"Dave Lewis is a writer and poet based in Pontypridd, south Wales. He also lectures IT & Photography, designs web sites and is a keen photographer. He has always lived in Wales except for a short spell in Kenya in 1993-94 and enjoys travelling to different parts of the world. He writes content for and still maintains many web sites, was web producer for the BBC Wales Scrum V fanzine, has run four hugely successful rugby sites with Rivals.net and used to write a newspaper column for the Pontypridd Observer." AmeriCymru spoke to Dave about 'Ctrl-Alt-Delete' and other literary projects.
AmeriCymru: Hi Dave and many thanks for agreeing to this interview. Your first novel 'Ctrl-Alt-Delete' is currently available on Kindle. Care to tell us a little more about the novel and what inspired it?
Dave: I guess it's a crime thriller. A Facebook, cyber-stalking, murder mystery, love story with some good old fashioned sex and violence thrown in for good measure.
I've always wanted to follow in the footsteps of someone like James Patterson and be a successful commercial writer, if only to allow myself time out from the day job to develop my writing skills more.
Having worked in IT for 17 years I am always amazed at how innocent to the dangers of the web people can be and whilst I had the idea of linking a number of very different local characters together in a very fast, filmic novel, I imagine my computer knowledge helped inspire the main thrust of the book.
One of the reviews says: ‘Could do for Wales what Stieg Larsson did for Sweden!’ which is a great compliment and hopefully true.
Amazon link - Ctrl+Alt+Delete
When beautiful Jenny Morris uses Facebook to get her ex-boyfriend Hal Griffiths to stalk her she has no idea what a dangerous game she is playing - for someone else is watching from the murky shadows of cyberspace.
And when an horrific murder in a sleepy Welsh village stirs a seasoned reporter, a conceited detective and an overweight IT expert into action, they too always seem to be one step behind the mysterious killer - Hagar.
Against the backdrop of a tangled web of deviant sexual practices Hal must rescue his lover before the killer strikes again. In the wilds of the Brecon Beacons National Park an electrifying climax is played out when Hal is forced to confront his deadly rival.
Social and political commentary within a close-knit community has never been so honest. Pornography morphs into technology and we are forced to ask ourselves the question - will man’s lust for instant gratification ultimately be his undoing?
A full-throttle thriller effortlessly blending violence, eroticism and suspense, Ctrl-Alt-Delete is both a modern love story and a prophetic tale of intrigue in our ever-distracting machine driven world. A truly gripping debut novel by Dave Lewis.
AmeriCymru: How intrusive and how dangerous do you think modern social media/networks are? Can technology go too far?
Dave: Very dangerous (just read the book). I'm sure that we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg at the moment and things will get much worse before people wake up. I read one study last year that some young people spend five times more time 'socialising' online than they do in the real world - this is very sad when there is a great big beautiful world out there to explore.
There are security/identity issues with online use, health issues and outright dangers, especially when you delve into the world of internet dating and pornography.
Technology is neutral I guess and will just continue to develop to enable more people to participate and therefore consume, it's a capitalist world and the masses of India, Africa and China are not even in the game yet - it's Christmas for sellers!
AmeriCymru: Are you planning a sequel to 'Crtl-Alt-Delete'
Yep! I can't say too much but it's half written in my head and whilst the first book is set almost entirely in Wales, the second will be in Kenya and... Nah, that would be telling.
AmeriCymru: What are the advantages of publishing digital editions? How easy (or difficult) is it to publish on Kindle?
Dave: Hopefully, budding writers can by-pass the traditional and outdated agent/publisher route and just get on with it. It's about 2-3 years quicker, very easy if you have a few computer skills and some very basic html knowledge. You also get to control commissions etc. I used the least commission / hopefully more sales option, e.g. my novel is just 86p or 99cents and already in less than 2 weeks I've sold nearly 100 copies (in UK).
AmeriCymru: You have also published three anthologies of poems and short stories. Your third collection Sawing Fallen Logs For Ladybird Houses is accompanied by photographs on your website. How do the two media work together?
Dave: Yeh, the poetry is always a constant and I'm sure I'll continue to publish poetry for many years to come. Sawing Fallen Logs... was a concept I had a few years back. I applied for a bursary from 'Literature Wales' to enable me to get a publisher in Wales but as they only seem to give money to the same old faces... I do what I always do if they are not willing to support grass roots art of this kind - I just do it anyway. To publish full-colour images alongside the poetry as was envisaged would have been better but in the end was just too expensive to do. Luckily the poems stand alone anyway, but for those that have bought the book and given me feedback they don't see it as such a drawback having to have the images open on a laptop or iPad.
AmeriCymru: You were a runner up in the Rhys Davies Short Story Competition 2009 with your short story 'Onions'. Can you tell us more about the story? Do you plan to write more short stories?
Dave: 'Onions' was a challenge to the politically correct mainstream literary world and they seemed to fall for it hook, line and sinker! Very satisfying. Many thought it highlighted the racism within a working class valleys culture but actually all it shows is that there is good and bad everywhere and that people just get too hung up on clichés, stereotypes and jumping on the BBC bandwagon of over-the-top political correctness.
The story is set in a south Wales valleys curryhouse and I take the stresses and strains we all face to extremes when an Al-Qaeda recruit (a pubescent, confused young lad who is neither one thing nor the other) blows up a restaurant. The story highlights culture within culture by means of jumping between tables in the room and from the waiters’ point of view rather than the customers.
I've got two more stories in Urban Birdsong and have a couple of others ready for a future book.
AmeriCymru: In addition to writing you have also organised the Welsh Poetry Competition for the past five years. How has the competition grown and developed since 2007?
Dave: It's been fantastic! We went from a few hundred entries mostly from within Wales in the first year to becoming truly international a couple of years later and get entries from all over the world now. I think the success has been down to our great judges, John Evans, Mike Jenkins and Sally Spedding and the fact that the competition is judged fairly, unlike many I won't mention.
AmeriCymru: Who is the judge this year?
Dave: It's a secret, but OK then, John Evans.
AmeriCymru: What are you reading at the moment? Any recommendations?
Dave: My favourite book of all time is 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' but at the moment I'm reading Gary Snyder - Turtle Island, a Patricia Cornwell book, a Sandy Denny biography and Crash by JG Ballard, plus anything else lying around...
AmeriCymru: Favourite pub in Ponty?
Dave: Always was the Llanover Arms, but a new watering hole has emerged recently in the form of The Patriot - award-winning real ales, great landlord and always packed! The 'Llan' will always have a special place in all Ponty peoples' hearts of course, I've been drinking there myself since I was 15 or 16.
AmeriCymru: What's next for Dave Lewis?
Dave: I've got a book of haiku half done plus bits and bobs, photography to catch up on, but I guess I really should start on a sequel to Ctrl-Alt-Delete and then the third...
AmeriCymru: Any final message for the readers and members of AmeriCymru?
Dave: Merry Christmas of course, does time fly as fast in America as it does here in Wales? Oh, and buy my book of course (is that allowed Ceri?)
AmeriCymru: Certainly is...BUY DAVE'S BOOK: Ed.
Interview by Ceri Shaw Email
Excerpt From Ctrl-Alt-Delete
Jenny had drunk far too much white wine. It was an easy mistake to make and now she was going to die.
How long had she been unconscious? She had no idea. No concept of time. Struggling hard not to panic as she felt herself begin to hyperventilate Jenny instinctively knew she must absorb and assimilate every detail, something somewhere might save her. She also knew she must act immediately if she wanted to escape.
She struggled for breath and forced herself not to give in to the gagging reflex as her desert-dry mouth filled with burning bile. Jenny’s swollen eyes strained to become accustomed to the murky gloom. She tried to shake her long, curly brown hair away from her face but dried sweat held it tight as the cold metal of the handcuffs cut into her wrists. Her whole body was aching and her pulse throbbed relentlessly in her head.
Thinking back to earlier that evening she vaguely remembered her vision blurring and the muted sound of words slurring, like holding your head underwater in the bath. Then her stomach had tightened and warm flushes had begun to spread out all over her body. A distorted Daliesque clock face slowly slithered down the wall. As Jenny’s coordination flew off into the evening her knees buckled. She headed for the carpet in slow motion. A small, rough hand expertly plucked the free-falling wine glass from mid-air and delicately placed it on a low wicker table.
Terror can manifest itself in different ways but all Jenny could visualize at this moment was Hal’s grinning face staring back from the centre of a computer monitor. In the first brief seconds of consciousness she searched for reassurance. She tried to reason with herself, to tell herself it would be OK.
She tried to justify her actions, to make sense of it, to make it alright. It wasn’t her fault. What else could she have done? Stalkers don’t just stalk anybody do they? You have to give them a reason. You have got to make them want to do it.
Oh shit! What have I got myself into? The thought of being a lonely old spinster was suddenly very appealing… then unexpectedly, off to the side, a long penetrating torch beam flashed across her body and in a nanosecond she was catapulted back to the present. The harsh light settled on her pale face and blinded Jenny for a brief moment before an echoing click plunged her back into silence and darkness.
With her senses heightened by fear she could taste the damp, musty smells of straw, onions and potatoes. The odour of mouse droppings mingled with the stink of rotting, wet vegetables. She desperately searched the dim recesses of her prison. Her funeral-black pupils frantically scanned the darkness for hope.
Penetrating, probing. Looking for anything that could offer her a way out of this nightmare… and then she saw them.
Laid out purposefully in a neat line on the small wooden bench in the corner of the barn. Almost out of sight. Not placed in front of you – for effect. Not staring you in the face, not carefully arranged like pretty glass ornaments on a living room shelf. Not meant to shock or terrify. These had been put there for a purpose. Practical. To be used.
Jenny shivered, her big brown eyes grew to saucers, her face became china-white as the adrenaline kicked in and coursed through her blood. She tried to jerk free but the restraints held firm as she slowly traced the metallic shapes in perfect clarity. Her screams were muffled by the crimson scarf tied tight around her mouth, and an earthy taste of silk mixed with her briny tears as they streamed into her mouth.
Suddenly and without warning she felt warm liquid flow down her legs as her bladder opened involuntary. She stank of fear. She missed her daddy.
Then, slowly but surely, the same rough hand emerged from the shadows and reached for a shiny, clean scalpel that glinted sporadically in the half-light. It edged closer to her, leaving the rest of the knives, dissection instruments and power tools set out clinically in the dark.
April 1st 2010…
Hal Griffiths had been fast asleep. His head submerged deep in a pillow, Egyptian cotton sheets wrapped around his lean but muscular torso.
A thick winter duvet lay in a pile on the floor next to a pair of old Levi jeans and a faded blue Billabong tee shirt. Bridgedale light-weight walking socks and a pair of Merrell trail shoes were close by. Smiling to himself, semi-conscious now, he kept his eyes closed tight.
These were the precious minutes just before waking when your mind knew it was time to face another day but your body craved another hours rest, or was it the other way around? Either way he wasn’t going anywhere, the voluptuous super-model Elle McPherson was with him.
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