What is your earliest memory?
Reaching for orange-slice candies from my stroller in a Minnesota drugstore.
Name two things you appreciate that others should be made aware of?
The sound of an orchestra tuning their instruments before a concert.
Overgrown lawns and vacant lots.
What is your favorite word or phrase?
Why do you write poetry and fiction?
Original reason: When I was young I loved music and wanted to be a musician, but soon learned that I had a tenuous relationship with the physical universe and didn’t like the unwieldiness of instruments, peddles, cords, amps, etc., and the sounds they produced when I played them. Pen and paper are much more manageable, and though words are silent, they are not songless.
Next reason: I’ve always been hyperaware of death. For example, when I used to go to Laundromats in the nineties, I would wonder how many more trips to the Laundromat I would make before I died. (I have other similar examples: baseball games; pizzas; recess bells; and once, when I was really young, I sat under the dining room table and watched the second hand on a watch for an entire hour.) There’s a sense of urgency and importance in writing poetry and fiction that overcomes, or at least pacifies, my morbid reflection.
Latest reason: It keeps me out of trouble.
Gee, Douglas, your answers to number 4 are kind of sad. Are you okay? Do you find any joy in writing?
I appreciate your concern. Thank you. Actually, I do find joy in writing. During the writing of my latest book, Ghosts in Time and Space, for example, I had a dream in which I was told (by a ghost?) that, on the other side, ghosts refer to the living as “groundwarmers” because, well, I think one can easily imagine the reasons why. This brought me great joy. I mean, I sincerely doubt that I would have been entrusted with a dream like this had I not persisted in my writing.
So, Ghosts in Time and Space is your latest? How many books have you written? Where are they available for purchase?
I have written five books to date.
Four poetry books: Sugar Fish, Out in the Cold, Cold Day, Poems for Loners, and Ghosts in Time and Space.
And one novel: The Corruption of Zachary R.
All are or will soon be available via online retailers (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s, etc.). Zachary R., Loners, and Ghosts are also available for purchase at Small World Books in Venice. Support independent bookstores if you can. Or, interested readers may purchase any of my titles through Weak Creature Press. Please email [email protected] to purchase books directly or to make other book-related inquiries.
What are you working on now?
Two projects. First, I am about 40 pages into a first draft of my second novel, which expands on the lives of some of the ancillary characters from Zachary R. that many readers have expressed an interest in.
Second, artist Heather DeSerio (Precision Edge Design LLC) is transforming my chapbook Out in the Cold, Cold Day into an art book, which is scheduled for publication later this year. The poems in this chapbook are very short, somewhat macabre, and highly visual, so I think this is a perfect project for an artist.
Do you have any advice for writers?
When I am in need of inspiration, I often turn to Emerson’s essay “Self-Reliance,” which states:
“Insist on yourself; never imitate. Your own gift you can present every moment with the cumulative force of a whole life’s cultivation; but of the adopted talent of another you have only an extemporaneous, half possession. That which each can do best, none but his Maker can teach him. No man yet knows what it is, nor can, till that person has exhibited it. Where is the master who could have instructed Franklin, or Washington or Bacon, or Newton? Every great man is an unique. The Scipionism of Scipio is precisely that part he could not borrow . . . Shakespeare will never be made by the study of Shakespeare.”
Regarding the mechanics of writing, I try to adhere to Orwell’s six rules, which I won’t paste here for the sake of brevity.
What else do we need to know about you?
I like tennis and baseball. I’m looking forward to watching the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament next month in Indian Wells. And someday I would like to spend a summer and autumn visiting all the Major League stadiums, probably in an RV or something.
I also like spending time with my wife.
Any parting words for the readers?
I wish you well.