Sunday, January 29, 2006

Me Am Interviewed

Sometimes it is strange living the life of Bizarro John Dalton. Longtime readers may remember my discussion of the real John Dalton, who studied at the prestigious University of Iowa, has an acclaimed novel and lives the artistic life in North Carolina, while I toil over Bigfoot scripts and live in several square miles of rustic cornfield in Indiana. Recently I came across an interview of the real John Dalton, and liked the questions. So now I am going to answer them for myself.

What was the book that most influenced your life or your career as a writer?
Probably Catch-22, which I read and re-read as a teen and young adult; the dark comedy, the philosophical elements, the bursts of senseless violence, the absurdity of it all, has stuck with me and sent me back to it from time to time even as an adult.

What are your ten favorite books, and what makes them special to you?

1. Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, 'nuff said.

2. Catcher in the Rye by JD Salinger, represented a time in my life like it does for most people.

3. Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo helped point me politically.

4. A Bend in the River by VS Naipaul is simply haunting, probably my favorite book I've read as an adult.

5. Vengeance is Mine by Mickey Spillane opened my eyes to the pulp world that I still love today.

6. The Naked and the Dead by Norman Mailer is one I thought a lot about at the time.

7. Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut, 'nuff said.

8. The Haj by Leon Uris because it's the first book my wife gave me to read when we were dating.

9. Cotton Comes to Harlem by Chester B. Himes, showed me how to blend philosophy and genre works.

10. When the Waker Sleeps by Robert Sheckley, still my favorite sci-fi book, and drove my childhood, along with Heinlein's Have Spacesuit Will Travel, which is cheating and making this go up to eleven.

What types of music do you like? Is there any particular kind you like to listen to when you're writing?
I like a little of everything from blues to bluegrass to classic country and classic rock, as well as 70s Soul; my two favorite albums to listen to for inspiration are Out of the Blue by Electric Light Orchestra and The Fifth Dimension's Greatest Hits on Earth. My all-time favorite album is Blood on the Tracks by Bob Dylan though sometimes it hurts my heart to hear it.

If you had a book club, what would it be reading?
I have been recommending The Kite Runner to everybody lately.

What are your favorite kinds of books to give -- and get -- as gifts?
I love getting comic book TPBs. I love giving nice thick anthologies.

Do you have any special writing rituals? For example, what do you have on your desk when you're writing?
I prefer sitting at a desk rather than with a laptop, and let my wife use the laptop. Depending on the season, I like the murmur of baseball in the background. A good Vanilla Pepsi close at hand is welcome.

What are you working on now?
Polishing up some older work and getting ready to gird my loins for the research on a new project.

Many writers are hardly "overnight success" stories. How long did it take for you to get where you are today? Any rejection-slip horror stories or inspirational anecdotes?
I always say I had a long layoff between paydays, getting paid for a script I wrote for the David Letterman Scholarship in 1987 and getting paid for my next script in 2000 (though I did a lot of tech writing in between that). I have worked on about a dozen projects since then, with about half seeing fruition. I guess the horror story there is that 50 percent is a pretty good record for most scriptwriters.

If you could choose one new writer to be "discovered," who would it be?
My wife. She is better than I am and it's a shame I've made more money writing piranha and bigfoot and frankenstein movies than she has writing actual significant literature.

What tips or advice do you have for writers still looking to be discovered?
Work on craft, and don't wait for the muse to come and visit you while you are meditating under a tree in the woods in your underwear--you have to keep your seat in the chair and keep working. Always be proud of what leaves your keyboard.


william2233 said...

I'm finally a children's author took 6 years of rejection. Many times over.LOL
I'm still trying to get out my name and someday I will.
Feel free to check out my site at;

Free stories for the age's of 5 on up. Anyway you all have a greatday...

Pete Bauer said...

I tried to write a novel, but I don't have the vocabulary to do it. All of my descriptions end up sounding the same.

So, I stick with screenplays, where the descriptions are economical and fit my lack of talent.

I just finished writing a feature and this time forced myself to work on it everyday, whether I was overly inspired or not and it made a big difference. Sometimes you can kick the muse out of bed earlier then she'd like if you work hard enough.