I’m delighted to be hosting Canadian author Marc Watson in my hot seat today. Marc is chatting to us about his novel Death Dresses Poorly. You’ll find out more about his characters, his inspiration for writing and more (I’m sure you’ll have an ‘awww’ moment when you read about the best part of his writing journey).
Ethan is a directionless twenty-something who has finally cast off the heartbreaking responsibilities of his broken boyhood home, but not without irreversible scars and sarcasm. After surviving a tragic accident, he begins to suspect he may actually have something to live for. Is it a hidden purpose? His new beginning? Finding a decent cup of coffee?
The answer is unclear, until one morning a familiar stranger appears. The poorly dressed man at Ethan’s door seems to have all the answers. But with those answers, comes a grave proposition.
Death Dresses Poorly is witty and realistically sarcastic; full of self-redemption and the dark, cosmic inner-workings of life and death.
Comically sharp yet lighthearted, Death Dresses Poorly is the bittersweet tale of a young man’s journey through the discarded baggage of his childhood.
Available to purchase in digital and paperback formats.
Welcome to Jera’s Jamboree.
Please summarise Death Dresses Poorly in 20 words or less.
Ethan is a directionless 20-something recruited by Death to be the new Grim Reaper, a job he comically denies.
What was the idea/inspiration for your novel?
It all started with a strange interaction I had with a man in O’Hare Airport years ago (a scene almost exactly like the first chapter of the book). I held that moment in my head for years, and when the time came to put a long-gestating idea on to paper, it was the first scenario that occurred to me and seemed a perfect entry into this story.
Please tell us about the characters in Death Dresses Poorly.
Certainly! The story consists of two main characters. The first of which is Ethan, a young 20-something who is coming back to Seattle after attending his druggie mother’s funeral. Theirs was an emotionally manipulative relationship, and it wasn’t until he finally abandoned her to her fate that he started to be free, but he carries a lot of the guilt about what came after. He’s broken and sarcastic and very closed off emotionally, but still sees the good possible in the world.
The second character is Death, who in this case is a mid-50’s man who always wears black, but his outfits are eclectic and strange (hence the title). He is as bitter and sarcastic as Ethan and can trade barbs with him with ease. He’s omnisciently powerful, but chooses to relate to Ethan on a more human level, until he feels the need to up the amount of strange things Ethan experiences.
What inspired you to write?
I was bored would be the most accurate answer. I had always liked to write, and had written a number of books or story outlines over the years, but until I was working a maintenance job with little to actually stimulate my brain, I didn’t do anything about it.
Once I did get that job (in the middle of the recession in 2009) I needed a chance to get the creative juices flowing, so I’d hunker down in an abandon cubicle and write all lunch hour. After a year, I had my epic fantasy / science fiction novel Catching Hell finished. After that, I didn’t stop. Death Dresses Poorly followed later, after I was exhausted from living in my fantasy world for so long.
Do you have a most creative time of day Marc?
It’s always lunch time. I like putting my ideas together and sitting down at my desk and just getting it all out there. Since I only have 45-50 minutes a day to write, I make sure I’m at my creative peak at that time.
Do you have a favourite book? What makes it your favourite?
My favourite book will always be The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx. It was mandatory reading in a high school English class I had. Although most of the class couldn’t stand it, I read it twice before that unit was over.
The biggest thing about it is that the characters are so vivid and lively. It’s a simple story of a man’s personal redemption and rebuild in rural Newfoundland, which you wouldn’t think a fantasy junkie like me would be in to. The way it’s told is just so vibrant. The word choice and story crafting are unbelievable. But I suppose that’s why it won the Pulitzer Prize.
What has been the worst part of your writing journey so far Marc?
I still wish I could find the time to sit and write more, but I also accept that this is just the way I operate. I don’t want to write for a living, and I’m very happy keeping it as a hobby. I don’t write well at night, and that’s family time anyway. I’ve made it this far with the time I’ve had, so I can’t complain. Maybe if my work would let me take 2-hour lunches I’d be happier? I doubt that would fly…
… and the best?
Mexican food. When I decided to really put myself out into the writing world, I had one goal: to make enough money from my work to take my amazing family out to dinner. With the first influx of cash I saw, I had enough to take them out to a nice Mexican dinner, fulfilling the goal. It was a great meal, and I was so happy and proud through the entire evening. Everything that comes after that is simply gravy.
Can you share what you’re working on now?
I’m currently wrapping up Catching Hell Part 2: Destination for a hopeful publication later this year. When I originally wrote it, Catching Hell was 250k words long , so I split it, focused on part one, and put part two off until I was ready to properly finish it, which is now.
Catching Hell is the first part of a sci-fi/fantasy epic about two friends separated on their quest to avenge their destroyed home. Aryu, who has wings, and Johan have their home destroyed by a mechanical army thought extinct. Now separated, Aryu learns that he must also deal with Nixon Ash, a phoenix-man sworn to kill owners of the Shi Kaze, a weapon Aryu recently found. Meanwhile Johan and his tactical mind adventure to a distant, advanced city to find a way to defeat their enemy and reunite with his best friend.
One goes into the world of the fantastic and mystical, while the other goes to the technological. Each are worlds they were raised to fear, but now must face to defeat their common enemy.
Finally, are there any tips you could share with new writers?
My biggest advice is always to write at your own pace. Since I became involved in the writing world, I’m inundated with writing prompts and challenges and people boasting about #NaNoWriMo results and daily word goals. I say forget that noise. If you write slow, even just a few words a day, then so be it. If you write like lightning, that’s fine as well. A proper story will come to you, and if it doesn’t than is it really worth writing?
And even then I hear people say “life gets in the way. If I don’t set a goal I’ll never write” but to that I say, shouldn’t you be dealing with life first? I love writing, but not at the cost of what’s happening in my life.
Thank you for being my guest today.
Marc Watson is an author of genre fiction of all lengths and styles. He began writing at the age of 15 and continues to be a part-time writing student at Athabasca University. He has been published on flash fiction site www.101words.org as well as comedy site www.thecorrectness.com. His debut novel Death Dresses Poorly was released by Fluky Fiction in December 2017, followed by Catching Hell Pt 1: Journey by Double Dragon Press.
Marc lives in Calgary, Alberta. He is a husband and proud father of two. He is an avid outdoors-man, martial artist, baseball player, and lover of all Mexican foods.