Monday 8 February 2016

INTERVIEW: David Dubrow: Part One

Ladies and Gentlemen, it gives me the greatest of pleasure to welcome you to an interview with David Dubrow!

I have wanted to do this interview for a long time. Not only because in my opinion Mr Dubrow is a fantastic author that, again in my opinion, should be getting more airplay than he does, but also because he is one of the good guys. A gentleman that would give you the shirt from his back and the last piece of wisdom he had left in his brain.

If you don’t know a lot, or indeed anything, about David Dubrow, then read on. He answered everything I threw at him in a brutal and honest fashion, giving you a perfect insight into the man behind The Friday Links!

Part One, tonight, sees David answer some questions on his life in general, his writing and his influences. Part Two, on Tuesday, will be specific questions about his books, The Blessed Man and the Witch and his new one, The Nephilim and the False Prophet. Night three, on Wednesday, will see my review of the latter, which Mr Dubrow hasn’t even seen!

Nothing left to say other than go grab some nibbles and a drink and sit back, but most of all……enjoy!

CoaR - So I know a little bit about David Dubrow, but tell everyone a bit about yourself in general. Give us more detail. Give us some dirt on Dirty Dave?

DD - Dirty Dave. Heh. I’ll save the best dirt for the dreaded Ten Confessions, those questions of yours that make more successful writers than I quake in their hypothetical boots, but I’ll tell you a few things about me that most people don’t know. In my early- to mid-twenties I regularly practiced Zazen (Zen Buddhist meditation), but fell out of practice and then just stopped doing it, one of those youthful decisions I regret to this day. I absolutely can’t stand mayonnaise in all of its forms, including its tarted-up cousin Aioli, which makes eating in restaurants a (literal) gut-check at times: don’t ruin perfectly good food with that stuff.

Also, some of my favorite movies include Easy Money with Rodney Dangerfield, Real Men with James Belushi, and Shakedown with Peter Weller. Oh, and I teared up at the end of Random Harvest when Ronald Colman said, “Paula!” 

I can still hear it now. The line, not my quiet sob.

CoaR - Apart from having an obvious talent for it, why writing? Why decide on writing as a career?

DD - I of course appreciate the compliment there. My love of letters started with the bookshelves in my parents’ house: massive, floor-to-ceiling structures, stacked two and three deep with books. Mostly fiction, ranging from Leon Uris to Rex Stout to Lawrence Sanders to Philip Roth to hundreds of others. As a kid, you look up at all those books and can’t help but be awed. My parents kindled a love of reading in me at an early age, and as a can-do sort of person, I decided that I would make a career of writing books someday.

CoaR - Do you have a normal, pay the bills job as well?

DD - I did, but I left a highly successful career in publishing to be a stay-at-home dad to the new-born we adopted, a decision I have never once regretted.

At first it felt odd to not have a “real” job, as I had been employed at various jobs since I was fifteen years old. Now I work hard every day to be a present husband and father, and to build my career as a writer, and time goes by in an eye blink. I have nothing but the highest respect for those writers who have a nine-to-five and, despite the pressure and frustration and exhaustion of daily work, not to mention family responsibilities, continue to write. They deserve every success they achieve.

CoaR - Philadelphia then Colorado then Florida. Were you on the run from something or just like to travel? Where is your favourite?

DD - I moved to the mountains of Colorado as a younger man because it was a massive life change that scared me, and the only way you grow as a person is to do things that make you uncomfortable, even frightened.

It was there that I met my wife and started a family. As the years passed, we found that we missed the beach (my wife’s also a former East Coaster), so when a career opportunity beckoned that took us to warmer climes and proximity to the ocean, we jumped at the chance. My favorite place to live is anywhere with my wife and little boy, so I’m always lucky.

CoaR - Take us through your process for a story. How do you start it and follow it through to the final product?

DD - I liken it to building a body: I write a series of notes that become the skeleton, and from there I develop an outline: the organs and muscles. After a more detailed rewrite of the outline, I write the first draft: the skin, as it were. Several drafts and edits later, I’ve got a book. I need all those notes and outlines: without them, I’m adrift (to mix metaphors).

CoaR - How do you keep track of your ideas? Do you carry a notebook with you everywhere or write stuff on the back of your hand?

DD - Neither, actually. If something comes to me that I like, it’s not necessarily a good idea. Just because I like it, it doesn’t make it worth keeping. Good ideas, the ones that stick with you, will wait until you’ve got time to write them down.

The trick is determining the difference between talking yourself out of a good idea and refining it through contemplation.

CoaR - You run a very successful and interesting blog, here, full of reviews, blog posts and your famous “Friday Links”. Where do you get the time to do this alongside the writing and family?

DD - Blogging is extremely helpful in developing writing discipline: you can decide that you’re going to write every day (or every other day), but if you don’t put words down, you’re not doing anything. By blogging, I’m building that all-important writer’s platform and proving to readers that I’m here to stay. I do my best to have the early week’s blog post written over the weekend and the mid-week’s blog post done in the early mornings.

The Friday Links are my way of celebrating the great content that writers give to the world every week, and to show my appreciation for those men and women who produce regular pieces on subjects of interest: bizarre movie and book reviews, dark fiction, strange occurrences. I’m always looking for good, current content for the Friday Links, so if you’ve got news, please drop me a line.

CoaR - What do think of the whole horror / indie / book blog and website thing? Do you think it’s worthwhile and productive?

DD - There are a lot of very high quality sites out there: they consistently produce good content, they’re easy to read, they promote a unique point of view. Like CoaR. Horror as a genre is a bit more decentralized than science fiction or fantasy, and needs grassroots fan support and independent publishing to stay relevant in an ever-growing pool of entertainment choices.

My only concern is the tendency of some sites to create cliques of authors and fans, and then maintain those cliques under the guise of promoting only “the best.” Don’t get me wrong: everyone’s got the right to like who they like and boost what they want to boost. If you’ve got good books, you’ll find an audience; you just have to work at it. Cliques are pretty much inevitable when dealing with fallible humans, so take what you read anywhere with a grain of salt.

CoaR - I know you like a good horror story. What do you think of the horror book world at the minute? Do you think, like many, that it’s on its way back?

DD - Honestly, I didn’t know it went anywhere or was in a place to come back from. I got into horror in those heady days of the 80’s when King and Barker were fresh and new and in every airport bookstore on the planet. Horror’s weathered the storms of zombie tales (I wrote a zombie book myself so I’m not knocking it) and vampire stories, sparkly or otherwise, and it’s still a vital part of literature today. The publishing industry is in such a state of flux as a result of digital publishing that we can’t say for certain where the horror genre will end up, but it will always have an audience.

CoaR - Can you tell us if any of the characters in your books are based on people you have come across in your life or maybe even yourself?

DD - Nope, not even a little bit. I’m Jewish, and there’s an Ashkenazi Jewish tradition about not naming a child after a relative who’s still alive: it’s bad luck and implies that you’re waiting for the living relative to die. I view my fiction the same way by not mirroring real people in my characters, who tend to go through some horrible stuff. Also, it’s kind of passive-aggressive to write a story about someone you don’t like and then kill him off. If you’ve got a problem with someone, work it out, fight it out, or let it go.

CoaR - Who would be the authors you would give the credit of being your influences and who do you just not “get”?

DD - As a caveat, the following writers are inspiration; there’s no way I’m comparing my efforts to theirs: Paul Auster for his spare, lyrical prose. Jonathan Carroll for his characterization and ability to make the extraordinary commonplace. Graham Masterton for his fearlessness: there’s nowhere he won’t go, and he’ll put you right in the middle of it. Peter F. Hamilton for weaving together dozens of riveting storylines and making them all work in the end.

When it comes to writers I don’t get, it’s hard to say. People like what they like and that’s perfectly fine. I’m not one to look at someone else’s dinner and go, “Eeeewww!” More broadly, however, I guess I don’t get the genre of urban fantasy where vampires, werewolves, cambions, ghosts, and half-angel private detectives all live together with human beings in a modern world where magic works alongside technology. I know it’s hot, I know people love it, and I’ve got friends who write in that genre. I just don’t get it; it has too many moving parts for me to suspend disbelief enough to enjoy it.

CoaR - What’s the most difficult part of writing for you?

DD - All of it sucks. All of it is like pulling your own teeth out with slippery pliers. If it’s easy, it won’t be very good. The hardest part might be the outlining, though: wrestling those ideas out of your imagination, pinning them onto the page, and then putting them into a proper order to make it all work. That’s where I’m at now and it’s brutal.

COAR - That really surprises me. Your imagination really shines through in the books. Is it difficult to get them on paper because you think they might be too far out or just because they are too difficult to explain?

DD - I like for things to make sense, and for everything to have a reason. What I’m doing with the Armageddon trilogy is lifting the hood and showing everyone the machinery of the spiritual universe. So my ideas always need to answer the question, “If X happens, why?” Asking why five times is often a good way to understand something.

Why, for example, would someone willingly work for the side of Hell during Armageddon? And then I have to work back from there. So for me, it’s not enough to have a good idea: it has to have some logic to it, some internal consistency. That can be difficult to quantify past the, “Yeah, that’s cool, let’s do that” stage.

I know you were probably just getting in to this in a big way but alas that is it for Part One of the interview.

Please come back tomorrow night when David will be answering more questions about himself and his writing. He will also tell you all you need to know about the Armageddon trilogy.

In the past, he has laughed in the face of The Ten Confessions! How does he cope with them?

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