The Author/Human Interview – Rik Davnall (Heaven Can Wait)

  • on August 21, 2019

It’s the Author/Human interview, because you want to meet the human behind the story! Today I welcome Rik Davnall, author of Heaven Can Wait. Read right to the end for details of a giveaway!

First of all, thank you very much for agreeing to do this interview. I’m so proud to welcome you to my site!

Thanks for having me.

So, obviously you write or you wouldn’t be here. The question is, is writing work or pleasure?

It’s more like an obsession, even a compulsion. Whatever else I’m doing, I can’t help thinking up stories, and once I’ve thought them up they don’t leave me alone until I’ve written them down. That’s not a bad thing – I enjoy writing obviously – though it can be a bit disruptive. I’d love to make it my job, and I try to approach it as professionally as circumstances permit, but it does have to fit in with my two actual jobs, my PhD and my band…

What’s your ideal full-time job (apart from writing)?

Professional musician, playing drums, piano or both. For much the same reasons as I love writing; it’s about being creative and building a connection with an audience. If I have to think of something outside the creative industries, I’d probably go for university-level teaching in philosophy.

What are you doing when you’re not writing?

Playing music and reading are the two top activities. When I’m on my own I’m usually playing piano – living in a terraced house means I couldn’t drum without disturbing the neighbours. I also spend an unhealthy amount of time playing videogames, and notionally I’m reading for my PhD.

Indie or Traditional, and why?

I could give you such a lecture… but I won’t. I prefer to think of it in terms of rights-holder (indie) or rights-sale (trad) publishing, and I think there are some serious problems with rights-sale publishing in the digital age. The reason I’ve gone indie myself is simple – speed. The earliest I could hope to get my book on sale in traditional publishing, if everything went absolutely perfectly, would be about eighteen months from now. Instead, the book’s on sale now and I’m starting to get ready to edit the second, which I hope I’ll get out some time in November.

What/who do you read for pleasure?

I read mainly sci-fi and fantasy, with some biography mixed in. My favourite authors are Dan Simmons and Janny Wurts, though for very different reasons; Simmons’ books are fast-paced, breathless and more than a little intoxicating, whereas Wurts writes much more stately, epic stories and goes into her characters in a lot more depth. Biography-wise, I tend to prefer politicians and sometimes scientists. I’m currently re-reading Robert Jordan’s The Wheel of Time.

Did your book end up the way you intended?

Pretty much. The idea for ‘Heaven Can Wait’ came to me from a dream which only had a couple of scenes in it, but almost the entire structure of the story was fixed by those scenes, so from a very early stage I knew more or less where I was going. There are a few details which only became significant later on, mainly things that are foreshadowing for the sequels, but the actual story is pretty much that dream, unpacked.

Describe your book in three sentences.

The Non-Agency exists to help ghosts let go of this world and move on to the next life. When Tom wakes up dead one morning having drowned in the river, they take charge of him, but before long he’s fallen in love with Mary, the still-living daughter of the man who killed him, and decides he doesn’t actually want to let go. It’s YA(ish) fantasy in the style of Jonathan Stroud (‘The Amulet of Samarkand’) and Garth Nix (‘Sabriel’), both of whom I highly recommend.


Now for the important stuff. We want to know who you really are. These questions are designed to reveal the TRUTH OF YOUR INNER SOUL:

YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH! Okay, you probably can.

Are you right or left handed?

Left. Left is always better (you can make a political joke out of this if you must).

Do you prefer chocolate or parma ham?

Chocolate, unless we’re talking about a sandwich or pizza or something. I’ve heard of chocolate pizzas, but I don’t think it’d go very well with the tomato sauce.

Wine or whisky?

Both, provided they’re not in the same glass. I’m something of a booze nerd in (admittedly slightly lapsed) training. I think at a pinch, if I absolutely had to choose, I’d pick whisky.

Dogs or cats?

Dogs, very definitely. Cats and I really don’t get on; I refuse to accept any pet that ungrateful.

Coffee or tea?

I actually very rarely drink hot drinks – I tend to burn my tongue quite badly. That said, I don’t mind tea every now and then, but I can’t stand the taste of coffee at all. Vile stuff.

Favourite flavour of ice cream? (or frozen yoghurt, if you just HAVE to be different)

What kind of blasphemous heathen would pick frozen yoghurt over ice cream? I’m going to go with raspberry ripple.

If you ruled the world, what are the first three laws you would pass?

1 – Corporate personhood will be revoked (okay, I know this isn’t funny, but it’s something I’m quite passionate about. This is what you get for interviewing a philosopher). It will cease to be possible for individual people to escape responsibility for their actions.

2 – The burning of fossil fuels will gradually phased out and completely outlawed as infrastructure is established to replace it, as quickly as possible. Again, not funny, but important.

3 – Handshakes will be replaced with hugs. Universally.

If and when Armageddon strikes, what three items will you take into the fallout shelter?

A pocket dimension exactly like this one apart from the whole ‘apocalypse’ thing, some way of entering it, and a copious supply of raspberry ripple ice cream. Or, if it has to be things I own, my digital piano, a reliable power supply for it, and my piano stool.

Or, if I can *only* take *exactly* three things with me, I guess it’d be underwear, trousers and a jumper…

You’re dying and a vampire offers you eternal life – as a vampire. Do you take the offer?

If it doesn’t mean having to kill people, definitely. Life is too short and the universe too interesting to pass up immortality.

When you die (assuming you didn’t take up the vampire’s offer) what will you regret not having done?

Assuming I haven’t done it by then, skydiving, performing at Wembley Arena, and having kids.

Name three things Heaven has to have (otherwise you’re getting reincarnated ASAP):

Good company, good pianos, and bathrooms that feel warm even straight after you step out of a hot shower. I’ve lived in student accommodation for the last six years, and I’m really sick of cold bathrooms…

What three things should our world have that would make it a better place?

Hoverboards, glasses that double as a screen for your smart-phone, and a serious one: clean, cheap, renewable power on an industrial scale.

Last, but not least:

Dragons or unicorns?

I’m going to go with the MANLY option and pick dragons. Everyone knows horses are girly 😉

NEXT UP:  I’m sort of waiting for some beta feedback on ‘Some Kind of Angel’ 😉 [MS: Yes, I’m totally behind on beta reading and probably going straight to hell :S] Actually, in all seriousness I’m working quite hard at trying to catch up on my PhD work, and preparing for NaNoWriMo in November, when I’ll be writing the third book of the trilogy, ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’. At least, I will be if I manage to get all the ideas I have for it to sit in a straight line together…

Thank you very much!

Thank you 🙂

 Author bio:


  1. J. Davnall has been telling stories all his life, and thus probably shouldn’t be trusted to write his own bio. ‘Heaven Can Wait’ was written when he should have been reading for his PhD in philosophy at the University of Liverpool. He lives on *the* Penny Lane, in an attempt to channel any of the inspirational genius that might still be lingering there. When not writing or messing around on Twitter, he can usually be found playing piano, drumming with his band, or being dangerously obsessive about videogames.
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