D. E. McCluskey talks about Butterflies and Z: A Love Story
David is a Liverpool based author who works in the IT industry when not writing. He lives at home with his partner and daughters. He has numerous interests including football, film, listening to live music and playing in a band. He is also a local stand-up comedian and can be found working the north-west comedy scene, winning a few competitions in some of the more prestigious clubs in the North.
He has been an avid reader since the age of eleven when his picked up his first Stephen King book and was instantly hooked.
He has been writing comics, graphic novels, and novels for the past ten years. Initially, he submitted short stories as graphic tales for the annual publication Something Wicked, part of the FutureQuake Press company. Initially these tales covered the horror/sci-fi genre. In 2012 he entered, and won the May Poetry Competition for www.writersbillboard.net, with the story The Good Behaviour Act (featured in Interesting Tymes).
He then launched Dammaged Comics and began to self-publish his own comics and graphic novels, establishing partnerships with artists such as Joe Matthews (Beano), Grant Perkins (Dr Who, Penguins of Madagascar) among others. Four complete graphic novels were published, and three anthologies, two continuing series, and a number of short standalone comics. These publications vary from humorous, children’s tales, including a re-working of Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol, in rhyme, to action/adventure and horror. He has been a regular participator at various national comic cons, for the last few years.
He then focused his attentions on developing longer, more complex plots, that were too ambitious for graphic novels, developing them into general trade novels. He then changed the name of Dammaged Comics to Dammaged Productions, to encompass the novels. He had been invited to read and sign copies of his books in several bookshops, and also schools and libraries. He has also been a regular guest on several local radio stations.
His novels have received a number of positive reviews on both Amazon and Goodreads websites. One novel has been optioned as an independent film and is in pre-production with a BAFTA award winning screenwriter and director in place.
He has multiple works in progress, including a range of novels for children he plans to release under the pen name of Dave McCluskey. There are also sequels to the titles In the Mood for Murder and The Contract, in progress.
You can find him at:
You can find him at:
Facebook: @davemccluskeyauthor @dammagedcomics
Twitter: @demccluskey1 @dammagedpro
Website (still under construction) www.dammaged.com
email address firstname.lastname@example.org
Tell us about your life outside of writing:
Let me see now! Where do I begin?
I live in Liverpool, in the UK. And before you ask, yes, I am a HUGE Beatles fan. I have been from an early age. When I left school, I went to work in a music shop, selling guitars and drums, and played in bands all over Liverpool and the North-West of England. I think I have a great voice, an awful lot of other people will disagree with me, and that’s why I was never the singer.
Music is a big thing in my life. I have been a music fan ever since I was 10 or 11. My very first single was Sprit in the Material World by The Police, my very first album was Queen, The Game, and my very first concert (other than when we went to see Eric Clapton with the school) on my own was Ozzy Osbourne.
I live with my fiancé (she used to be my girlfriend but told me that I needed to upgrade her ASAP, otherwise… (the threatening pause was intentional)). My daughter and her daughter also live with us (Grace is mine, Sian is hers, they are both ‘ours’). I live in a house filled with women, so, when we got a dog, I made damned sure it was a male. Ted is sausage dog, and basically ignores everything I've tried to teach him.
I love football. I'm not going to tell you what team I support, but it is the opposite colours from the political party I support. I never talk about football, or politics in my books, as I've seen it hurt people’s sales, and followers. Its mad that people can’t get along!
Erm… what next?
I used to work for an IT Department (actually, technically I still do work for them, but as I'm being made redundant at the end of the year, work is a relative term). I hate IT… Actually, that is not true… I LOATHE IT.
So, that’s me, in a nutshell… outside of my writing!
Do you have a work in progress?
This is such an open question… I currently have roughly 15 works in progress!
The way I work is, I’ll have a brainwave about an idea, and I’ll frantically write it down in note form. I’ll make sure that I have the start, the middle, and a rough idea about the end.
Now, this will usually happen in the middle of me working on another book. So, when the particular draft I’m working on is over, I’ll close it off, then look at my ‘to do’ list. I will then pick up another one of my works and work on that. It might be the idea I just had, or it might be another one that might be on draft 1, or even draft 15…
Am I confusing you yet?
Because I'm totally lost.
I then work on another book, while formulating the idea for another story!!! It’s all a mess, an unorganised one, but one that makes perfect sense to me.
Anyway, in answer to your question, Yes… I have a work in progress. It’s called The Vaccine Machine (nothing to do with COVID). I am hoping that this will be a gothic horror/comedy, along the lines of Neil Gaiman…
But, I have just (In the time it took to answer this question) had the idea for a bitter/sweet Christmas romance tale…
What was the most difficult section/piece you ever wrote? What made it so difficult?
I mostly write horror books. Most of my tales have either been horror, or had some kind of horror theme running through them. The Twelve is a horrific ghost story, In The Mood for Murder is a gruesome, bloody, historic thriller (set in Liverpool 1946)… and so on…
So, when my brain decided that it wanted to work on an erotic, romantic comedy, (Butterflies) it was difficult for me.
It was difficult due to the fact that it is a female book. It is totally female. The main protagonist, the second protagonist, the feelings, the emotions… it’s all female. I wrote it initially as an erotic novel, but decided to remove all the erotica, there is still sex in there (a lot of it) but its not erotica.
I passed it through some proof-readers, some of them writers of women’s fiction themselves, and they all enjoyed it. They said there were some parts where they could tell a man had written it (during a sex scene the man shouts Fwooooooooah, go’ed girl… joke, he doesn’t, I cut that bit out).
So, this was my hardest book to write.
The other hardest part to write was a single chapter in one of my darkest, most psychologically challenging works, CRACK.
Towards the end, I don’t want to do a spoiler here, but there is a death (there are a lot of them in this book) but this death is significant to the story. There is a chapter that I wrote about the woman’s child’s take on her mummy being missing, and how she reacts to everything going on around her.
For me it was a little bit harrowing, but I have had many comments on how lovely a chapter it is in a particularly brutal book.
Also, I love to write comedy into most of my books, as I think no matter how dark, or emotional a book is, it always needs levity. Even if it is gallows humour. But humour is always subjective, and I always end up second guessing it.
What sort of research do you do for your work?
In truth… none!
Well that’s not entirely true. I have an upcoming book called TimeRipper that is a science fiction/time travel take on the mythos of Jack the Ripper. For this book I very nearly became a Ripperologist…
I went to London as often as I could and took a ‘Ripper Tour’ while I was there. I must have done about 10 or 15 of them, something like that. It got to the point where the tour guides made sure that I never got to answer any of their questions, nor would they take any of my questions… My book is complete fiction, but some of the events and the names are real, so I immersed myself into anything JTR related.
Other than that, I usually do my research on the fly, or in the edits to the books. I work with a guy called Tony Higginson, who runs an online bookstore. He is very knowledgeable on all things bookish… and he has pointed out to me, on more than one (thousand) occasions areas that I need to strengthen.
I think my books are more about the human reaction to a challenging situation, rather than the why or the how.
Working in IT I learned one huge, valuable lesson, and that is ‘Google is your friend!’
Which books and authors do you read for pleasure? Is there anyone who inspires you?
When I was 11 I picked up a book one afternoon, bored out of my head. It was a book of short stories; it was called Skeleton Key. In the book was a story that was a prequel to a film that I had just watched called Salem’s Lot. This book was by Stephen King.
The very next book I read, still aged 11, was The Stand… I have loved Stephen King books ever since. Some of the more recent ones have been a bit hit and miss, but all the old stuff, the stuff when he was just making it big… they are fantastic.
Saying that though, I don’t count him as an inspiration. King’s voice is so unique (not so much now, but in the olden days… yes) that it would be hard to try to write like him, and not sound, or look like, a copycat.
So… I have different inspirations for my different moods. I would say Neil Gaiman is a huge influence, as is James Herbert. I also love Dennis Wheatley, Brian Lumley, Dean Koontz, and there are a host of indie writers who I support by buying, and reviewing, their books… I see the writing community as exactly that, a community. It’s not a competition, it’s not a race, we all write different things, and we can all support each other’s works.
I mostly read horror. I occasionally read action. I seldom read romance, or historic novels. I love biographies, as long as they are interesting, if the person is interesting… I wouldn’t even think of reading an autobiography of someone who has been famous for ten minutes…
I love love love reading graphic novels. They were my first love, and how I started off my writing career. I produced four graphic novels and a slurry of comics (all available on my Amazon page in Kindle format!)
Watchmen, V For Vendetta, and of course …From Hell (Jack the Ripper again) are all my favourites, and all written by Alan Moore.
Was there a person who encouraged you to write?
I have to give a very short answer here, and that answer is… No!
Not one person.
My love of writing came from my love of reading, but it was all from my own doing. I remember my dad telling me once that he had written a short story, a horror called The Wedding. I never got to read it, and I still don’t know whatever happened to it, but even he didn’t encourage me.
When I say he didn’t encourage me, that’s not true. I have a totally helpful, and supportive family around me. Lauren, my fiancé, was never a big reader before she met me, but she reads, and proofreads everything for me, and is totally supportive and behind me in all my endeavours. My mum, my sisters, everyone is behind me, but no one knew that I wanted to be a writer (or an author, I don’t call myself a writer, as my grammar is awful… I know how to construct a story; my editor helps me with the rest.)
I can’t say that I had a teacher, or a mentor, or anyone really. And I'm not trying to blow my own trumpet, but it was just me, I had these tales rattling around in my head that was full of boring, soul destroying, cloying IT rubbish, that were just dying (sic) to get out. So I released them…
Fly my pretties…
Thank you for this opportunity to waffle on about my books and my life. I do enjoy talking about this journey that I'm on…
Her beautiful blue butterflies have turned to black.
A desperate mistake leads her onto a path she doesn’t want to tread, and her life begins to spiral out of control.
Z: A LOVE STORY
Kevin is your normal, everyday kind of guy. An office worker in a multistory tower block in downtown London. He feels like his existence is being swallowed up by the monster metropolis where he lives and works. Ignored, lonely, and lovelorn, he's desperate for a reason to go on.
Four thousand miles away, someone else has other ideas about everything they have ever wanted ...
As the hostilities between two superpowers escalate, a new weapon has emerged.
Love is a many splendored thing.
Interesting Tymes: An anthology of six horror tales, all written in rhyme, and introduced by Edward D’Ammage, a spooky, but genial, host.
Interesting Tymes x 2: A second anthology of six horror tales, again written in rhyme, and featuring Edward D’Ammage.
Edward D’Ammage Presents: The Wedding: A feature length rhyming horror story introduced by Edward D’Ammage. A woman is whisked away on her wedding night by a huge spider with a human head. It is down to her groom to save her from the underworld.
Wooden Heart: A detective cursed with déjà vu and OCD has to solve a strange spate of deaths, while dealing with memories from two-hundred years before.
Three Days in the City: A zombie-esque tale as a homeless man seeks work in Liverpool and is shunned at every turn.
The Few: A zombie continuing tale. Currently on #3 of #6. The zombie apocalypse has occurred, and the people are banding together. It is becoming apparent that there are some members of the community who are immune to the bite of the monsters around them.
The Adventures of Mace Masoch – Hard Times on Planet L’Bido: Mace Masoch, fearless explorer, travells on the planet L’Bido to find the Lib, an animal that possesses the largest source of libido in the universe.
Short, Sharp, Shocks: An anthology of six suspense and horror tales, all revolving around a skeletal game show!
Doppelgänger: On impulse Tom Daily purchases an ornate, antique mirror and hangs it on his wall. Soon he is obsessed with it, alienating his wife and family. Then a series of bloody attacks begin to happen around his neighbourhood. Tom is having nightmares about these atrocities. Is it him performing them, or is it something darker?
Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol: A reworking of the classic Christmas tale, true to the original, but written in rhyme.
Olf: Olf is the fastest, strongest and best flyer in Santa’s reindeer academy, but due to his naughty nature is one of the most disliked too. Can he overcome his nature to save Christmas?
Deathday Presents: Every year, in Hell, Satan had a deathday. All the demons residing in the pit are required to get him a deathday present. Anyone who disappoints him joins the Eternity Fraternity, where they are cast into the abyss. Three loser demons have forgotten and must journey ‘topside’ to get him something he doesn’t already have.
The Twelve: John Rydell is 4000 miles away from home when he gets a phone call from his wife to tell him that there is someone in the house. When he returns, he is thrown into a nightmare of repressed memories from his time at university, when his old friends start dying one by one. He was in a club back then, there were twelve of them; there were twelve for a reason!
In The Mood… For Murder (with Tony Bolland): Liverpool, 1946, post-war and swinging. The Rialto is the place to go to dance away your blues and immerse yourself in swing music. The Downswing Seven are the resident band and every night they are blowing up a storm. The lead male vocal is getting too old to continue, and the band must audition for a replacement, much to the chagrin of George Hogg, the drummer. He had his eye on that spot. Are some things worth killing for? The band are about to find out!
CRACK: Joe O’Hara is having a bad day, and things are just about to get worse. A road accident that was not his fault, leads Joe down a road of PTSD and addiction. He needs his CRACK, he can’t sleep without it, he can’t function without it. He has to have his CRACK, only it’s not the crack you might think it is…
Z: A Love Story: Kevin likes Rachael. They have worked together for years, but he has never plucked up the courage to ask her out. One day he thinks ‘what’s the worst that could happen?’ and he asks her. She says yes… Four thousand miles away in the USA, the heightened tensions between two superpowers have escalated. There is an accident in a lab and Agent Z is unleashed. These two, very different worlds, are about to collide.
The Contract (with C William Giles (deceased)): A spate of strange deaths in different states in the USA occur. The victims are by no means innocent, not by a long shot. All the murders have one thing in common. The killer has left a calling card. A single white feather. But just like the deaths, the feather is no normal feather. It is down to FBI agents Symes and Cox to catch this killer. As the bodies mount, it becomes clear that they are not dealing with a normal serial killer.
Butterflies: Olivia Martell has everything. She has just married the man of her dreams, a young, handsome self-made millionaire who makes her butterflies soar, her life is on the right tracks. However, after a horrific road traffic accident, everything changes, the butterflies turn black. She finds herself alone, dependant on her family and friends for strength and support. Everyday becomes a fight, with the doctors in the hospital looking after her comatose husband, with her sister in law, with herself. A mistake is made, a mistake that takes down a path she doesn’t want to tread, as she tries to take control of her life and her destiny.