In Good Company – Interview with David Kowalski

First published in the July 2007 issue of BOOKSELLER + PUBLISHER magazine (c) 2007 Thorpe-Bowker (a division of RR Bowker LLC)
What inspired the idea that changing the fate of the Titanic could change the course of the Twentieth Century?
Rightly or wrongly, the fate of the Titanic has been linked with the end of the Edwardian Age and much more besides. As an event which has reached the scale of modern myth, I felt it was an ideal launching point for a skewed vision of the last century.

Company of the Dead is a mix of genres – action, adventure, sci-fi, and it is also evocatively descriptive. Where do you see it fitting on the shelf? What other authors do you admire?

Frankly I’d like to see it on everyone’s shelf, as to where they might put it is a dilemma I have long had myself. As you say, it’s a mix of genres and deliberately so. I’d like to think of it as literature, I suppose. As for my tastes, they are quite varied. I love James Joyce and Marcel Proust, writers who lived for their words, but I equally enjoy authors like Stephen King and James Ellroy. There is a long list of writers I admire; what they hold in common to me is a desire to treat their readers as honestly and respectfully as possible.

The story is both complex and readable, how did you cope with a full-time medical career whilst carrying around such a massive story in your head?


This started as a short story. I had no idea how long it was going to take though I don’t regret a moment of it. I don’t know how to answer your question in any other way than to say I suppose I was living the story the whole time I was writing it. I found the complexity of that world an intriguing counterpoint to my day to day work activities.

Your characters (eg. Kennedy and Lightholler) are appealing and charismatic. Was it difficult to leave them behind once you’d completed the novel?

I’m glad you ask that because it makes me feel a whole lot less foolish about the feelings I have for those guys; Kennedy, Lightholler and the whole gang. It suggests that I can be excused for missing them. Having said that, various portions of the editing process brought them back to me. I’d been with them for almost ten years, so yes, it was hard to end that relationship.

What are you planning as a follow-up?

I am working in collaboration on a screenplay. There is also a novel I’ve had in the pipeline for the last five years. I will tell you two things about it. Firstly, it has nothing to do with Company. Secondly, whenever I discussed the premise of it with friends who were familiar with the way Company was progressing, they told me to abandon Company and start on the new one. I hope that bodes well.

Had you always intended to write for an international audience? I kept hoping for an Aussie to pop up!

I was waiting to see an Aussie myself, believe me. There were a number of characters in the book, slated to be Australian. Any attempt I made in that direction seemed contrived within the framework of the novel. The relationships they have and the things that drive the characters are intrinsically related to their cultural backgrounds, and I certainly did not want to make any token gestures for the sake of local markets. As for my intended audience – I wrote something that I thought I would enjoy reading. I didn’t want to be bound by borders or social interests.

One thought on “In Good Company – Interview with David Kowalski

  1. Interesting interview and I look forward to reading your book.I know what you mean about hating to leave behind characters in your novel. I just finished a collaboration myself and I’m reluctant to move on.Good luck,Taryn

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