M H David is the author of The Gouge, which was published on 1 June 2021.
He kindly answered a few of my questions.
1. Tell us a little about The Gouge.
The Gouge is my first novel. It takes place in a small town, called Cypress Creek, which has an old lore about a “Man in the Woods” who murders young lovers. Twenty-two years ago, the legend seemingly came true when an apparent serial killer began targeting several teens and leaving their bodies in the woods outside town. Eventually, the killer was caught, convicted, and sent to prison. Fast forward to the present. Carson, the serial killer’s son, is all grown up and trying to make a life for himself hundreds of miles away from Cypress Creek. Even though he’s left his past behind, Carson still carries a lingering fear that he will never escape his father’s heinous crimes—one text message from an anonymous number confirms that he can’t run forever. Carson is met with facing the truth about what really happened in those woods two decades ago, all the while, a new copycat killer has emerged.
The Gouge is available on Amazon and is enrolled in the Kindle Unlimited program. Here is a universal link: mybook.to/thegouge
2. What inspired the book?
Like most authors, I draw my ideas from the things around me. I like small town stories—especially the towns that have their own legends, or tall tales about their area. I grew up in a small town like the one in my book. I’ve found that even the smallest towns hold some of the darkest secrets. If you dig deep enough, you might be surprised at what you find. In fact, a couple of events in The Gouge are based on personal experiences of my own—at least in some respect. I won’t go into the details of the actual events, (I didn’t kill anyone, by the way) but I always say that if you know me well, you could probably pick the scenes out. For those that don’t know me, well, maybe you should read The Gouge and find out.
3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?
I have a general idea of the story that I want to write, but as I’m writing, the words do tend to take on a life of their own. I find this exciting! It’s like the characters I’ve created have come to life and are making decisions of their very own without me creating it. It’s like, I write the character into a spot, and based on the profile I’ve created for them, they tend to discover a way out, all on their own. Okay, maybe it’s not that simple, but that’s kind of how it goes down. I do plan how each chapter will end. Chapter breaks are an ideal spot to place a cliff-hanger—and I love cliff-hangers. It’s what keeps you reading. So yeah, there is a bit of a strategy there.
4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that surprised you?
Nothing about the actual process really surprised me—I’d done a lot of research about self-publishing before moving forward with it. I was aware that it would be a lot of work, as well as a slow build process. I was surprised by the amount of support I received from the writing community on social media, though. Before the release of The Gouge, I had gone into this thinking I was going to be all alone in promoting. I figured I would be peddling my books to anyone that would take one on the street, or a bookstore owner that might just feel bad for this little newbie author, so they would throw a couple bucks at me. I assumed that other indie authors considered other authors, like me, as competition or something. That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, as I began interacting with everyone, it felt more like a family than anything else. Everyone was extremely polite, helpful and supportive. We all wanted one another to succeed. It kind of dropped a little hope in the bucket for humanity.
5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?
Unfortunately, I work, a lot. I’m a self-employed building contractor, and it demands a good amount of my time. The amount of time that I make for writing is barely an hour per day if that. I wish I could make more time, but I’m not willing to give up the time I have to spend with my family. Plus, I do need to sleep every now and then. But as far as relaxing—I love to hike, and I love to camp. There’s just something about going out into the woods and getting away from all the noise of the world that puts me at ease. In fact, my wife and I are planning a big hiking trip on the Appalachian Trail next year that could take several months. We’ll see how that goes!
6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?
I don’t think I have an answer for that one. Honestly, I can’t think of any book that I have ever read more than once. I know, that sounds unheard of from a writer, right? I don’t know, maybe I re-read something like Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark a few times when I was a kid, but nothing recent comes to mind. Now days, A lot of times when I finish a book, I end up lending it to someone else to enjoy, and a lot of times the book never makes it back to me. Also, again, I do not get a lot of read/write time, so I will usually go after a new book before I pick up one that I’ve been through already. I do have an ever-growing list of books that would recommend, and I’ve been reviewing them one at a time on my blog. Mhdavid.blogspot.com
7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?
Waffles or pancakes? No, let me think of something better…Actually, I don’t think anyone has asked me: “Do you have any other books you’re working on?”
Yes! I am currently working on my next mystery/thriller called, The Blue Hole. I hope to finish the first draft before the end of the year and release it in early Spring 2022. On top of that, I have two other books planned that I am anxious to begin writing. Just need to continue to remind myself: one project at a time. One project at a time.
About the Book
Carson Bates ran away from Cypress Creek to hide from his dark past—his father was the serial killer dubbed, “The Man in the Woods”. Twenty-two years later, a simple text message threatens to bring all of his secrets out into the open.
The freshly slain bodies of two teenage girls have been discovered in the woods of Cypress Creek. The methods by which the girls were killed are identical to those found nearly twenty-two years earlier on his father’s victims. The now retired detective who worked the first case has long suspected Carson Bates knew more than what he revealed in interrogations; now is his chance to prove it.
Carson returns to Cypress Creek to finally face his past, but it is soon clear that Carson isn’t the only person in that small-town harboring dark secrets about that fateful night in the woods.