M H David Interview
Indie Book Butler: Today we are joined by M.H. David, author of The Gouge. Welcome to the Book Butler, M.H.
M.H. David: Thank you! I’m really excited to have this opportunity to tell people about The Gouge!
IBB: For any of our readers that have not come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
MHD: I am a self-employed building contractor by trade that has been thinking up books and stories while scaling walk boards and swinging a hammer most of my life. I grew up on a farm in the U.S. Midwest, and I nurtured my imagination with comic books and bonfires. I love to travel, camp, and hike. I still live in the Midwest, now with my wife of eighteen years, my two sons, and our golden retriever, Gambit. The Gouge is my breakout publication, and you will hopefully be seeing more and more of my work in the near future.
IBB: Your breakout novel, The Gouge, was recently released. What made you decide to write the story?
MHD: To put it simply, I had a story that I wanted to tell and so I wrote it. I’ve been writing little stories and outlines for years, and I figured it was about time that I finish one properly and set it out there for the world to see. The Gouge just happened to be the story idea that I decided to run with first. It is a suspense/thriller that takes place in a small town much like the one that I grew up in. There’s also an urban legend that haunts this town which lays the grounds for the story’s premise. I felt like The Gouge was the perfect book for me to start with.
IBB: What could a reader expect when they pick up a copy?
MHD: A lot of twists and characters that will wrap you up in their problems and have you rooting for them. I believe that there will be a few readers who will think they know what really happened in the woods, and maybe they do, but I do believe they will be surprised by some of the curveballs I’ve tossed in.
IBB: What can you tell us about Carson Bates, a man with a lot of secrets?
MHD: Carson is a relatively quiet guy—he purposely has a closed circle to hide his past. Twenty-two years ago, Carson’s father was arrested and convicted of being a serial killer in the small town of Cypress Creek—they nicknamed him “The Man in the Woods,” after a local ghost story. After Carson’s father was arrested, Carson ran away from home, changed his name, and started a new life hundreds of miles away. He wasn’t just running from the stain that his father had put on their family—Carson carries a guilt that he’s unsure can ever be rectified. I don’t want to reveal that secret here—for that you’ll need to read the book. I will say that when Carson ran away from home, he did everything that he could to lock away his past and pretend that it never happened. But what Carson didn’t take into account was that there were some people in the town of Cypress Creek that would never let things go. When two new bodies are found in Cypress Creek that match the M.O. of “Man in the Woods” murders, it blows the old case wide open, and Carson is once again forced to face his past.
IBB: Are there any other characters that you particularly enjoyed creating?
MHD: There’s a retired police detective, Carl Yeager, that I really enjoyed writing. Carl was the detective on the case twenty-two years earlier when Carson’s father was arrested. On top of his professional interest in the new case and its similarities to the old case, Carl has an axe to grind with Carson Bates. Not only is Carl certain that Carson is hiding something about the twenty-two-year-old murders, but there’s something more personal as well. I think writing about that pent-up rage and frustration that Carl just could not let out without exposing himself to criticism—it was just an interesting angle to write and fun to keep a secret from the reader until it was time for the big reveal.
IBB: How did you work on making your characters relatable?
MHD: I believe that everyone has had to undergo some sort of tragedy in their own lives at some point or another. During such a traumatic moment, we might have even done or said something that we aren’t exactly proud of, but by some twist of fate we got away with it. The characters in The Gouge are no different. They explore these sometimes-unconventional routes that people may consider and the consequences of living with those choices.
IBB: Have you received a favourite review of the book?
MHD: The book was only released a little over a week ago (from the time of this interview), so I haven’t seen any posted reviews of it yet. I did appreciate that the editor who I hired to help prepare the book said that it was, “a great thriller.”
IBB: Did you write The Gouge with the intention of it being a standalone book or do you have plans to further explore the area and characters?
MHD: The Gouge is a standalone story. That being said, I am dabbling with the idea of using one or two of the characters from The Gouge in my next book—not as a main character, but kind of like a walk-on role. I think it will be a fun Easter Egg to include in my work going forward.
IBB: What are you hoping to achieve with the book?
MHD: I just wanted to write a good book, and I wanted people to enjoy it. If there were any agenda or deep mission to writing The Gouge it would be to put my work out there, and just be seen. Maybe The Gouge can be the gateway book to new readers of indie books?
IBB: What would you say makes a great writer?
MHD: Someone that’s passionate about their characters and about their story. I think you should be able to invest yourself into the life of your characters and tell their story in a way that the reader can feel what the character is going through as if they are right there with them.
IBB: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
MHD: Let me preface this with, I love love LOVE my family! But my preferred writing conditions are when no one else is home. Having the peace and quiet in the house is one thing, of course. But I think that when my wife and kids are home, if I spend a large amount of time in my office in my own little world with my imaginary friends that I like to write about, I feel like I’m somehow neglecting my responsibilities as a husband and father. So, if the family is out doing things they enjoy, it’s easier for me to focus. I do practice to write something every day. It’s not easy, and most days it’s barely worth mentioning, but I do it. I also tend to write in bursts—like I’ll let ideas build up for days, and then suddenly I pour them all out onto a page at once, sometimes writing thousands of words in one sitting.
IBB: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
MHD: I was eighteen, and I told my wife (who was my girlfriend at the time) about this wild story idea that I had. She didn’t know that I liked to make up stories back then—it was something that I was kind of sheltering from her to hide my nerdiness—we’d just gotten together. Anyway, so I told her the story, and she loved it and she even encouraged me to write it. I think a lot of younger people have that dream to become a published author, but it wasn’t really until that day that I realized that the dream could actually become a reality, and that was because someone had taken the time to be supportive of it.
IBB: Why do you think it is that you have found yourself writing in the style that you do?
MHD: I’m sure it has something to do with the books that I read. I follow thriller/suspense authors like Greg Isles, Halen Coben, and Karen Slaughter. I love a good story that entices you to turn the next page and intertwines several storylines into one grand twisted ending. And speaking of endings, I love a good surprise ending.
IBB: What would you say, if anything, best differentiates you from other authors?
MHD: Maybe my small-town upbringing? Maybe it’s my independent thinking? I’m not sure. I don’t prefer to think of myself so much as different as I do enthusiastic about my writing.
IBB: What is next on the self-publishing horizon for yourself?
MHD: I’m working on my next book now. The placeholder title for it now is: The Blue Hole, and I’ve set a personal goal to have the first draft finished by July. I do have another book, that is just a pile of notes at this point, but it will most likely be what follows.
IBB: Was the Self-/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
MHD: Yeah, I think so. Like I said before, I’m self-employed, and I’ve pretty much always been that way. I’ve only ever had one job in my life where I was actually working for an hourly wage for someone else. Maybe I have an issue that needs to be looked at—I don’t know—but I’ve always been a do-it-yourself kind of person. When I look at a job/project, I find the most profitable and efficient way to complete it. I use that same mindset with my writing and determined that self-publishing was the best route for me.
IBB: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
MHD: I knew going into this that my book flying off the shelves the day after its release and becoming an overnight sensation was not a likely scenario. This project was going to require a lot of time, promotion, and preparation, and it was going to require some expenses to make most any of it happen. There have been a few bumps and tough decisions to be made, but it’s all part of the process, I think. One thing I did not expect was all the support and new friends that I have made in the indie writing world. There are so many creative and kind people out there doing their best, just like me, to tell their story—so it’s just been great to speak with them, hear their publishing successes and faults and learn from one another.
IBB: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
MHD: As cliché as it sounds, the best advice is to just write your story. Put in the work and WRITE IT. Once you are finished (or when you think you’re finished) show it to someone, let them read it, and listen to them. Do not take criticism too harshly. We are usually our own biggest fan, so it’s not easy for us to see where we go wrong, or what we can do better. Above all else, be kind and helpful to others.
IBB: Before we bring this interview to a close, it is your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
MHD: A few that come to mind right now: Lee Hall, B. Fox, J.C. Maine, T.R. Hamby, and Marshal Smith. These are just a handful of the many more indie authors out there that deserve their work to be looked at. I would suggest filling a search bar on social media, or even on Amazon with “Indie Books,” you may be surprised with how many great reads you’re missing out on.
IBB: Thank you for joining us today, M.H., and all the best for the future.
MHD: Thank you for the interview!
IBB: For more information on M.H. and his work, please do visit: