What kind of writing do you do?
I am primarily a fiction writer. My short stories have a wide range of topics and themes. My novel, The Dance of Light and Shadow, while classified as a work of literary fiction, had a strong suspense/thriller bent to it.
Who are your favorite authors/writers?
While this is a straightforward question, I’m not sure the answer will be. I have a deep love of literature, as you might guess, and my literary tastes are wide-ranging. Certainly, one of my favorite authors is Albert Camus. The Stranger I would say is my favorite novel. I also have a deep love of Russian literature, so I am fond of Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, and Lermontov. I also love Gabriel Garcia Marquez, especially One Hundred Years of Solitude. I am a big fan of the South American writers: Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Paulo Coelho, Jorge Luis Borges, and Julio Cortazar. I would also have to say I have been heavily influenced by Franz Kafka. Three of my favorite contemporary writers are Anthony Doerr, Andrea Barrett, and Cormac McCarthy.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I just finished the first draft of my second novel, Dancing With Monsters. While I let it sit for a week or so before I begin rewriting, I have begun a new short story. Short stories are my true love, but I am glad I have tackled a couple of novels. Dancing With Monsters is a companion novel to my first novel, and since I promised my publisher three novels, another novel will follow Dancing With Monsters, which will leave the reader wondering what just happened? After they finish the novel, no doubt they will turn it upside down and shake it hoping more will fall from the pages. I guess I enjoy leaving the readers a little mystified.
What challenges do you overcome on a regular basis so that you can write?
Aside from the obvious challenge that confronts most writers (why do I torture myself?), I guess each day that I sit down to write, I have to face the fact that writing is a creative process, and as such, it can’t be measured by the standards by which we tend to measure other things. As human beings, we are raised in cultures that measure progress and success and failure. It is a natural thing to do. Without standards by which to measure these things, how would a culture or society continue to thrive? Writing cannot be measured in the same way. If we try to measure writing by standards of success or failure, we stifle the writer and suffocate the creative process. I have to continually tell myself that I cannot allow myself to be subjected to any kind of measurement. In order to keep my creative edge sharp, I must believe that I am not limited in any way or that my writing won’t be held to any standards or measurements. Writing must be raw. It must stink of the muck and mire, that stink our boots pull up as we slog through the black muck of the morass.
What would you say to someone who wants to write, but is hesitant?
I would say that most writers begin with a lot of trepidation and insecurity. It comes with the territory simply because it is just that, uncharted territory. There are no road maps or guideposts. It is rough, rugged terrain, but the vistas are worth the risks. As long as you write what is in your heart, it will be bright and new and worthy. All writers are scared but they must put their fears aside.
What impact do you hope your writing makes on the world?
As a writer, I must ask myself this question all the time, or why else would I put myself through this torture, but it isn’t an easy question to answer. I guess this is why I must ask it of myself over and over again. Why do I write? And what do I hope will come of my writing? I’m not sure my writing will have an impact on the world. It is more like a silent prayer. Is there a higher order? Maybe my writing is an offering to all that which I cannot see or understand. Living is a grind. Day in and day out we are faced with death. This is the ultimate destination. How do we continue on this journey knowing that it ends, just simply ends, without any message or moral or epilogue? Each life is a story. The tragedy is that none of us knows how his or her story will end. Writing provides the writer (and the reader) a glimpse into a world that by one means or another does have an ending. That is a nice escape.
Where can readers find your work?
My novel, The Dance of Light and Shadow, and my book of short stories, The Dream, can be found on Amazon.com. Most of my short stories and blog posts can be read on my website: davidwstoner.net.