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The Story of How To Be Dead

So, once upon a time, I had an idea for a series of 3 novellas telling the story of Death and the problems he had trying to sort out the undead.

“I’ll bash them out over the course of a year,” I thought. “It’ll be a nice little project to keep me out of trouble.”

Four years later, I’ve just published the last part of that story.

It all started easy enough writing the first novella. It was called How To Be Dead (after a Snow Patrol song). If you haven’t read it, you can have it for free by clicking here.

People really liked it. That made me very happy. “I should probably write the second one,” I thought.

Then I was diagnosed with a seriously massive heart condition. You know when a footballer drops dead on the football pitch? That’s the bad boy I’ve got. There were hospital visits. Medication. Implants. Wires stuck into my heart.

But I’m now technically a cyborg. Which is actually the childhood dream come true.

I’ll be honest, there were grim days contemplating my own mortality. What would my wife and kids do if I wasn’t around tomorrow? Who’d remove the Billy Joel albums off my iPhone before people discovered them?

Then I thought, “Hang on. I’m writing comedy books about death. I can probably use this.”

This may go some way to explaining the number of Billy Joel jokes in the books.

When you stare in to the Abyss, sometimes the Abyss stares back. So you wave to the Abyss. Then you realise the Abyss was actually staring at something over your shoulder and it all gets a little bit awkward.

And then you just bloody well get on with it.

Then an agent got in touch to say that he loved the first novella and did I want to turn it into a novel and be represented by him?

“Yes! Of course!” I thought.

So I left my screenwriting agent and signed with the new agency with ideas that i would be An Important Novelist. And I wrote a novel. Which I wasn’t completely happy with.

Then the agent decided he didn’t want to be agent anymore.

So I was left agent-less and holding a novel I didn’t know what to do with. So I decided that since I’d had an idea for 3 novellas, I’d better start the second one.

That was called Paper Cuts (after songs by Nirvana and The Boy Least Likely To). Because I like you so much, you can have that for free as well by clicking here.

People seemed to like that a bit more than the first one.

“I’d better write a third one,” I thought.  So I did.

It’s called Old Haunts (after a song by The Gaslight Anthem). You can get that here if you’re in the UK.  Or, if you’re in the US, here.

People seem to be liking it a bit more than the second one. Which is a trajectory that any writer would want.

Now I’ve dragged a story that’s been banging around my head for half a decade kicking and screaming into the world, I’m not sure how to feel. Perhaps because I don’t want to leave these characters behind and I’ve got more stories about them to tell. Perhaps because I have an office full of books I need to post out to the awesome Kickstarter backers. I don’t know.

But this chapter of my life has reached an end. There’s some people I should thank:

Everyone who supported me on Kickstarter from the beginning – I wouldn’t have done this without you. You rock.

If you’ve downloaded the stories, or tweeted, or Facebooked or blogged about them – You, too, are awesome.

If you’ve got in touch with me to tell me that you’ve enjoyed the stories, thank you. You don’t know how much that means to me and how much it helps when it’s the middle of the night and I have a two hour commute to work in the morning and I just can’t think of that last joke for the scene.

And my wife (who probably won’t read this), who has looked on me doing this with a mixture of bewilderment and patience. She knew I had to do this, even if she’ll never really understand why. I love her very much. She puts up with a lot.

And my kids (who I won’t let read this). If it wasn’t for the Three Infinite Monkeys, these books would’ve probably been written a lot quicker but the gaps in between wouldn’t have been even a tenth as much fun.

I’m a writer now. I always have been. I don’t get embarrassed muttering “Yeah, I do” when a friend tells someone “Dave writes books, y’know?”

Sure, it doesn’t pay the mortgage. I hope one day it will. Right now, it’s a bit of pin money at the end of the month. But some force has always driven me to take this stuff in my head and stick down on the page ever since I could hold a pen.

That’s what makes a writer. Writing. Just bloody well getting on with it.

So, I’ll be getting on with the next story. It’s a feel-good comedy about alien invasions. I promise I’ll be quicker with this one.

This was just meant to be a quick post to say “Hey! The new book’s out!” but things quickly spiralled out of control. Sorry about that.

I’ll have a glass or two of wine tonight to toast Death, Dave, Anne, Melanie and Gary. I hope you do too.

C’mon. It’s Friday.


  1. Clive Sommerville says:

    Loved the series, and am looking forward to reading whatever you write next. Got very little work done today, in fact I went home at 1.00 just so I could finish Old Haunts.
    Keep writing, hope there’s no more health scares & good luck.

    Ps. I also have several Billy Joel albums.

  2. Rhiannon Jones says:

    I really liked the series, it is great that you have more ideas up your sleeve in regards to the series you have all ready wrote, I am also looking forward to what ever you write next, you have a new fan here.


  3. Nick Grant says:

    This is really inspiring and useful. I just found your blog and there’s things here I’d like to know more about – like how you got going with Kickstarter – but I can probably find somewhere on your blog.

    Amazing that you’ve written so much. I read the chapter about Death that you just published.

    I wrote my first novel last November and I’m going to write another one this November. I’m a little like you, in that I too have had to confront my own mortality. So interesting to read your story and I can’t help but draw parallels with my own life.

    You have another avid reader and fan.

    1. mrdaveturner says:


      Thanks very much! Really appreciate the time you took to leave a comment. I keep meaning to write up the Kickstarter stuff at some point with hints and tips and things. It’s bloody hard work but worth it in the end I think!

  4. Ken usman-smith says:

    Just devoured the first 3 and then number 4 which had a different taste and texture, not better or worse, just different. And equally enjoyabel.
    Liked the order you place words in, liked it a lot, and thanks for The stories you have launched into some of the spaces in my life.
    Carry on regardless, die hard with a kindle…

    1. mrdaveturner says:

      Thanks Ken!

      Glad you liked number 4. I was a bit worried about the change in taste and texture. I shall continue to place words in the seemingly random order in the future!

  5. Claire Burt says:

    Hi Dave.
    I’ve just finished ‘How to be dead’.. Loved it.
    I was enjoying the narrative and humour so much when I started reading, I was pleasantly surprised to find it had a cracking story to it too!
    I’ve not come across such an enjoyable reading experience since Douglas Adams.
    Thank you so much.

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