This morning, I set the controls in my transporter for Portland to visit this week's featured author. Now, I have an interesting situation because he really wanted to have the interview about half an hour before the beginning of the Daytona 500. He wanted to be sipping $8.00 beers and eating cheese-steak sandwiches in an air-conditioned box with an expansive view of the track. Also, he wanted to take time to boo the Busch brothers during their introduction. I thought it would be a great idea.
The Daytona 500 isn't until February and this is the beginning of November. Sooo, I've settled on a compromise. We're still in Daytona, and I've persuaded the track administration to let us visit for a short while at in the best box, AC on. I've brought in a couple of six packs for him, and since I'm not a beer fan, a few sodas for me. I've even managed to get some sandwiches delivered. In the box is a large screen TV with a video of the 2011 race in it's entirety so he can boo and cheer to his heart's content.
Sheesh, the things I go throuh for these authors...
1. Who is D.M. Anderson and what makes you the most fascinating person in your city?
I live in Portland, Oregon, which was recently voted the “most miserable city” in America, mainly because of the weather, unemployment, divorce rate and number of suicides. Since I'm happily married & employed, and do not plan on killing myself anytime soon, that leaves the weather, which is mostly rain. Living in Portland is like being on the set of Blade Runner 24 hours a day. It never bothers me like it bothers my wife.
In the real world, when I'm not fighting crime, I teach middle school English and mostly write stories for that same age group. I'm still trying to get used to kids asking me to sign their copies of Killer Cows while doing hall duty. I'm not complaining, though. I don't know any other teachers who are sometimes asked for an autograph during the school day.
2. Without revealing a deep dark secret (unless you want to), what one thing would people be surprised to learn about you?
As an author, I don't know what would surprise anyone, other than the fact I'm probably more inspired by movies than other writers. Not that there aren't writers who have inspired me, but my approach to writing novels is that they are “movies for your head,” with better special effects and no bloody 3-D.
As a teacher, a lot of people seem shocked that I have long hair and listen to death metal, especially at my age. But what can I say? I like being different.
3. What interested you to be become a writer rather than something else such as becoming an nuclear scientist?
Well, duh...nuclear scientists don't get paid for making stuff up. Nobody's lining up for a nuclear scientist's autograph. Besides, writing is a lot of fun, because you get to make up anything you want.
4. Writers are readers. With which author(s) would you enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
I think, since I love movies so much, I'd love to share dinner with Roger Ebert. I do not always agree with his assessments of films, but he's easily the best writer on the subject. I think it would be fun to debate things with him. After that, probably Stephen King. He's my all-time favorite author. I would try not to ask the usual dumb questions like, “Where do you get your ideas?”
5. If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would your book(s) be great company?
Well, if you were stranded with teenagers in-tow, I think my books could keep them amused so you wouldn't half to listen to them complain. Although all of my books are intended for young adults, the one thing they all have in common is that they are about extraordinary things happening to everyday ordinary kids. In the case of Killer Cows, kids might imagine what they would do if they had a flying saucer. But in the case of Shaken, my second novel about the worst natural disaster in American history, they might read the ordeal these characters go through just to survive, and then thank God it isn't them.
6. Share the Anderson process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
I do not start with an outline, mainly because I think writing is more interesting if I don't always know what will happen next. So I pretty much map-out the main characters then go to work cranking out the rough draft. Sometimes my ideas evolve into an story, sometimes they go nowhere. As far as research goes, I think it is important for some stories. For Shaken, I needed to do some online research about how earthquakes trigger tsunamis, as well as how fast tsunamis travel. I'm not saying Shaken is a 100% accurate depiction of such a disaster, but it is important that the reader feels like what they are reading at least sounds plausible.
My writing schedule varies, depending on my day job and other obligations. I do try to write for a couple of hours each day (with weekends off during NASCAR season). I think it's very important that any would-be author writes on a regular basis, even on those days when they may not feel quite so inspired. That whole notion of waiting until your inspired is ridiculous. If you really want to be a writer, part of you has to look at it like a job.
Editing and rewrites suck. I hate 'em. And I've never met any writer who thinks otherwise. But hey, that's what separates the wannabes from the committed. I revised Killer Cows several times before submitting to anyone, and at least four more times after signing a publishing contract.
7. “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Your process may not work for me. Any advice?”
Start with the fun stuff! Beginning a story is the hardest part, especially if a writer has so many great later scenes mapped-out before-hand. So why not start with those great scenes and worry about exposition later? I've discovered that getting to the 'good' scenes first actually increases the chances I'll finish the actually story.
8. I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.' What is your philosophy of life?
I guess, since I just recently recovered from a serious illness and almost lost my life, I'd have to say my current philosophy is “Every day above ground is a good day.” It's a line from the movie, Scarface, which I hated. But whenever things aren't going exactly as I'd like them to, either in writing or my work, remembering that line always puts things in perspective.
9. Please tell me you’re not going to stop writing. What’s next for you?
Right now, I'm working on a few projects. I'm trying to finish up my third young adult novel, which is a horror story. I'm in the revision process and it's giving me fits, mainly because I totally scrapped the last 40-or-so pages and started over. This could either be my greatest book or the one that kills me.
I'm also putting together a collection of dark tales, most of which were published before in various small press magazines before I turned to young adult fiction. These stories are definitely not for kids.
10. Where can people find more information on you and your projects?
There's lots of info on my blog, D.M. Anderson's Free Kittens (http://dmanderson.blogspot.com), which is also an outlet for frequent lists, cartoons, narrative essays and updates on my writing career. It also features the occasional author interview. People can also go to the Echelon Press website (http://echelonpress.com ) or its young adult imprint, Quake
(http://quakeme.wordpress.com/). There are a lot of great authors and books featured on both sites.
Probably the easiest place to find my published books and stories is at Amazon. Killer Cows is available there as both a paperback and Kindle edition. I'm pretty sure that's the first place Shaken will be available when it is released.