Author Dane Cobain started writing at the age of fourteen, progressing quickly from lyrics and music to journals, short stories, poetry and the first draft of an early novel. He studied creative writing at London’s Roehampton University, earning a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing before embarking on a career in social media marketing.
In 2013, Cobain launched SocialBookshelves.com, a website that soon became one of the top book blogs in the UK, and through this site, Cobain made the acquaintance of Jesse James Freeman, the former VP of Community Management at Booktrope Publishing. In 2015, Cobain’s debut novella, a supernatural thriller called No Rest for the Wicked, was released by Booktrope’s Forsaken imprint.
Cobain’s second book, a collection of poetry called Eyes Like Lighthouses When the Boats Come Home, was released by Booktrope Editions in March 2016, and this was followed by a novel called Former.ly in June of 2016 and a non-fiction work called Social Paranoia: How Consumers and Brands Can Stay Safe in a Connected World in August of 2016.
What was your childhood like? How did it help to shape who you are today?
Honestly, I don’t remember as much of my childhood as most people do – I’m very much a creature of the now. My parents separated when I was around six and so I grew up going between their two houses. But both of them loved to read, and I always liked reading as a kid, and so I guess that’s the main thing that shaped me. My writing as a whole is probably more shaped by the world around me.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
It’s cathartic. It’s hard to explain, I just don’t feel comfortable unless I’m writing or doing something creative. There’s no single aspect that I prefer above any other, but it is always nice to get positive feedback from my readers!
Who are your biggest creative influences?
I get a lot of inspiration from other indie writers, but anyone who does something creative and is good at it will inspire me. I actually dedicated No Rest for the Wicked to some of the people I know who inspire me, including musicians and filmmakers as well as other writers.
What was the inspiration behind your first published work, No Rest for the Wicked?
The general concept – of the evil Angels who pass judgement on people and eradicate them – actually came about as a nightmare that I had. I jotted down a few notes on it when I woke up, then developed it over a couple of months and shelved it for a while before coming back to it all and writing it up.
How have you grown and evolved as a writer from your earliest work through your most recent books?
I’ve learned a lot more about what makes a professional quality book. In particular, when I signed to Booktrope and discovered a community of other writers, I learned more than I ever could have imagined. I also work in marketing for my day job, and so I’ve learned a lot of tricks to get the word out, too.
What sort of research went into the writing of Former.ly?
This comes back to my day job in social media marketing. I know a lot about how social networking sites work – both in terms of their websites and the organisation of their companies – and so a lot of the research had already been done, in a way. I did have to fact check a few things here and there as I went along, and I had to update information once or twice ahead of publication, but other than that it wasn’t too bad.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of running SocialBookshelves.com?
It’s hard to say because there are so many. I get sent free books here and there, which is a lot of fun, and I also get to help to promote fellow authors. There’s also the fact that I get all geeky about statistics, and I like to be able to see how many books I’ve read, how many pages I’ve read, etc. Last time I checked I was the 44th most prolific reviewer in the UK!
Has your career as a social media marketer affected your personal opinions of social networks or online privacy? If so, how?
I suppose it has, in that I find it hard to figure out what my views might have been if I hadn’t started working in social media marketing. When it comes to privacy, my views are relatively middle of the road – I guess it’s sort of analogous to my views on free speech, which are that you should be free to say what you want but you should have the common sense to not say something stupid. With privacy, it ultimately comes down to being as private or as public as you feel comfortable with, but also using common sense so that if your settings are public, you don’t do something dumb to make yourself regret it.
What’s the best movie you’ve seen recently?
I don’t really do movies – I have them on in the background sometimes, but I’m usually writing at the same time. I don’t go to the cinema much, either. I think that the last movie that I watched was Marley & Me, because I’d just read the book by John Grogan and wanted to see the adaptation. I preferred the book.
What are you working on next?
How long have you got? I have a bunch of stuff on the go at the moment, including a couple of new poetry books, a detective novel which will be the first book in the series, and an anthology of new writing from 21 different writers that I’m editing and organising. But the next one that will actually be released is a horror novella and screenplay called Come On Up to the House. There’s going to be an announcement about that at midnight on Hallowe’en – you heard it here first!