Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fantasy Author Rachael Pruitt Visits

Today is a great day, because I bring to you fantasy author, Rachael Pruitt.  Ms. Pruitt is currently in a series of historical fantasy novels based on the Arthurian legend, specifically following the life of Guinevere.

I say a great day because even though I write mostly thriller and suspense, my first love for reading is the fantasy genre.  I look forward to reading Ms. Pruitt's current novel, THE DRAGON'S HARP.  For the historical fantasy lovers in our audience, I think you will also when we are done.  So without further audieu, please welcome Ms. Rachael Pruitt!

DAB:  Tell us about the time when you first realized you wanted to be a published author.

RP:     D.A. I believe I've wanted to be a writer ever since I was a little girl & wrote my first short story in 5th grade.  The story, as I recall, was composed in a rather boring geography class, and was all about a girl who had to save her family from a vicious tribe of cannibals.  She didn't succeed, I'm afraid.  But this whetted my appetite for tragedy & I immediately saw myself being interviewed by thousands of reporters & being allowed to cast Natalie Wood (then very much alive & beautiful) in the title role.

It was only recently, that I realized reporters would not be beating my door down just because I've published a novel!  It's been a real shock - but I'm coping :)

DAB:  Do you have a daily writing regimen, and if so, please tell us about it.

RP:     My traditional writing regime, when I'm working weekdays, is to wake up at least 2 mornings a week at the ungodly hour of 4 am, set a hidden alarm, & write for 2 hours.  This way, I feel as if I'm staying on track as a writer--but not totally killing myself by rising every morning before the roosters.  I then commit one segment of time every weekend (a morning or an afternoon) to do some more writing--without having to worry about a hidden alarm going off and ruining my train of thought!

I do want to add to your readers, D A, that, in my opinion, a writing schedule is a very individualized choice.  Some of us are night owls, some are morning larks.  The point is to 1) create a schedule or framework that works for you 2) experiment until it really works & is comfortable & realistic for you and 3) stick with it.  The third point is probably the most important of all--aspiring writers must have some commitment to setting consistent time aside to write--even if it's only a few hours a week to start.  Otherwise you'll never get past the starting line.

DAB:  Great advice!  So where do you come up with ideas for your novels?

RP:     One of my characters in "Dragon's Breath" (my next novel) says, "Stories are carried 'beneath the wind'".  And I agree.  To me, the world is filled with a never ending flow of ideas, characters, & situations that just beg to be put into novels, poems, & short stories.  As novelists, and as artists, we simply need to know how to reach for them & mold them in our own voice.

To be a little more specific:  My Arthurian novels, (5 in all, beginning with "Dragon's Harp"), represent my lifelong passion for all things Arthurian--most especially Gwenhwyfar & Merlin.  I also have several more epic fantasy books in mind, and one historical set in the Biblical Era.  These novels have all sprung from my childhood fascination with myths, legends & ancient history.

My additional writings tend to be memoir-based--I love being funny too--so chick lit's another genre I plan to explore!

So what do all these ideas & genres have in common?  I love people & have great admiration for women & men who consistently surmount all kinds of obstacles.  I'm also a keen observer of people & love to laugh and have fun, at the same time honoring our very human struggle to survive, to love, & to stand up & protect what we cherish.  These themes and this admiration find their way into all of my writing.

If you're ever stuck looking for ideas--just visit a grocery store on Saturday morning--or sit in a coffee shop or restaurant.  Take a local bus, eavesdrop on the get the idea.  Bring a notebook with you at all me, you'll have plenty of ideas!  Just listen & observe...

DAB:  Have you ever experienced writer's block?

RP:     Only when I allow myself to!  To me the best & most effective way to beat writer's block is to sit down & write--even if what you come up with initially is total crap.

D A, I truly believe writers' block happens when writers become afraid that what they produce won't be "good enough"--so they talk themselves out of writing one way or another.  This can take the form of procrastination, distraction, the "I'm too busy" excuse, and so on.  Bottom line is we--as writers--become afraid we're not "good enough"--and so we don't try.  Just keep writing when this happens--don't give in.  Also, for a good "pick-me-up" go to inspirational books such as Julia Cameron's wonderful THE ARTIST'S WAY, indulge yourself in a subscription to a publication like "The Writer", and invest in good books on the craft of writing.  Read these types of resources--or speak with a good friend (preferably another writer that you trust) if you find yourself "blocked".

I've been there & for me, the one thing that helps, above all, is to continue to write--and shut off any negative "self-talk" while you're at it!

DAB:  So true, Rachael!  So the next question is the eternal debate - outline or no outline when writing?

RP:     I believe this is another strictly individual choice that every writer decides for her or himself.  I am not an outliner--however I do write overall summaries of where I think my novel will go--I'm constantly surprised, of course!  I do, however, like to have an "organic plan".

I believe the only thing to watch out for, if you do choose to outline, is to make sure you don't make the mistake of forcing the characters to stick to your "outline" rather than adjusting your preconceived ideas to characters & plot twists that develop as a natural part of the magic you are creating on the page.

DAB:  Do you have a favorite character in THE DRAGON'S HARP?

RP:     Shh!  Merlin is certainly in the running :-) But this question is like asking me to pick a favorite kid--sorry D A, I just can't bring myself to choose!

DAB:  LOL!  Well then, do you have favorite authors you like to read and who have inspired you in your own writing?

RP:     Probably my all-time favorite author is Anya Seton (now deceased).  Her novel, GREEN DARKNESS, about star-crossed Tudor lovers reincarnated in the present (the 1968 present that is), may sound "old hat" now--but it was the first novel of its kind when it was first published in the early 70's.  GREEN DARKNESS remains one of the most haunting & powerfully written love stories I've ever read.  Other writers who have inspired me are fantasy author Charles de Lint, the early works of Stephen King, and historical novelists Sharon Kay Penman, Jules Watson, Pauline Gedge, & Donna Gillespie.

All these authors share three things in common that I've attempted to emulate in my own work:  fantastic characters, gripping plots, & a fantastic instinct for pacing.

DAB:  When I write, I have particular composers and music that gets me in the mood for certain scenes and characters.  Have you ever written to music?

RP:     Great question!  Sometimes I do like to listen to soft Celtic harp music as I write--nothing too distracting.  And, like you, D A, I often listen to music to get myself in the mood.  While writing "Harp", I discovered that when I was approaching a particularly tough scene, listening to the music of Loreena McKennitt, and the musical themes from Braveheart, Rob Roy, Lord of the Rings, &--of course--King Arthur :-) beforehand really helped.  Those themes & Loreena's beautiful voice & instrumentals really conjured the "Celtic grandeur" necessary for me to approach the toughest scenes in my novel.

DAB:  I saw on your blog the story about how THE DRAGON'S HARP first came into being on a beach twenty-five years ago.  Once you sat down to write, how long did it take to complete?

RP:  Once I really "got serious" about "Harp", D A, it still took me about 7 years, including research, to complete.  I don't anticipate taking so long with my upcoming novels!  For one thing, the original research I did for "Harp" regarding Arthurian lore and ancient Celtic & Welsh history and culture should hold me in good stead for its sequels.  I also feel a lot more confident as an author regarding plot and character development.

DAB:  So on that note, now's your chance - give us your fabulous plug for THE DRAGON'S HARP.

RP:     Thank you, D A:  Readers:  Here goes :-) :

"Before Gwenhwyfar became Queen--before Arthur met Merlin--a tribal Welsh princess met a young Heatherlands Mage.  Together, they will create a legend.

Inside a mist of beauty and brutality waits the Arthurian legend as you've never heard it before.  Enter the world of The Dragon's Harp, a realm of blood lust and vengeance, of spellbinding magic from the beginning of time.  The realm of Princess Gwenhwyfar:  a young girl torn between magic and desire, born with magical powers she can either wield to save her people from destruction--or deny to save her soul. 

First in a five book series of historical fantasy, Rachael Pruitt's unique take on a beloved legend reintroduces the mythic characters of Gwenhwyfar, Merlin, and Vortigern against the gritty backdrop of sixth century Wales, where scenes of shape-shifting and heartbreaking romance vie with torture, murder, and battle in a dragon-haunted land."

"From the first page I was drawn deep into Pruitt's beautifully-realized Celtic realm, so vivid I felt as if I'd stepped right into the tale and could not only see but smell, taste, and touch her creation. With shades of The Mists of Avalon, the story is a magical blend of Welsh and Arthurian myth, thrilling adventure, romance, and otherworldly enchantments - while also managing to be funny, earthy and believable. All the characters are so vividly rendered they soon lay siege to your heart, and you find yourself loving them, rooting for them, terrified for them, and utterly captivated by them.

The child Gwenhwyfar is brave and spirited, sensitive to the mysterious otherworld of goddess rituals, druids and dragons that lie just beyond the more brutal reality of her father's warriors and their bloody swords. The story leaves her as a teen coming into her powers - and under the spell of first love. I can't wait to see the woman she will become in future books. Bravo!"     
-----Jules Watson, bestselling author of The White Mare Trilogy, The Swan Maiden, and The Raven Queen

     Rachael Pruitt is a gifted storyteller, able to create vivid, three-dimensional characters in prose that is, by turns, lyrical and powerful.  Readers who enjoyed the novels of Parke Godwin, Persia Woolley, Rosemary Sutcliff, and Marion Zimmer Bradley will love The Dragon’s Harp, in which Gwenhwyfar comes of age; best of all there are four more books to come…     
  ---Sharon K. Penman, New York Times Bestselling author of Lionheart, Here Be Dragons, & Time and Chance

"Rachael Pruitt is a natural story teller, and her love of the Guinevere character shines through every page of The Dragon’s Harp. It's a pleasure to discover her take on this very old story."
                   --Persia Woolley, author of The Guinevere Trilogy.

The Goddess is most definitely afoot in this engrossing novel by author Rachael Pruitt. The Dragon's Harp courageously depicts the roles of mothers, daughters, queens, and priestesses in a time when men fought battles while women abided by a far more ancient law. The tale is woven with lyrical language that resounds with the hills, trees and rocks of a land where the mist between worlds falls easily away--one small step beyond a fairy stone.  
       Ms. Pruitt masterfully guides her reader through not only a mystical retelling of the Arthurian legend, but educates us with her historical expertise of the time.  Her attention to detail drowns our senses into this world where kings rule the land, but the land and all who live on her ultimately answer only to the Goddess.  I cannot recommend this novel highly enough.  Ms. Pruitt is a gifted storyteller with a powerful story to tell.
                                                              - Molly Padulo, writer and shamanic healer

And there we have it, dear readers!  Thanks again to Rachael for visiting the blog and for the great advice to our fellow writers out there.  I particularly could relate to the section where she mentioned the writer's block, as I too recently procrastinated writing a particular scene because I was sending a character to a place of which I'd only read and never visited.  The possibility of screwing it up had my confidence in the proverbial toilet and made wanting to write it daunting indeed.

For our historical fantasy readers in the audience, be sure and pick up a copy of THE DRAGON'S HARP and also contact Rachael Pruitt via her website, Facebook, and Twitter pages below.  Enjoy!

Rachael Pruitt is a writer, storyteller, and teacher with a lifelong fascination for Celtic mythology and the Arthurian legend.  Her Arthurian poetry has been published in Paradox magazine (2008 and 2009) and her article “To Dream a Dragon” appeared in the award-winning 2011 writing anthology, Many Genres, One Craft.  She has also published nonfiction articles detailing, “Myths for Our Time”©, a personal mythology process she developed while an Artist in Residence in the Pacific Northwest.  The Dragon’s Harp is her first novel, and the first in a projected series of five books following the life of Gwenhwyfar, King Arthur’s famous Queen.  You can also visit her on her blog tour below:

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

One More Time

Before my Kindle Select period is up, I'm going to offer RUNNING INTO THE DARKNESS free one more time.

If you haven't already picked up a copy, be sure to visit Amazon or click on the book cover here at the right to snatch up this novel this coming Saturday, April 21st.

You won't be sorry!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Mayan Sci-Fi Author - T.W. Fendley

This week I've had the pleasure of interviewing a fellow Midwesterner - T.W. Fendley, author of ZERO TIME, a fascinating sci-fi fantasy incorporating ancient Mayan culture.  As one who once desired to be an archaeologist (and who still enjoys the study of many elements of history), I was very intrigued by the premise of this book.  Plus it has an element that seems to be on so many minds since Y2K, the end of the world.  So please join me in welcoming to the blog, Ms. Fendley!

DAB:  Was there a point in your life that prompted your desire to write or have you always wanted to be an author?

TWF:  For many years, it was hard for me to decide which I liked best: art or writing. Even in college, I had a double major. As so often happens, the money ran out before I finished both degrees, but by that time I'd already decided that journalism was my calling (plus the job prospects were better). I've always earned my living by writing, mostly in corporate communications, but it wasn't until the mid-1990s that I decided to try fiction. A couple of things came together--today I'd call it synchronicity. My boss and I didn't see eye-to-eye on things, and at one point he said I "wasn't creative enough." Well, for me, insults don't get much worse, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Things improved between us after I got accepted at Clarion, one of the top workshops for science fiction and fantasy writers. About the same time, a co-worker told me she'd just found a publisher for her first romance novel. She introduced me to the Crescent City Writers, a great group of women who knew the ins and outs of publishing. They helped me take my first steps toward becoming a fiction writer.

DAB:  Where do you come up with ideas for your novels like ZERO TIME?

TWF:  Mostly I get ideas from reading about a wide variety of things: metaphysics, ancient cultures, science and astronomy. Sometimes I dream entire stories, although they often don't make sense by the time I get them written down. I like to write about the connections I see between things. A journalism instructor once dubbed me "Leap of Faith Teresa" because I intuited connections between things. Of course, you certainly check the facts if you're a journalist, but it makes for some interesting possibilities in fiction.

For ZERO TIME, the inspiration came while researching short story ideas at Clarion. I came across some information about the ancient American cultures--it was love at first sight. Although I've always been a history buff, this was new to me. I'd studied ancient Greece, Rome and Egypt, but never Andean and Mesoamerican cultures. I already had this setting in mind when I ran across a description of the sex-chromosome drive (SRY) in Matt Ridley's book, GENOME. I thought, What if people had this SRY disorder that causes 97 percent of the offspring to be female? Suddenly my characters became travelers from the Pleiades whose motivation for traveling to Earth was to save their race from extinction. And it went on from there. Some of the resources I used are listed on my website:
ZERO TIME: Behind the Story

DAB:  Do you ever have difficulty writing from the point-of-view of a member of the opposite sex?

TWF:  So far my point-of-view characters have been women, mainly because I want to portray strong female characters, not victims. When I write about male characters, usually I rely on something from my experience. I've been observing men for a lot of years <grin>, so I've heard and seen a lot. I haven't received much push-back from men who've critiqued my work, but I'm always open to constructive feedback.

DAB:  So are there particular men in your life for observation or are they just random men who cross your path?  Also, how much of "them" have you incorporated into the male characters in ZERO TIME?

TWF:  Hmmm. Not an easy question. None of the male characters are patterned on a particular person, but some of their actions are reminiscent of things that have happened. For instance, my husband is very romantic and brought me roses at the airport while we were dating (he lived in Florida and I was in New Orleans). Like Xpiyacoc, he would definitely remember promising me the starry sky and would bring me a blue rose in parting. Xpiyacoc and Xmucane are loosely based on Jamie and Claire from Diana Gabaldon's amazing OUTLANDER series, but my story quickly veers off the romantic path. That's also pretty typical of my real life. Thankfully, my relationships have vastly improved through the years.

DAB:  Who is your favorite character to write in ZERO TIME, and why?

TWF:  Usually I find Xmucane most appealing because she's a strong leader who listens to her heart. This sensitivity made it possible for her to respond appropriately when confronted with the unintended consequences of leaving her daughters and sisters. Sending her sixteen family members in small groups to places separated by 6,000 years was one of many sacrifices made to improve their expedition's chances of saving the people of Omeyocan from extinction. Xmucane's a take-charge kind of person, but it's never a matter of ego. Sadly, I guess such leaders only exist in fiction.

DAB:  What is a typical day of writing for you?

TWF:  Hmmm. I'd love to say that I'm incredibly disciplined and work on my novel every day at a certain time, no matter what. That isn't what happens. But unless I'm out of town, at the gym, at critique group or running errands, I am generally in my office. I usually have several small daily writing goals that fill the day--such as write for an hour or five hundred words (whichever comes first), edit a chapter or research a specific topic. Daily goals build toward my overall writing goals, which include finishing my next book this year, marketing the one that's published, finding an agent/publisher for my completed YA novel, and entering short story contests.

DAB:  I love it that you mention being at critique group, as I have found mine to be invaluable (we celebrate our ten year anniversary this year).  However, it seems very few writers anymore belong to an actual critique group, choosing either an online group or to go it alone.  How do you feel your group benefits your writing and overall experience as an author?

TWF:  One of the reasons I joined the St. Louis Writers Guild was to meet other writers. That's how I found two of the three critique buddies who reviewed the first two drafts of my novel. I met the other one at the local sci-fi/fantasy convention. Three of us have continued to meet every other week for more than five years. We've reviewed numerous books a couple of chapters at a time. I don't think I would be published without their help. There's simply no substitute for having someone you trust read your work and give constructive feedback. One of my critique buddies says you should always leave the session feeling inspired to write, and I know I always do.

DAB:  Tell us about the moment you received your first real fan correspondence.

TWF:  The closest thing I've had to fan correspondence so far was the first review I got on Library Thing from a reader who won my book in a giveaway. I'd received a couple of two-star reviews on Goodreads and was pretty discouraged. Then I saw the comments from his four-star review and knew this perfect stranger had "gotten it." I raced to tell my husband and sent off a few emails with the news. Although I try to measure success based on internal factors, sometimes the kindness of strangers makes the day a lot brighter.

DAB:  Okay, to outline or not to outline - that is the question.

TWF:  No question, no outline. At Clarion, one of my favorite authors, Tim Powers, talked about using colored index cards to plan his wonderful, complex stories. I'd love to do something like that--or at least be able to outline BEFORE I start writing a story instead of after I finish it. I keep trying from time to time, but it hasn't worked yet.

DAB:  I personally don't use an outline either.  In what ways does an outline just not work for you at present?

TWF:  Even when I have an outline, I find I don't use it. Occasionally I can pick up a plot thread or two, but that's about all. Still, it seems like such a good idea, doesn't it? What works best for me is stopping at the beginning of a new scene, with clear direction on how the action needs to continue. Then I have a starting place the next day. 

DAB:  How long did ZERO TIME take to put to bed?

TWF:  It depends on when you start counting. After I took early retirement and started writing full-time, it took a little over a year to complete the book. Of course, by then, I'd spent a decade doing research and had a pretty clear idea of who my characters were, etc.

DAB:  Care to tell us what is next on your writing horizon?

TWF:  I’m hunting an agent for my young adult contemporary fantasy, THE LABYRINTH OF TIME. Sixteen-year-old Jade Davis discovers she and the son of a Peruvian museum director are the only ones who can telepathically access messages encoded by an ancient race on engraved stones. Jade’s family vacation to Peru quickly turns into a quest to save humanity from fiery destruction. I’ve also started writing WHITE HERON, the sequel to ZERO TIME, which tells the master shaman’s story.

DAB:  Now's your chance - please give us a final plug for ZERO TIME.

TWF:  I'll just share a few words from two of my readers:
  • “For those who like to stretch their imaginations—and who doesn’t?—this novel is a fascinating and compelling read."
  • "Breathtaking scope, thrilling action!"
Thanks, D.A., for being a Party Host in my Virtual Book Tour Party! I hope your readers will visit the Party Page and "join the party." Here's how:
The ZERO TIME 2012 Virtual Book Tour Party is here!
To celebrate, T.W. Fendley is giving away a Maya-Aztec astrology report, a Mayan Winds CD, ZERO TIME tote bag and fun buttons. Check out the prizes and other posts on the Party Page.
3 ways to enter  (multiple entries are great!)
1) Leave a comment here or on any of the other PARTY POSTS listed on the Party Page.
2) Tweet about the Virtual Party or any of the PARTY POSTS (with tag #ZEROTIME2012)
Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical #fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @twfendley for a chance to win prizes! #ZEROTIME2012
3) Facebook (tag @T.W. Fendley) about the Virtual Party. (NOTE: tag must have periods to work)
Example: Join the Virtual Party for historical fantasy novel ZERO TIME by @T.W. Fendley for a chance to win prizes!

As Zero Time nears, only Keihla Benton can save two worlds from the powers of Darkness. But first she must unlock the secrets of Machu Picchu and her own past.

When Philadelphia science writer Keihla Benton joins an archeological team at Machu Picchu, she learns the Andean prophesies about 2012 have special meaning for her. Only she can end the cycle of Darkness that endangers Earth at the end of the Mayan calendar. As she uncovers secrets from the past, which threaten her life and those she loves, Keihla struggles to keep the powerful Great Crystal from the Lord of Darkness and his consort.
Xmucane leads an expedition to Earth to overcome a genetic flaw that threatens the people of Omeyocan with extinction, but she soon finds herself involved in a very personal battle that pits mother against daughter and sister against sister. With the help of the time-traveling Great Serpent Quetzalcoatl, she leaves the Southern Temples to arrive in present-day Machu Picchu as the expedition’s time-window closes.

Xmucane and Keihla work together as Earth and Omeyocan near alignment with the galaxy’s dark heart for the first time in 26,000 years. They must seize the last chance to restore the cycle of Light to Earth and return to the Pleiades with a cure, no matter what the cost to their hearts.

ZERO TIME is available at:
Ebook $4.99
Paperback $16.95
T.W. Fendley writes historical fantasy and science fiction with a Mesoamerican twist for adults and young adults. Her debut historical fantasy novel, ZERO TIME, was voted Best Science Fiction/Fantasy Novel in the 2011 P&E Readers Poll. Her short stories took second place in the 2011 Writers' Digest Horror Competition and won the 9th NASFiC 2007 contest. Teresa belongs to the St. Louis Writer's Guild, the Missouri Writers' Guild, SCBWI and Broad Universe.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Up Next - Author D. Harlan Wilson

Up next in the interview arena, I'm pleased to introduce you to D. Harlan Wilson, author of the "scikungfi" series DR. IDENTITY and CODENAME PRAGUE.  Prof Wilson has been a joy to work with on this interview, and I've laughed out loud several times through the process due to his straight-forward and "devil-may-care" responses to questions.  His candor has been most refreshing indeed!  So welcome, Professor.

DAB:  At what point in your life did you realize you wanted to be an author?

DHW:  Not until after college.  I got a late start.  I went to Wittenberg University, a small liberal arts school in Ohio, to play basketball, and I joined a fraternity, too, so I was more interested in partying and having a good time, although I majored in English, acted in plays, and wrote bad poetry.  Not until graduate school did I start writing fiction and realize it was something I wanted to do.  I have a Ph.D. in English from Michigan State University and two M.A. degrees, one in English from the University of Massachusetts-Boston and one in Science Fiction Studies from the University of Liverpool, all of which I'm very proud of, but none of which had much to do with fiction writing, focusing on the critical study of literature.  Fiction is something I started doing on the side at UMass-Boston, prompted by the one creative writing class I took there to satisfy a composition requirement.  Since then I've always done it on the side, and I still do.  At first I was enamored by the prospect of fame.  In my naivete, I assumed anybody who published books was a kind of celebrity.  And I wanted to be a celebrity - preferably a movie star, but a famous novelist would do.  This idiocy didn't last long, and soon I was writing because it merely fulfilled me as a burgeoning scholar, teacher, and artist.  I'm a far cry from a best-selling author, but I've established myself in my field, creatively, critically, and pedegogically.  Writing continues to fulfill me as a relative nonentity.

DAB:  I see you've written quite a bit - is there a favorite work of yours?

DHW:  Every new book I write and publish is my favorite book.  Then, in a matter of months, sometimes weeks, days once, I come to hate it, or at least conjure a healthy skepticism about it.  In recent years, I'm better able to tolerate my work.  Since about 2009 and the publication of a short novel, PECKINPAH:  AN ULTRAVIOLENT ROMANCE, as well as a book of literary criticism and theory, TECHNOLOGIZED DESIRE:  SELFHOOD & THE BODY IN POSTCAPITALIST SCIENCE FICTION.  Prior to 2009 I was still searching for my voice and what I wanted to be as an author.  I'm still searching.  Just not as much.  I'm unhappy with some aspects of my recent work, but not as unhappy as I am with older material.  That's normal, I guess.  Cliched even.  In a decade I'll hate everything from this period.

DAB:  Have you ever had characters you found difficult to write?

DHW:  Not really.  Every character I write - i.e., every round character, and they're difficult to come by in my corpus - is a version of me.  For better and for worse (emphasis on the latter), my personality is multifaceted, almost schizophrenic, but not clinically.  So there's a lot to draw on.  And my ego is such that I take great pleasure in writing about the vicissitudes of Me.  More difficult is finding the time to write.  I write every day, but usually for only 15-30 minute intervals, whenever I can squeeze it in.  I romanticize a life where, four or five days a week, I would have 2-3 hours to sit down and bang it out.  But then I probably wouldn't write at all.

DAB:  Do you have a character with whom you closely identify?

DHW:  The protagonists/antagonists in my first published novel, and the first novel in my "scikungfi" trilogy, DR. IDENTITY, or FAREWELL TO PLAQUEDEMIA:  the human Dr. 'Blah and the android Dr. Identity.  They are polar opposites - one a meek English professor, one a homicidal maniac - but both cut from the same stock, literally and figuratively.  It's all imaginary, of course.  But most of my "personality" unfolds on my mindscreen.  What emerges in the real world tends to be less than interesting.  According to my definition of interesting, anyway.

DAB:  Tell us about a typical day in your writing world.

DHW:  I'm an English professor and father of two small girls, and my wife is an English professor, so things can get hectic hectic, raising the girls, taking them to and from school, doing our teaching and writing, working out, etc.  Ideally I like to write in the mornings with coffee, but there's endless paper grading to do on non-teaching days; I spend most of my time reading student papers, and I write my fiction and criticism in the interstices, which are few and far between.  But the writing gets done.  My life would be much easier if I stopped writing altogether.  I'm going up for full professor this year, the highest academic rank in the United States, and at the university where I teach, technically I'm not obligated to produce any more scholarship, if I don't want to.  My writing has never been a means to financial ends, and it's rarely manifested as such, but that's never been why I've done it.  As much as I hate to admit it and sound affected, I need to write, and that's why I do it, if only for the intellectual and artistic challenge.  Blech!

DAB:  There's the eternal debate whether to outline or not.  What is your preference?

DHW:  Outlines are good, generally speaking.  For novels.  I always make them.  And I always deviate from them.  Massively.  But my outlines are loose, threadbare in some cases, and they invariably develop in tandem with the narrative.  For novels, my outlines essentially devolve into "notes" that I keep at the end of chapters, which are never written in chronological order.  For stories, these days, I just erupt (or cough) onto the page.

DAB:  How long on average does it take for you to write a novel from start to final edit? 

DHW:  Whether it's novels or fiction collections, anywhere from six to nine months.  I suspect that's average, but it's tough to say.  I know writers who compose novels in days, others in years.  It's really a matter of what authors want to do and what they have the capacity to do given time, intellect, imaginative prowess, command of language, etc.  I put care into every paragraph that I write and spend time thinking about its global implications on the narrative.  I like to think it shows, but most readers aren't interested in literary aesthetics.  That's fine.  I do it for me.  As many a reviewer has pointed out, I'm not writing for a wide audience.  Not that I'm oblivious to a readership.  I simply apply a heavy intellectual onus on readers and expect a lot from them.  Not a popular thing these days - has it ever been? - but I perceive my writing as art, with high and low arcs, and I'm not interested in readers who want cookie-cutter dynamics.  They have a billion other books to choose from.

DAB:  Usually authors are also avid readers.  What are you currently reading?

DHW:  I read more literary and cultural theory than fiction.  Lately I'm on a Lacan kick and I'm reading and rereading his seminars and books about his work on psychoanalysis.  Basically Lacan reinvents Freud through the sieve of structuralist principles.  His theories on language as the architect of identity, the psyche, culture, etc. has informed my fiction and criticism for years and I want to finally master it, which is the say, to become more fluid in it (the moment one becomes a "master" is the moment it escapes into the void).

I always have a novel or two going, though.  I just finished Daniel H. Wilson's ROBOPOCALYPSE, which I'm reviewing for the British science fiction journal Foundation.  The D. in my penname, also my real name, is for David, but a number of readers have mistaken me for Daniel H. Wilson, even contacted me about the novel, thinking the name is a permutation.  So I figured I might as well read it.  It didn't resonate with me at first.  Seemed like the same old shit.  But it grew on me and I've come to respect what Wilson's done, despite the fact that Spielberg bought the rights long before its publication and will surely turn it into some gloopy family-oriented blockbuster.  I lean heavily toward literary fiction, and as a science fiction author, Wilson's more of a Crichton than, say, a Gibson.  Still, ROBOPOCALYPSE is pretty good.  Wilson has a Ph.D. in robotics and weaves his expertise into the novel in interesting ways while telling the story through a sprawling pastiche of media and perspectives.  Tough to do well.  And unaffectedly. 

DAB:  Do you have any pointers for the authors in our audience?

DHW:  I have given many pointers in the past, but as I get older, I think they're more or less useless.  Writing is so subjective.  As is reading.  Most books are shit.  But most people like shit.  And there's all kinds of different shit.  So giving advice, essentially, amounts to:  Do this shit and (eventually, maybe) you will produce this shit, and people will consume the shit, and you, too, can make a living as a writer, living in your mother's basement, pulling in anywhere from $5,000-$30,000 per year (the average salary for a professional writer is close to $5,000).  But this doesn't account for my shit.  My shit is elitist, literary, anaphylactic, would-be high modernist (but in no way affected and prissy MFA-caliber) shit, and shit like that doesn't make you rich, it's "artistic" shit, and why would I give neophyte writers pointers on becoming a shitty artist like me?

Of course I'm jaded.  Jadedness is the end-product of any writing career, whether it's "successful" or "unsuccessful."  But I make a comfortable living as an English professor and I can say these things.  I suppose I'm not as jaded as I think, sometimes.  Sometimes, in fact - I'm happy.

DAB:  I hear you have something new you're working on for release later this year.  Care to tell us a bit about it?

DHW:  Later this year, a limited hardcover edition of the third and final installment in my scikungfi trilogy, THE KYOTO MAN, will be published by Raw Dog Screaming Press, who published the first two installments and several of my other books.  Then, in 2013, the paperback will follow in the wake of the regular hardcover edition.  I'm really thankful for RDSP.  They're a small press and have published some of the best fiction I've read.  Typically this isn't the case.  Most small presses aren't very sharp and publish authors who can't get an agent and/or can't get published by bigger, more lucrative presses.  But there are a few small presses like RDSP who take on writing that bigger publishers don't like because it's too innovative, artsy, experimental, iconoclastic, avant-garde, etc. - in other words, not fit for (du)m(b)ass consumption.  I consider RDSP as the Grove Press of its time.  Over the years they have published one after another badass, award-winning author.  I'm thrilled that they let me play in their sandbox.

As for THE KYOTO MAN, it's about a guy who transforms into the city of Kyoto over 10,000 times, terminally rupturing the fabric of society, the ecology, and the spacetime continuum.  Strange as it sounds, my agent originally cut a deal with a NYC publishing house to put it out, but I wanted to do it with RDSP, so I never signed a contract, even though I knew my agent, who will remain nameless, would "let me go."  Like always, though, he came crawling back.  They always crawl back...

And on that happy note, I just wanted to thank you again, Professor Wilson, for stopping by to visit my humble blog.  The interview process has been a distinct pleasure, and I hope our audience finds the frankness of your words as humorous and fun as I have.  I can think of several off the top of my head who will probably feel the same.  My abs thank you!

So for now, be sure and pick up a copy of DR. IDENTITY and CODENAME PRAGUE to read before the release of THE KYOTO MAN.  I look forward to reading these myself.  You can also find links below to purchase D. Harlan Wilson's works or contact him for further information.  Enjoy!

For a professor at Corndog University its quite acceptable to purchase a robotic doppleganger and have it teach your classes for you.  But how does it reflect on your teaching skills when your doppleganger murders the whole class?

Follow the Dystopian Duo (Dr. Blah Blah Blah and his robot Dr. Identity) on a killing spree of epic proportions through the irreal postapocalyptic city of Bliptown where time ticks sideways, artificial Bug-Eyed Monsters punish citizens for consumer-capitalist lethargy, and ultraviolence is as essential as a daily multivitamin. 

Since he assassinated the Nowhere Man, Vincent Prague hasn't been the same, haunted by the ontological impossibility of the kill.  His celebrity status has skyrocketed, however, and everybody wants a piece of him.  The MAP (Ministry of Applied Pressure) promotes him to Anvil-in-Chief, the catbird's seat of special agents.  Under the so-stupid-it's-a-genius alias of "Vincent Codename Prague," he works a case that leads him to the Former Czech Republik's Prague, a dark cirque du city where androids run wild, femme fatales chronically manhandle him, and a mad chef named Doktor Teufelsdrockh has created a Hitler/Keats/Daikaiju hybrid that would make Frankenstein's monster sing like a Von Trapp... In an overtechnologized world of constant reckoning, all Vincent has are his wits, his weapons, and a briefcase full of replaceable extremities to crack a mysterious code that, he soon discovers, resides within himself.

D. Harlan Wilson is an award-winning novelist, short story writer, literary critic, editor, and English prof.  To purchase his books, visit him online at and


Monday, April 2, 2012

Shout-Out to Sue

Last week I received an email from a fan by the name of Sue.  I'm always so flattered to receive correspondence from my readers - it means some people are actually reading their downloads! :-)

Anyway, I make it a point to respond to correspondence in a timely manner.  However, each time I've tried to respond to Sue's email I keep getting an undeliverable message.  Originally I'd typed a lengthy email - it came back.  So I sent a new email instead of a reply - it came back.  Then I shortened the email - it came back.  Lastly, I took out all links and most of the text to see if I could get anything to go through - what do you think happened?

Yup - it came back.

Needless to say, I've been frantic to try and let Sue know her email was important to me.  I hope she follows my blog and sees this.

So in response to hers and many other people wondering about the sequel to "Running into the Darkness", rest assured that I'm frantically working on "Piercing the Darkness" for release later in 2012.  Cover art is slated for mock-up in June.  Stay tuned to the blog for further updates as we get closer to release.

And always - keep those emails and comments coming.  Fan mail is fabulous!

So Sue - this shout-out is for you.