Welcome to the one hundred and sixtieth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with comedy / satire blogger, novelist and poet Daniel Silver. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello Daniel. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Daniel: My father was a writer by trade for many years, and I always was attracted to the field. My mother was also quite talented in the dramatic arts; the combination of the two clearly left a big influence on me. I started writing when I was very young, short stories for school and such. It was something that came fairly naturally to me. As I grew into my teen years, I wrote song lyrics for the bands I was in and dabbled in poetry. I kept writing as a hobby and never stopped. I started my comedy website in about 2005 and then began toying with the idea of writing a novel thereafter.
Morgen: I love comedy – that and crime are my two favourites to read / write. Ooh, and NaNoWriMo’s coming up in a couple of weeks… an ideal opportunity for anyone ‘toying’ with a novel. :) What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Daniel: Generally, I write comedy and satire on my blog: www.dangersilver.com. I also write poetry and post some of it online at www.danielbsilver.com/poetry. I wrote my first manuscript for a novel over 2007-2008 and that was recently published via Oak Tree Press. I am working on my second novel currently.
Morgen: Ah yay, Oak Tree Press… hello old (new) friend. You’ve done lots of things, what have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Daniel: As stated, my novel and Internet stuff is my published catalogue. I haven’t seen my book on the shelves yet, but I just recently got a hard copy and it was exciting. I ordered more to shower myself in them.
Morgen: I’d be like that… empty a bookcase shelf just for them… you could pretend you’re in a bookshop… or put them on a table and write out a ‘Just arrived’ poster. OK, maybe I’m better off sticking to eBooks. How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Daniel: I try to keep the “Danger Silver” brand light, silly and funny.
Morgen: light, silly and funny is good.
Daniel: I regularly post on Twitter under that name and have some loyal readers of my comedy site. Plugs for my more serious work usually come from my agent, Laura Rucker, who is a superwoman of PR for someone who has an unrelated full-time day job.
Morgen: Ah yes… work. Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Daniel: I won the Oak Tree Press “Cop Tales” contest last year, which is how the novel went into print.
Morgen: Oh yay! Well done.
Daniel: It was an honor, to be sure. I’ve entered in a few poetry contests but repeatedly crash and burn in that regard. Though this is annoying, it is always possible that my poetry just sucks.
Morgen: Or not. The trouble with contests is that not only do you not know who you’re up against you don’t necessarily know what the judge will like. I’ve certainly disagreed (quietly) with some judges’ top choices before (even if I’ve not been in it). Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Daniel: Not really. The Danger Silver thing is a joke, and everybody knows my real name. I would be totally floored if anybody ever referred to me as “Danger.”
Morgen: Oh I don’t know that sounds a bit 007 secret agent to me… which leads me nicely back to Laura, your agent. Do you think having an agent is vital to an author’s success?
Daniel: Were it not for her I doubt my manuscript ever would have reached the light of day. So that’s a resounding YES.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process?
Daniel: Cop: A Novel, my book, was a Kindle book before it was in print. I have nothing but good things to say about the eBook thing. My only advice is to be very, very strict about the editing because typos in that medium will keep an author up at night.
Morgen: Ah but the good thing is that you don’t have to wait for a reprint to correct it / them. Do you read eBooks?
Daniel: I read eBooks quite often, mostly on my snazzy phone. It’s very cool to have a device with me at all times which offers instant entertainment. You can’t beat the price, either.
Morgen: Isn’t it great? A win, win, definitely. What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Daniel: My first real acceptance was with Oak Tree Press. Prior to that, I had a silly story published in a fitness publication called The Performance Menu. While a graciously accepted nod, I always wanted to be in print. It has been quite a thrill to get there. Any further acceptance will be similarly appreciated, but I guess I will have to report back on that.
Morgen: Yes, please do. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Daniel: I signed a contract with an agency who told me that my book was the next Choirboys. Said agency painted a grandiose picture of film deals and such. Curiously, after going through all the hoops to sign the contract, the agency disappeared into thin air and never returned my calls.
Morgen: That’s terrible!
Daniel: It was a pretty rough feeling, getting built up so high and then hung out to proverbially dry. Obviously, I survived though. All in all, I think it was for the best to hook up with Oak Tree Press.
Morgen: From what I know of them (and their authors) I’d say a resounding YES. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Daniel: In addition to my ongoing web stuff, I’m writing another novel called The Disaster Drill. It’s a ‘bromance’ about two paramedics who are terrible with women. It’s pretty raunchy and I am cracking myself up as I write it. I do hope that I’m not the only one who sees the humour in it.
Morgen: Well I definitely like the sound of it so far. Do you manage to write every day?
Daniel: I don’t manage to write everyday. I wish I did. That’s the problem with working, having a girlfriend and a dog that needs to be walked. Also, I have all these comics and video games competing for my attention.
Morgen: Work, dog… yes. Comics, video games, girlfriend not in my case but there are always other things. What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Daniel: The most I’ve ever written in a day was on an airplane.
Morgen: Oh, wow.
Daniel: I’m a master of airplane writing. I love it, because there’s nothing else to do but get up and go to the bathroom a bunch of times and annoy the flight attendants. I can pound out several chapters between SFO and Hawaii or New York.
Morgen: I’m a terrible flyer but it probably would help. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Daniel: It’s a real thing. My father used to talk about it when I was very young. I’m lucky in the regard that I do not write for a living, so I have the luxury of being able to wait it out. Other than that, I really don’t have any clue what I would do. I hate it when it happens.
Morgen: See earlier reference to “always other things”. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Daniel: It totally depends on the length of what I am writing. For the Danger Silver site, I tend to come up with and idea and vamp on it. But for longer stuff, like this new novel, I have a basic outline of the plot written, one that obviously is not set in stone but offers a good go-by.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Daniel: I model my characters after people I know. That’s the fun thing about aging in the big city: meeting so many people and having an endless name-bank to draw on. If I have an actual person as a basic reference for a character, then I tend to think the character will be much more believable.
Morgen: It certainly does help… as long as you don’t meet anyone too perfect. Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Daniel: Laura Rucker, agent extraordinaire.
Morgen: Ah, yes. Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Daniel: I edit quite a bit. I’m way too much a stream-of-consciousness’ type of guy to be methodical enough in a first draft so as to avoid going back and punching up the script.
Morgen: Everyone has their own method and stream-of-consciousness sounds like you get fair chunks down. What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Daniel: I get blind drunk.
Morgen: Now that would make for interesting stories.
Daniel: Just kidding. Usually, I’ll make sure all the chores that have to be done are, in fact, somewhat done-ish.
Morgen: (Too) easily done.
Daniel: Then I just fire up the old netbook and see what my CPU spits out.
Morgen: That’s a clever CPU. So do you write mainly on the netbook or does paper get a look-in?
Daniel: I only write notes on paper. My handwriting sucks after all these years in public service. I much prefer to type. I took typing class in junior high and that proved to be the single most useful thing I ever learned (aside from how to drive).
Morgen: I’ve been typing (secretary) for twenty-<coughs> years so, although I quite like my handwriting, it’s SOOOO slow. What sort of music do you listen to when you write?
Daniel: It varies. It can’t be anything that I will sing along to, otherwise there will be giant paragraphs of song lyrics on the page in front of me.
Morgen: Me too. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Daniel: I am a first person guy so far. I’m also very dialogue heavy. I’m not married to this though, so at some point I might try to branch out.
Morgen: Dialogue is good though, it speeds the narrative (as the experts would say). Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Daniel: Meh. Not really a fan. I’m not brilliant enough to be able to do that in fiction and have it add anything to the piece. In non-fiction, yeah, I’d say to go ahead. But, as for fiction…? It’s just not my forte.
Morgen: They bring mixed feelings so best left unless you really want to, I’d say. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Daniel: Several, border-lining on many.
Morgen: Oh dear. Maybe you could revisit sometime… but then it sounds like you have enough ideas ongoing. What’s your favourite aspect of your writing life?
Daniel: I love that I have the ability to write and that there are some people out there who enjoy what I produce. It feels good to make art that speaks to people, however small that demographic may be.
Morgen: But hopefully growing now you have an agent, publisher… second book in the making. And least favourite?
Daniel: I don’t like that I have so little time to devote to the craft.
Morgen: Oh yes… that has to be mine too.
Daniel: I’d honestly like to be able to answer that writers block question with an informed, succinct method as to how to beat it. Other than busying myself with other tasks until it goes away.
Morgen: Most of my other interviewees have said the same thing so I’d go with ‘informed’. Distract the brain seems to work. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Daniel: Not to be an elitist or a snob, but I am pretty baffled at some of the stuff that winds up on the bestseller lists, fiction specifically. I should probably have gone to college, worked as an intern in DC, and then written a non-fiction book so I could be on the Daily Show.
Morgen: A lot of it is luck, I think. Having the right thing at the right time… easy. I’ve not read any Dan Brown but writers say he’s not the best author going but he writes a great story, which is what readers want. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Daniel: My dad wrote this line in one of his movies: “A writer writes, always.” Also, go to college, work as an intern in DC, and then write a non-fiction book so you can be on the Daily Show.
Morgen: You’re only on books 1 and 2, plenty of time for the Daily Show. What do you like to read?
Daniel: Comic books. Cyberpunk. Sci-fi. Thrillers. Gritty, noire cop dramas. Non-fiction books about exceptional people. Poetry. Stuff that doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Morgen: A great selection… I can’t see your brain getting bored with that choice. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Daniel: I like www.thesaurus.com. It can be a good push over a mental speed-bump.
Morgen: I like that image. In which country are you based?
Daniel: I’m in San Francisco, California, USA.
Morgen: Ah, where the great NaNoWriMo started. Do you find being US-based a help with letting people know about your work?
Daniel: It’s probably helpful. I’m really not sure. Maybe I should be in New York to really make it? Anybody care to weigh in on this? Not that it matters, because I love it here and I’m not leaving!
Morgen: I know someone else (hi J.D.) who lives there and feels the same. I only know what I’ve seen on ‘Charmed’. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Daniel: Not so much. Again, it’s more of a time thing than an issue of willingness.
Morgen: Where can we find out about you and your work?
Daniel: Here are a few online resources about all things Daniel B. Silver:
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Daniel: For me, the future probably holds limited distribution and readership. For Danielle Steele, it holds full ownership of one of the Hawaiian Islands, probably Oahu.
Morgen: See earlier reference to “plenty of time”. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Daniel: Hang in there, writers. If you weren’t malcontents you wouldn’t have anything good to say.
Morgen: Thank you Daniel. Is there a piece of your writing you’d like to include here?
Daniel: Here’s a poem called,” My Father’s Voice”.
I sing with my father’s voice
Somewhere between tenor and alto
In the space between old and young
And like a closed electrical loop it echoes
From my mouth to my vibrating eardrums
I write with my father’s hand
Scribing his poetry and prose
Descriptions of his passion and his loss
And my blocks are copies of his
When my mind makes my hand stop
I love with my father’s heart
From uncertainty to conviction
Then around the loop again
His failures and transgressions I emulate
When lovers turn into friends
I draw these parallels with relative ease
I suppose it’s because I am male
And he, quite obviously, is too
But, Mom, you have to know I realize
That all I am I get from you
Definitely writing what you know, thank you again Daniel.
Daniel B. Silver is a cop in San Francisco, a writer in his apartment in San Francisco, and can frequently be found in San Francisco doing things involving baseball, motorcycles, pretty girls and / or whiskey. Laugh with him or at him at http://Dangersilver.com. Read his schlocky poetry at http://danielbsilver.com. Follow him on Twitter @DangerSilver.
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