About the only thing I like better than Belgian chocolate is discovering a good book. Blown Away (A Marital Misunderstanding) blew me away. Supremely funny, wickedly twisted, all the more appealing because I could imagine this scenario actually happening. Needless to say, I couldn’t put it down.
I don’t usually feel like Julie Andrews, but I must have done something good because I was lucky enough to score an interview with the lovely and talented author, Deforest Day.
Without further ado, let us proceed with the interview.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Turn a profit before I die.
Day gazes wistfully at a calendar.
At 76, I need to get busy.
Which writers inspire you?
Lately I find myself rereading dead guys. John Updike, Faulkner, Elmore Leonard. This worries my therapist, but I think it is just simple memory loss. That, or today’s writers are all a steaming pile of—my therapists says don’t go there; I need to maintain a positive outlook during my Golden Years. I told him I’d have a lot more gold if I stopped seeing him, so I did.
So, what have you written?
I have written, he said wryly, dozens of novels. Published is a touchy subject, but since it is just the two of us I will confide. August Ice, a mystery, was published thirty years ago, when an editor at St. Martin’s Press had a momentary lack of judgement. The publishing world is a pack of sheep, and one of them at Carroll & Graf followed his mistake by publishing two more. You can look at the covers at here, but thankfully they are out of print.
What are you currently working on and what is it about?
Funny you should ask. I’m attempting a series of shorter humorous works, aimed at the attention span of the modern reader. I tell ya.
Day says this in a rather skillful imitation of the late Rodney Dangerfield. It ain’t easy, competing with 140 characters.
I always say, my next book is going to be written in emoji.
What drew you to write in this genre?
I published Blown Away, a dark domestic comedy, on Amazon. Sales were so stagnant President Trump used it as an example of a swamp that needed draining. So I dashed off a short story called The Nose Knows, staring two characters in the novel. Duane Munch and his bloodhound partner Bugle Boy. Sales of it skyrocketed into double digits, and I was off and running. A Nose for News quickly followed. I am furiously working on a third, and hope to earn enough for both a night on the town and bail money.
How much research do you do?
I found that my ‘style’ has changed with the advent of the internet and Google. I probably use it a dozen times a day, researching small things that give depth to a story. I recently researched 1940’s women’s hats, and the value of a a first edition copy of Little Women. (five figures, so check you attic)
When did you decide to become a writer?
I never consciously made a decision, I just started ‘writing’ around the age of five. At first I was following in the tradition of Homer, telling stories aloud as a way of holding my parent’s attention, because they ignored my demands for candy and comic books. Then came works on paper, done with crayons, and were one-page illustrated stories. Jimmy Crad was one.(spelling is still a challenge) My father always made up stories to amuse me, and the natural competitor that resides in small children responded with ones of my own.
Where do the your ideas come from?
The Idea Store. A guy runs it out of his van, in the alley behind Kinkos.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I start with a character, and then watch where he takes me. Before he gets too carried away with the story I make notes, and try to put some controls on where he goes, and who he interacts with. It’s a bit like Second City improv. What looks effortless takes a lot of practice.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
It’s all hard, until you realize it’s done indoors, with no heavy lifting. (That’s my take on life. My mantra is “Life is good, considering the alternative.”)
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Does a short red dress?
How are you publishing this book and why?
Amazon, because at my age I don’t buy green bananas. Finding an agent and then a publisher takes years. Which is another way of saying never. . .
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
I doubt if many buyers read the reviews on Amazon.They just glance at the stars and the numbers. My second hard cover thriller (A Cold Killing) got a very nice review in the Sunday NYT. There was no notice of a disturbance in the force.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
My first Book Tour was set up by the publisher, and consisted of a table outside a bookstore in a local mall. There were three of us, and I discovered the other two were self-published by a vanity press. (This was decades before Amazon.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I think it is a good idea to include the first chapter of another book, with a link to Amazon.
Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
YES! Short of setting yourself on fire in Times Square it is the best way of getting attention.
Excuse me while I make a note to return that fire-proof suit I just bought.
How do you relax?
I think you are too young and innocent to learn the answer.
What is your favorite motivational phrase.
“I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man with no feet.”
What advice would you give to your younger self?
“Stop staring out the window. There’s no money in writing fiction.”
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Buy a pair of Nikes, and then Just do it.
When you develop characters do you already know who they are before you begin writing or do you let them develop as you go?
If you create interesting characters they lead the way. And sometimes a walk-on will steal a scene, and then demand a larger role.
Where is your favorite place to write?
My desk in front of the keyboard. That’s where the rubber hits the road. But every place else—awake or asleep— is where the dreams are born.
Thanks for meeting with me today, Mr. Day, and extra thanks for the laughs.
Readers in the need of more humor therapy should head straight over to Day’s Amazon page