Des Birch lives in Norfolk UK with his wife, Julie. He is a self-professed writing nut, shark nut, wild about the natural world and is motivated to empower young people. Des admits to being frightened of heights, bears, and hagfish; an odd combination he will admit, but reality is often stranger than fiction.
He has raised his two children on his own, been in shark cages, stroked big cats, jumped off a mountain, SCUBA dived the Red Sea and lived in other European countries. If asked why, Des will smile and say, “I enjoy living life to the fullest.”
Des does not write about super heroes or people with special powers. He would much rather take ordinary people and place them in extraordinary situations, and record how they react.
Des has always written in one form or another but in 2006 while living in Spain, he wrote his first novel, The Diary of an Innocent. A couple of years later he moved back to England and married Julie, with whose help and support he continues to write.
This is the second book in the Dark Water’s series. It sees Jane, a twelve year old girl who loved to read about superheroes, suddenly able to fly through the sky and rest on the rising thermals. However, Jane soon discovers that all creatures are affected by life’s challenges and she works hard to fit in and learn. After deciding she no longer wants to become a superhero, Jane is told that she is one already.
Another tale charting the rocky road through the rite of passage into adulthood.
From being cast out from the group, to losing his way in the dark lake at night-time, Ben will never betray his friends. Even when he feels a vicious fang slowly piercing his flesh, he knows what he is doing is right. He will never submit to the bullies, racists or indeed anyone who tries to steer him from the path he is taking. Ben is growing up very quickly and soon he gains many followers. This leads to a multitude of challenges and to one of his friends giving his life for Ben. As an eleven year old he manages to avert a war and bring pride to different communities.
For Ben, falling into the lake and entering into different species presented many challenges, but the rewards will stay with him forever.
Beyond Dark Waters plots a young man’s rite of passage into adulthood, seen from the viewpoint of different species in and around a lake.
- Could you tell us a bit about your most recent release and why it is a must-read?
Above and Beyond Dark waters is the second book in the series and sees a young Jane enter into different species. Following on from the first (award winning) book, it tackles leadership, responsibility and many other challenges we all face growing up. Once again, the reader is learning while being entertained, right from the atomic world, to the challenges often faced when starting at a new school. A must for any young reader.
- What is your favorite part of this book?
My favourite part is Jane’s speech as she addresses the forest as a blackbird.
What can you tell us about your first book?
Beyond Dark Waters is one of the few books which seeks to help young people through the difficult process of growing up. It covers many difficulties in life encountered by everyone, not simply the young. Racism, bullying, drugs etc. all impact on our lives and this tale walks us through these challenges, from the perspective of other creatures. Sometimes sad, often funny, Beyond Dark Waters also explains the cycle of life in very simple terms, emphasizing the inter-connectedness of everything. All in all, Beyond Dark waters not only entertains, but also educates and can be enjoyed by any age group.
- In addition to being a writer, do you have a day job? If so, what is it?
I am a welder by trade, I studied for a BSc (Hons) Open out of interest but I am a writer by passion.
- What does your typical day look like?
I get up in the morning and have a bowl of cereal and a cup of tea. Then I drop-off Julie at work, and go on to my place of work. Here I physically work and mentally write until 16:30 when I leave work, pick up Julie and drive home. Then I am free to write. Whether or not I actually do any writing depends on a number of factors. Basically, I find writing such a mentally draining process that very often I simply don’t want to begin it after a day’s work.
- What do you love most about the writing process?
Reading passages to Julie and the ‘Phants (two fluffy elephants who at this moment are sitting beside me ‘helping’), as part of the ongoing editing process.
- Of all the characters you have created, which is your favorite and why?
I love every character as I write about them. It is easier to love when you can see the challenges characters have had to overcome to get them to the point of the story.
- Are your characters based off real people or did they all come entirely from your imagination?
Difficult to answer, as characters we meet in life impact on our everyday thoughts and of course writing. The short answer would be no; I don’t directly base my characters on real people.
- What is the biggest surprise you experienced after becoming a writer?
The sudden plummet in confidence between telling people about my books, and actually submitting one to a publisher.
- Since being a writer, what has been the best compliment?
There are three. The first a review from a professional writer which ended with the words: ‘… There is such a strength in this story that will make you wonder how our culture would be different if this book were mandatory reading in the classroom’.
The second was when I won the ePublishing Writer’s award of Merit, which included the words:’ Beyond Dark Waters goes beyond this expectation and should be mandatory reading for all people.
The third and probably the greatest compliment was a comment by a reader that, although she had never been to the bottom of a lake, I had described it exactly as she had always imagined it. I had hardly described it at all; simply gave her enough information to own the image herself.
That is high compliments for any writer. Good for you!
- If you could ask one question from any one person, living or dead, what would it be and from whom?
I would ask Gertrude Stein why she wrote ‘Useful Knowledge’. I swear that if I ever manage to get to the end of this book, then nothing will ever be impossible to me again.
- What is the toughest criticism given to you as an author?
I guess it would be a Troll review which simply stated: Bad; so bad you could die from the bad; do not read under any circumstances. I had to laugh!
- If you were riding in an elevator with a new writer,what wisdom would you bestow upon him/her before you reached the top floor?
Give up now on the idea of ever being published. There are no new writers. A writer will have had to write from the moment he/she learnt how.
- What is the most amusing thing that has ever happened to you?
Probably turning up at a fancy dress party dressed as a wizard, only to find out that my mates had conspired to tell only me that it was fancy dress. It was a just payback for all the pranks I had pulled on them over the years and it was a great night.
- What websites or resources have been helpful to you, as a writer?
The most helpful asset was investing in a decent writing program. I have used many sites for information on marketing, but still I feel I know nothing.
- Do you have any hidden or uncommon talents?
I have done many things in life: welding, teaching TEFL; SCUBA diving; studying for my degree etc, but the only thing anywhere near a talent that I possess is writing.
- What would the main character in your most recent book have to say about you?
Young Ben would tell me to re-read the book and learn its lessons.
- What is something memorable you heard from a reader/fan?
A lady once told me that her granddaughter was enjoying my book. That’s two generations and hopefully the start of many more.
- If money were no object, where would you live and why?
I would have a big house on the Norfolk Broads, complete with boat, so that I could hear the ‘Bobs’ humming. You’ll need to read the book to appreciate this.
- Currently, how many ideas for different books do you have going/jotted down?
There are lists behind various doors in my mind, but apart from the third in the Dark waters series, there is another book under the nom-de-plume Juliandes, which comes with a warning. I am also toying about with an inner city version of Dark Waters.
Oh wow! I’d love to read that one too.
- Where can we find you online?
Thank you so much for sharing with us today, Des. I cherish