was 30 and I hit that goal. Both my books are in the Thriller/Suspense genre. Taking on Water is set in a small New England fishing town and Redemption Grove is set in remote Alaska. I’ve spent plenty of time in both places. I’m very proud of my books.

L.A. Have you ever written a manuscript that didn’t translate into a finished novel?

D.R. I have not. I’m totally aware that this happens for writers, but I have been lucky in that my stories (so far) have been malleable enough to become publishable novels. I have plenty of half-drawn story ideas ready to be written and I’m confident that when those ideas get my attention, I’ll be able to turn them into books.

L.A. Can you talk a little about your writing process? (Do you write at the same time each day? Where do you do your writing? How long does it take you to complete a book?).

D.R. I wish I could keep a constant schedule, but I don’t. I do write several times a week every week and my writing group “The Seacoast Writers Guild” really helps keep me motivated and with constant feedback. They are some good dudes and they’ve helped me a ton with my current manuscripts. My best piece of advice to any author out there is to join a writing group. It’s very helpful to have readers giving you feedback as you write.

As far as my locale, I write on my laptop in my room with some background music. Occasionally, I’ll write at a coffee shop or bar, but I do my best work at home with less distractions. My first book took six years to write. My second took three years. I’m getting faster; however, I’m trying a new tactic and looking to finish two manuscripts simultaneously this time around. I want to have two books to help me land an agent and big publisher. I’m also switching genres. My first two books were Thriller/Suspense novels and the next two are going to be Urban Fantasy.

(On writing…) “It’s like time traveling because you’ll blink your eyes and realize five hours have gone by.”

~David Rawding

L.A. Do you write with music, or do you need it quiet while you work?

D.R. I like to have calm music in the background, but I can do quiet as well. When I’m really into a writing session, the real world seems to blur, and my fictional world comes into focus. It’s like time traveling because you’ll blink your eyes and realize five hours have gone by.

L.A. Do you outline your stories before you begin writing them?

D.R. In the world of plotters, pantsers, and plantsers, I am probably a plantser. I write mostly by the seat of my pants, but I do some rough outlines and plotting. I don’t ever feel bound to an outline though. I find that having plot points scratched out ahead of time helps, but I like to let the story grow naturally.

“It really does feel good to hold your book in your hands for the first time.”

~David Rawding

L.A. Do you have a test reader(s) such as a spouse or friend that reads your work along the way? Or do you write the whole thing and then show it around? Details here would be awesome!

D.R. As I mentioned previously, I have the fellow writers in my writing group reading along the way as I’m writing. They help me tremendously. I’m fine to show my work to fellow writers, but friends and family must wait until it’s published. I have some other writing friends that are kind enough to be beta readers and I am eternally grateful when someone offers to be a beta reader for my work. As I often say, “Feedback is gold!” It really is.

L.A. Can you discuss what it was like getting published for the first time?

D.R. Absolutely! It was a fantastic feeling. The editing process is kind of grueling so just being done, that is a load off. It really does feel good to hold your book in your hands for the first time. Friends and family will buy your books and support you. After that, though, the reality starts to set in. Whether you’re a big or small author, you need to market your book. You need to chase down reviews and book blurbs. You need to find your way onto YouTube channels and podcasts like mine. The success of your book really lies in your hustle and drive. The authors I know that routinely hit the bestseller lists hustle their butts off. They take writing and marketing seriously and are networking ninjas.

L.A. How do you handle negative reviews and general criticism of your writing?

D.R. Good question! When I was new, I used to read them and feel bad. Then, at some point, I became numb to it. Now, I’m happy for anyone that rates or reviews my books no matter the star value or the criticism. It turns out, with booksellers like Amazon, the more reviews the better. The sheer number of reviews is hugely important as you’ll get more exposure when that number gets higher. I hung up my insecurities and I’m completely pragmatic about it now.

When people ask me about negative Amazon reviews, I come up with an example for them. So, if you were to sell a hammer on Amazon and the hammer was functional and worked, you’d still get one-star reviews. They could be anything from “The grip feels weird, I like the older model’s grip better,” or “Mine came chipped, they didn’t package it well,” or “I like my cheaper hammer more than this expensive hunk of metal.” But, as long as your product works and is functional, it seems to usually get three, four, or five-star reviews on the majority. Bad reviews also lend validity to your product. The product that doesn’t have any bad reviews is a lot more suspicious to me than one that has a few bad reviews. Lastly, reading is subjective. I often don’t love a book that everyone seems to love. We all have different tastes and that means that you’ll get good and bad reviews. Don’t sweat the reviews. Just try your best to put out a quality product that works and try to make that number of reviews get higher. It really helps.

L.A. What is it like connecting with your readers and hearing how your stories have impacted their lives in a positive way?

D.R. I write dark stuff and I often include adult themes like addiction, abuse, and violence. I don’t do this for shock-value, I use these themes to shed light on these issues and humanity. Often, I’ll hear from readers that may have some experience with these sorts of themes and they’ll share a bit of their own story with me. Honestly, it’s amazing that someone would feel comfortable sharing personal information to a random dude on the internet, but I always thank them for sharing and hope that my books were able to show them the human side of these issues. That’s what I’m after. I want to share human stories in a fictional setting. I want it to feel real because the truth in fiction is a powerful tool.

L.A. What advice would you give to someone who has writing ability, but is stuck in fear and can’t go the distance with a full-length manuscript?

D.R. I’ll bring it up again because it really is my best advice: join a writing group. It doesn’t matter if you’re a new or a veteran writer. Find yourself a good writing group and these fellow writers will keep you motivated. They’ll give you confidence and be your cheerleaders. They’ll even add some friendly competition. Writers are competitive creatures sometimes. The writers in your writing group will help you land that plane, and they’ll clap the loudest when you get the wheels on the ground.

The best writing advice I was given was to dig deeper into my characters. Even if it’s only a minor character, it helps to put yourself in their shoes and understand their thoughts and motivations. As an aside, these interview questions are the same types of questions I pose on my “Writing Escapades with David Rawding” YouTube channel. Kind of perfect that I’m getting the chance to answer them today.

L.A. What are you currently working on?

D.R. I’m working on two urban fantasy novels. I have one first draft finished and set aside and I’m about 35% into my next manuscript. These will be standalone books. I want to have two finished manuscripts to bring to market—hopefully by the end of this year. I would love to get some more readers and reviewers for my most-recent novel Redemption Grove. I may be biased, but I think that this wilderness suspense novel set in Alaska might be just what you’re looking for, but again, I am biased. Also, my YouTube channel and podcast “Writing Escapades with David Rawding” could always use some more subscribers. Okay, enough shameless self-promotion. See that hustle I was talking about earlier? It becomes normal.

L.A. What books/tools did you use to learn the science of story development?

D.R. My BA in English from the University of New Hampshire and my MFA in Fiction from Southern New Hampshire University gave me a strong foundation. I learned so much from the professors—especially the faculty mentors in my MFA program. Additionally, no surprise here, but the fellow writers in my writing groups really helped my writing. Lastly, craft books have aided me in understanding how to design my fiction. The craft book Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and Dave King should be on every fiction writer’s bookshelf in my opinion.

L.A. What is your favorite book, and why?

D.R. Saved the toughest question for last, eh? I will have to dance around this one a bit. You know what? I’m just going to break this “favorite book” rule and rattle off a bunch that I love and often reread. The Wheel of Time series is fantastic, and I’ve picked these books up multiple times over the years. J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit is a masterpiece. I love Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law series as he isn’t afraid to put his characters through brutal conditions. Some early influences would be Where the Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls, The Giver by Lois Lowry, and The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks. These books showed me the adventure of exploring new worlds. I’ll end it with my favorite recent book which was The Island of Sea Women by Lisa See. It’s a great story that paints the history of these incredibly strong women on the other side of the planet.

A big thank you to David Rawding, Writer/Adventure-Seeker/YouTuber/Flyfisher/Writing Instructor/Nomad…you get the point! From what I can see, the guy does it all and is pretty fabulous at it! Thanks, David! You’re someone we can all learn a lot from, and I look forward to seeing what’s coming down the pike from you in the upcoming months and years!

Learn more about author David Rawding on Twitter,  Instagram, and on his website, along with his two YouTube channels and his Amazon author page that are all linked above.

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