top of page

Author Spotlight with David Duffy

Get to know David Duffy in this exclusive interview. David Duffy was born in a British Army camp in 1980's Germany, he has lived most of his life in Scotland. As one of 6 children, his childhood was never dull. This busy upbringing and range of personalities help shape the imagination and sense of wonder that enabled David to birth such fantastical ideas as his first book, Tales Of The Hiole. His vivid imagination and zest for creativity helped turn what started out as a bedtime story for his daughter into his first published work. A self-proclaimed 'Jack of all trades, master of none', David had always enjoyed story-telling and entertaining. Whether as a child volunteering with his Grandmother for Riding for the disabled association, or as an adult working 12 hour shifts in the kitchens, he always found a way to entertain and make people laugh. Despite his outward and fun-loving personality, he would describe himself more as an avid introvert than anything else. It wasn't until after his daughter was born that David realised how much joy and imagination his stories sparked in people. This realisation and a little emotional blackmail from his daughter, led him to take the leap to becoming a published author. Hello you wonderful soul! How are you feeling as a new published author? Excited? Nervous?

For those who have no idea what your book is about can you please tell us what it entails?

Hi Aimee, thank you so much for this opportunity, and for all your kind words about my book. I have to say, I am pretty dumbfounded by this whole experience. I think the best word to describe how it makes me feel is surreal. It's exciting, yet terrifying. At the start of the year I was "David, a data analyst from Fife." Now I'm a published author, and my daughter has a copy of a book, written for her, by her dad, in her school library! (I donated a signed copy to her school.)

Tales of The Hiole is essentially about imagination shared. One imagination is powerful enough to change the world. But when you share imagination, that's when it becomes fun! If you look at literally every man-made object around you, at some point that was nothing but a thought. So I decided, what if we took all of "nature's thoughts", and had a little fun with them. Which is where the Elephantopus came from. Sort of.

We made storytelling into a game.

Pick a colour.

Pick a living object.

Pick a colour.

Pick a non-living object.

These two items would become the basis for a bedtime story. She would pick, I would tell a story. Then I would pick and she would tell a story. This is where the elephant and the octopus came from.

You said you took inspiration for 'Tales Of The Hiole' from your daughter's bedtime story, how did you manage to remember to write it all down?

Oh, wow! That was a task and a half. When I originally made up the story, it was off the cuff. I put on a silly Glasgow(ish) accent, and just started talking. Literally just letting words fall out of my mouth. When she started asking questions about it, it was the next day and I had no idea what I had said. I had a vague recollection of the main points. Characters, absurdities etc. But thankfully my daughter thoroughly enjoys correcting me (and she was paying attention when I was making it up) and helped fill in the blanks. After that, it was just a case of adding more detail and interactions to the story.

How long was the time scale between saying that bedtime story, and getting it published?

I think it was about a year, to be honest. I never really intended to publish it initially. It was just a bedtime story that we could build on. But my daughter is very good at emotional blackmail, and after a few chats with my wife and some feedback from family and friends about the story, It was decided I should at least give it a try.

What was your favourite book as a child? Who is your favourite now you're older?

I'm 41, my childhood was a looong time ago, haha! I do remember my grandparents had these massive hardback copies of Lord of the rings, and we loved reading that when we went over to stay. That's the most prominent book memory I have from my childhood I would say.

Now that I'm older, most of my reading is technical and legal documentation for work. However, I have recently started re-reading my all-time favourite book. "The hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse" by Robert Rankin.

As I'm sure many people will spell it wrong, why is your title called 'Hiole' and not 'Hole'?

The name itself is a combination. It's 'not quite a hill, not quite a hole. It's a Hiole.' (Pronounced Hee-ole.)

What you maybe don't get from the book, is that The Hiole itself is a character, much like The Frox and The Elephantopus. The Hiole is essentially a representation of imagination. It can be full to the brim and as big as the sky (a hill, bursting with ideas and life) - or it can be desolate and void with an ominous darkness (a hole - when you just can't quite put any thoughts together, like writer's block.) - or it can be both, or neither.

As your daughter was the reason why you decided to try and get your book published, does that mean out of your family, you have to admit she wears the trousers?

I like to think of myself as the strict authoritarian father figure. It's just a shame nobody else in this house does. I am definitely a pushover.

I love how you grew up in a huge family, did any of your siblings read to you before bed?

Again, I don't really remember too many specifics. That was a literal lifetime ago. I know my mum read to me, but I couldn't tell you what. We used to play a lot of games mostly. Some board games, some video games, but mostly just amusing ourselves outside.

Do you think when you publish your work next, will you stick to the same genre, or try and venture out?

I've actually already started the next instalment of Tales of The Hiole. I don't think I could ever be a "serious" writer. I enjoy the story more when it's a little bit fun, and a little cheeky.

Give us the weirdest fact about yourself!

I'm a certified Time Lord.

True story, I got ordained (oh, I'm also an ordained minister) with the Universal Life Church about 15 (ish) years ago, and have the official title of Time Lord David Duffy.

If you could spend an hour with just one author alive or dead, who would it be and what would you ask them?

This one's tricky. I never really want to meet any of them. When you're reading someone's stories, you're in their imagination. What people are like in their imagination is rarely the same as they are in person. If I could spend some time in the imagination of an author, I would be torn between three. Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, or Robert Rankin. I thoroughly enjoy(ed) getting lost in their worlds. They're fun, quirky, imaginative and engulfing. I don't even think I would ask them anything. I would just get them to show me around. Just so I could feel the excitement and passion that they would have when they tell me about their worlds. I love hearing people talk about things they enjoy. The feeling in their voice is intoxicatingly inspiring.

Your book reminded me of a sillier version of 'Horton Hears A Who' (a compliment by the way), how would you feel trying to make your debut novel into a family film?

I love that movie! My aunt and my wife keep joking that I should pitch my story to Netflix, have they been talking to you? Haha! Honestly, I think if someone approached me with an offer of making this into a movie, my brain would simply implode. It would be amazing, don't get me wrong, but I'm having a hard enough time wrapping my head around the fact that it's now a physical book.

Who would you say has been your biggest support in terms of your writing?

My wife, my kids, my aunt and my mother would be the biggest supports. I've been constantly pestering them throughout the whole process with everything from random paragraphs, to the whole manuscript. They have been outstandingly supportive, and have no problem telling me if something's rubbish so I know their opinions aren't just fluffed up compliments.

What's some advice that you feel you could give to someone who is a bit apprehensive to write their own novel?

Just do it. Even if you never publish it, write it.

Don't take it too seriously, if you enjoy your work it will always be easier and rarely feel like work.

If you get to the stage where you want to publish, keep your expectations low. Assume you will never make your money back. Assume your work is average. It sounds harsh, but if you expect the world and get Dundee, you'll be devastated and it may put you off any further ventures. Alternatively if you expect nothing, everything is a wonderful bonus. I don't think I would have enjoyed this process even half as much if I went into it expecting to make millions in my first 6 months.

(I'm not very good at motivational speeches. In case you couldn't tell.)

What has been your biggest accomplishment in life so far?

Oh, wow! I feel I should say something like "my children are definitely my greatest accomplishment." But i feel that restraining my personality just enough so that my wife hasn't murdered me in my sleep is a bigger accomplishment.

I think that, honestly, taking the massive leap out of my comfort zone to get this book published is my greatest accomplishment. The look of excitement on my daughters face when she saw the book. The look of pride she had when she took a copy into her school. It's honestly the best feeling ever.

Thank you so much for taking part in this interview with me, and massive congratulations for your publishing! I absolutely adored your book and the nostalgia feeling it gave me from my childhood, what can we expect to see from yourself in the future?

So I'm currently writing the next book in the series. The Hiole itself gets introduced as a character. There's a new creature for The Frox to help. There's also a mystery character thrown into the story. I can't really say too much or I'll spoil it (I'm an over-sharer), but I have so many thoughts and ideas for progressing this storyline that I need to continue.

It has been an absolute pleasure talking with you. Honestly, you have been so nice. I am really grateful for all your kindness and I'm so glad you enjoyed the book.


bottom of page