In a turnabout is fair play move, Ed Cox decided he wanted to interview me. I think he's honing his interviewing skills by playing with a captive audience: me. Here's his interview.
Marva Dasef, writer and interviewer extraordinaire, had been entertaining us with her tales and interviews for sometime now. Recently, she kindly gave me a loan of her interviewing microscope in the good faith that I needed it for an interview . . . little did she know that she was my intended victim all along . . .
EC: Hello, Marva. you've had you fingers in many pies lately with the release of "Tales of a Texas Boy", and the "Cadida" stories, not to mention your successful run of interviews and other shorter works. Do you plan to keep your horizons broad, or do you feel that one particular pie will ultimately present a plump that you'll stick with?
MD: Yes, I've been very busy with all this and more. And, boy, am I exhausted! Once all these pies are baked, then I'll definitely move on to something new. I do have a YA fantasy in the works and I write a variety of genres in my stories. I'd like to write more stories, of course, but I'd love to work up the energy to write a novel. Heck, don't all writers hold that out as the Holy Grail? It makes you feel all grown up and such.
A nice man who bought four copies of Tales (see how nice) said he was looking forward to Tales of a Logger. He knows my father (the narrator of Tales of a Texas Boy) and has heard a few of his exploits over a 50-year career in the logging industry. Sigh. Here I am an environmentalist and my father wanted to clearcut Oregon. Fortunately, he didn't succeed but it's not like he didn't try and still has schemes going at age eighty-five.
Okay, now I'm rambling. Next question, please.
EC: So what did your Dad think of "Texas Boy"?
MD: Oh, he loves it. He doesn't display his emotions. Tough guy and all that. But that he keeps giving away copies to everybody is pretty good evidence that he likes it. Darn it. He insists on buying them from me, so he gets them at my cost.
This is a good place to point out that the reason I self-published is not because I couldn't sell Tales through the normal channels. After all, seven of the stories were picked up by on-line and print journals. It's a timing matter. My father is eighty-five. Although he's in reasonably good health and might live to ninety or older, I couldn't take the chance that he'd never hold his book in his hands.
A publisher has accepted Tales for ebook. Eventually, it might sell enough ebooks to get print publication. As we know, small presses don't sell huge numbers. It could be an ebook for too long. Besides the ebook doesn't even have my personal touches like the old photos illustrating the stories. Some are family pictures, but there just weren't enough to fit the stories. My Aunt Dorothy made off with all the photos and who knows where they are now. We don't have much contact with her kids since she and her husband both died.
EC: It's funny how photographic memories get lost that way, and it seems to be a reoccurring theme with many families. Do you find researching fiction based on fact harder or easier than the Speculative Fiction you write? What are your research techniques generally?
MD: Most of what I write, I do at least some research. The amount depends on the genre, of course.
When I'm writing science fiction, I'll research quite a lot. I don't want anything too fantastical in it. I look at astronomy, theories on FTL, androids, space stations, things like that.
I research fantasy, too. I started the Cadida series with just my own ideas. Once I got going, I started to incorporate the mythology of ancient Persia and Babylonia. I've found the Encyclopedia Mythica a wonderful source on all mythologies.
For Tales, I researched a lot. My father provided some bare bones of stories and I had to provide the settings and make sure what I added to flesh out the stories was historically accurate for the period. You wouldn't believe how long I spent on how to crank start a Model T. For Texas history, I found the Handbook of Texas Online a great source of information. Every state should support such a thorough reference. Many probably do; I just happened to be researching Texas.
My research technique is probably just like everybody else: Google. I've also collected a variety of links to general information, such as on-line encyclopedias. Wikipedia is wonderful, but if you're going for hard facts, you need to follow up elsewhere to verify the information is true. Usually, I follow the outside links on all articles to make sure.
EC: You mentioned earlier that your ultimate goal is to write a full-length novel. Any firm ideas cooking away at the back of your mind?
MD: A barely simmering thought, if anything. I'm toying with the idea of a tell-all (but fictional) novel about early Silicon Valley, specifically the beginnings of a certain computer products store (hint: begins with Comp and ends with Land). Why, you might wonder? I was there, working with the people who clawed, lied, and cheated their way into becoming multimillionaires. Sex, drugs, rock-n-roll, court cases, off-shore accounts--all the elements of a real potboiler. But first I have to learn how to write sex scenes. That's hard to do with one hand clapped firmly over my eyes. Hey, I write kids' books; the adult stuff embarrasses the hell out of me.
However, I know people who write adult (ahem) books. Maybe they'll give me some hints.
EC: Would that be taking tips from Jackie Collins, or a grittier approach, say like Chuck Palahniuk's "Invisible Monster"?
MD: Uh. I guess I'd have to go read something by the two authors to answer the question. I think I read something by Jackie Collins when I was a teenager. Seemed soapish to me. I saw the movie Fight Club and Palahniuk is a lot grittier than I could ever write. Answer: neither one. Chuck Palahniuk and I are both University of Oregon alums. That's where any resemblance between us ends.
EC: Ok, side-stepping the bad question, it sounds as though you're keen to delve into unfamiliar territory. Do you feel that seeking out new areas and techniques is an important part of being a writer? For you, is it a conscious effort, or part of a natural process?
MD: Definitely. I've seen writers who succeed at one thing, then just keep repeating themselves. This includes some pretty famous authors. It's absolutely fun to sell your work, but it's even more fun to sell something you've never done before. Yes, I want to move on to ideas different from anything I've done before.
On the other hand, I like to come to some feeling of completion on a project as well. I've got six Cadida stories lined up with Sam's Dot Publishing. In every story, I've deliberately left an opening to go to a new adventure. I've got ideas for a couple more of these, but I'll need to close it, tie up the loose ends and move on.
With the Tales of a Texas Boy stories, I've tried to wrap up by publishing the stories in a single book. My father just told me another bit the other day. I'm waffling on it. Write more or just leave it as a job well done? In a year or two, I might be ready to write another Texas Boy story, but not right now.
That's why I'd like to try something more adult. I've got a few horror stories out that I wouldn't want kids to read. I feel the need to stretch myself in that direction and any other directions that arise. I know some authors writing erotica. It's intriguing. Can I even do that? Why not try and see what happens?
EC: Now you have quite a few interviews under your belt, what's your philosophy on interviewing, and how does it feel to finally be under your own microscope?
MD: My philosophy is to encourage the interviewee to say whatever is on their mind, but to try to direct it to their current work. Nearly all my interviews have been for authors with just-released books, so that definitely sets a direction. On open-ended interviews, such as this one, I like the back and forth with emails we've done. I think I'll use it in future interviews on my blog.
I didn't feel like a bug on a slide, so you must be a good interviewer. ;-) Thanks for the invitation.
EC: Thanks for the compliment. Let’s get speculative: you're given one single genie's wish, and it has to be used selfishly - Go!
MD: My first thought is the fortune of Bill Gates, J.K. Rowling, or even Queen Liz. Then, I realized I couldn't be completely selfish if I was that rich. My first urge is to start giving money to people in need. My second thought is to have the writing skills to be a world renowned author. Darn it. Too much work even if you're a great writer. Besides, I'd get all that money and start giving it away.
Third is excellent health, which means I'd live as long as possible and not regret still being alive into my hundreds. Then, it occurred to me the evil genie would make sure I was dirt poor and living on the streets my whole life. You can't trust those genies, you know. I've come to the conclusion it's impossible to have a completely selfish wish. Anything truly selfish will eventually make you miserable. So, my wish is "Go away and leave me alone, you rotten genie!"
EC: Let’s coin a Marva favourite, shall we? This is where you get to say anything you like.
MD: I'm a very privileged person to be able to spend my time writing stories. I'm enjoying the writing, the interaction with other writers, and even marketing my books. Well, that last not so much. I hope that people read and like what I write. My purpose in doing this is not to become a famous writer, since that's not likely to happen, but it's nice to have a small, but loyal, following of readers who like what I do.
I've written and sold fantasy, science fiction, horror, childrens, humor, and even an essay or two. That I've had some success in so many different areas makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.
I'd especially like everybody to read at least one story from Tales of a Texas Boy. I'm rotating stories on the Excerpts page of my website and there are a few available through links on the Tales page (http://marvadasef.com/). If you enjoy one, maybe you'd enjoy them all.
EC: Marva, it was an absolute pleasure talking to you.