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Posts Tagged ‘David Anthony Durham’

 

Homemade rye bread served with both regular and goat butter

Homemade rye bread served with both regular and goat butter

seared scallop, celeriac, beech mushrooms

seared scallop, celeriac, beech mushrooms

foie gras torchon, elixir vinegar, fennel salad

foie gras torchon, elixir vinegar, fennel salad

foie gras mousse, crabapple, laurel, brioche

foie gras mousse, crabapple, laurel, brioche

black truffle risotto

black truffle risotto

black truffle carbonara

black truffle carbonara

Wild BC salmong, chanterelles, flagolets, carrots

Wild BC salmon, chanterelles, flagolets, carrots

Polderside chicken breast, foie gras consomme poached, celeriac, celery branch

Polderside chicken breast, foie gras consomme poached, celeriac, celery branch

 

stuffed lamb neck with cucmber and yoghurt

stuffed lamb neck with cucmber and yoghurt

Beef cap, corned tongue, and brussel sprouts

Beef cap, corned tongue, and brussel sprouts

Chocolate dome, pain perdu, maple syrup

Chocolate dome, pain perdu, maple syrup

Well, as predicted, my birthday dinner at Fuel was pretty incredible. Apparently, Chef Belcham and his crew were working on the special event meal preparation all day and, in the end, all of their hard work paid off. Well, at least it did for Fondy and I who enjoyed a fantastic nine-course dinner.

Now, whenever I do a write-up, I don’t usually mention the bread and butter service, but I have to make an exception here. We weren’t served just any bread and butter to kick things off. We were presented with in-house homemade rye bread, served oven warm, with regular butter AND goat butter. Goat butter! Fondy and I were a little leery – until we tried it. We were mightily impressed. It was remarkably light and notably sweeter than its traditional counterpart. A pleasant surprise.

We started with the soups, a pine mushroom broth with albacore tuna tartare for Fondy and a lentil soup with smoked chicken and bacon for myself. As someone who has often viewed lentils as a necessary evil, I have to admit they worked very well pureed to a velvety texture and married to sweet smokiness of the chicken and bacon. It was very good, but Fondy’s soup was the winner: clear, clean, and fairly bursting with the earthy flavor of matsutake.

Next came the salads – red kuri squash with pine nuts, wild greens, birch syrup, and cider vinegar for her and a matsutake salad with romaine and egg yolk emulsion for me. Both excellent.

The third course was seafood. Fondy enjoyed an ultra rare albacore served with pickled vegetables, coriander, and charred walla wallas that captured the texture and aroma of the many Vietnamese sandwiches we’ve enjoyed since moving to Vancouver. I had a plump, beautifully seared scallop.

We followed up with a foie gras course: a torchon for Fondy and a mousse for myself Both were terrific but I have to give the nod to Fondy’s mouth-meltingly good torchon.

Next up were the truffled dishes. I enjoyed an incredible black truffle risotto that I was prepared to crown dish of the night right then and there – until I sampled Fondy’s black truffle carbonara. The secret is out. Tom and Rob will be opening a second restaurant, Campganolo, in the coming months and if this dish was a sneek peak at the home made pasta they’ll be serving there, I guarantee it will prove immensely successful.

We were then presented with our sixth course: Scott Island ling cod with artichokes and breadcrumbs for the lady and a wild BC salmon served with chanterelles, flagolets, and carrots for the birthday boy. Fondy found her ling cod a little undercooked for her taste so I ended up pulling double duty and finishing both.

By this point, we were about ready for dessert. However, Chef Rob wasn’t. Our seventh course was a foie gras consomme-poached Polderside chicken breast with celeriac and celery branch. The chicken was incredibly tender, the foie gras consomme nothing short of unbelievable.

After alerting the kitchen staff to the fact that we were about to tap out, we were served our final savory course: a stuffed lamb neck with cucumber and yoghurt for me and beef cap served with corned tongue and brussel sprouts for Fondy. The lamb neck was all sorts of delicious while the beef cap was perhaps the most tender cut of beef I’ve ever had the pleasure of sampling. I say sampling because, even though she claimed she couldn’t eat another bite before the dish arrived, Fondy had absolutely no problem finishing it.

For dessert, two chocolate domes – Fondy’s, seemingly made to order, served with pain perdu and maple syrup while mine was served with pistachio ice cream and chocolate soil.

Thanks to Rob, Tom, and the rest of the gang at Fuel for a truly memorable birthday dinner.

And also thanks to Narelle who commemorated my special day with a blog post of her own titled “Joseph Mallozzi – This Is Your Blog’s Life” that traces this blog from its humble beginnings to its present high-flying success:

http://narellefromaus.blogspot.com/2008/10/joseph-mallozzi-this-is-your-blog-life.html

To those of you wondering what the hell Cookie Monster is doing responding to my spam emails, go here for a brief explanation, and many more missives from the likes of Cookie Monster, arch-villain Baron Destructo, and the opportunistic Aloysius P. Hazzencockle:

 

http://spambait.wordpress.com/category/introduction/

Finally, thanks to everyone who posted birthday wishes. I’ll be playing catch-up with the mailbag in the coming days. And working on the outline for the SGA movie (after a discussion with Paul today), continuing work on my super, secret project (now four whole pages and counting), booking my upcoming trips (L.A., Vegas, and Tokyo), coming up with a title for that horror pitch (still nothing), and getting started on the upcoming book of the month club selections: The Traveler (John Twelve Hawks), Acacia (David Anthony Durham), and Necroscope (Brian Lumley).

Speaking of which – hope you’ve all started reading!

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Sup, bitches?

Sup, bitches?

In the immortal words of A Christmas Story’s little Ralphie: “Ooooh, fuuuudge!” A wrench has been thrown into our planned trip to Asia for the second year in a row. Last year, we were going to hit Hong Kong and Tokyo but had to cancel because things were looking busy on the pet shop front for Fondy. This year, it was going to be Hong Kong and Shanghai. Same story. Fudge indeed. And while I suppose I could just hang around the house with the dogs and read, I’ve been doing a lot of that lately and it’s dawned on me that I haven’t really gone away on vacation in close to two years. And, no, visiting relatives in Montreal doesn’t count.

So, what to do? Well, I suppose I could…still go away! Yep, hop on a plane in late November and set off on a solo culinary odyssey to the Far East. But, of course, I won’t be alone. Not really because you’ll all be joining me via my daily blog updates. True, there may be instances where I’ll be doing a fair imitation of Steve Martin’s The Lonely Guy (Table for ONE!”), but I’m a fairly sociable guy and, thus, should have no problem making fast friends with every concierge, cab driver, and sidewalk takoyaki seller that happens to cross my path. Time to dust off my Fodor’s Tokyo.

Well, I was in the office yesterday to do an on-camera sit down with Special Features Producer Ivon Bartok for the season five Deleted Scenes DVD Extra. I introed three: the longer version of the sword fight sequence from Broken Ties, the uncut version of the McKay-Beckett scene from Whispers, and a deleted Woolsey-Shen scene from Remnants. In the case of the sword fight, I explained that cuts were made, not so much because we were running long, but because I felt the sequence was more dynamic in its paired-down version. In the case of the McKay-Beckett scene, I explained that the conversation was significantly trimmed down because the episode was running long. In general, when it comes time to edit and episode for time, the best case scenario would be to fine an entire scene to excise. This opportunity rarely presents itself because the reality is if you CAN remove an entire scene without missing it, then that scene didn’t belong in the script in the first place meaning you, as a writer, have somehow failed in your duty to create a nice, tight script. I then moved onto my intro for the Woolsey-Shen scene which I was able to entirely excise from Remnants. Ahem. We WERE nine and half minutes over.

To those of you wondering – I forwarded Executive Producer Brad Wright all your questions. All twenty-six pages full. I aim to invite Marty G. over to talk about Brain Storm once that episode airs. And, finally, if Rob Cooper is feeling chatty, maybe I can get him to swing by once Vegas airs. Other upcoming guests, questions have gone out to costume designer Val Halverson, composer Joel Goldsmith, and stunt coordinator James Bamford.

And now, I’d like to start gathering questions for SGA’s Master of Mayhem, the Excelsior of Explosions, none other than our Special Effects Supervisor Wray Douglas. Wray has been with the show since the early SG-1 days. He and his team have been responsible for everything from squib hits and car stunts to menacing fog and the fiery blast that took out the beloved doctor Beckett. So if you have questions for Wray, start posting.

Speaking of upcoming guests, a perusal of the right sidebar should serve to remind everyone of the special guest authors who will be dropping by in the coming weeks. The week of October 27th, we’ll be joined by John Twelve Hawks as we’ll be discussing his novel, The Traveler. A brief call back from a September entry:

“Okay, this one is interesting for two big reasons. One is the book itself. The second is the mysterious author (Twelve Hawks isn’t his real name) who, apparently, lives “off the grid” and has never even met his American publisher. My initial reaction was to dismiss this as a slick PR stunt but, in looking over the author’s official website, I have to admit that Twelve Hawks, whoever he is, offers up some smart, oft-times scary food for thought.

From Publisher’s Weekly: “Twelve Hawks’s much anticipated novel is powerful, mainstream fiction built on a foundation of cutting-edge technology laced with fantasy and the chilling specter of an all-too-possible social and political reality. The time is roughly the present, and the U.S. is part of the Vast Machine, a society overseen by the Tabula, a secret organization bent on establishing a perfectly controlled populace. Allied against the Tabula are the Travelers and their sword-carrying protectors, the Harlequins. The Travelers, now almost extinct, can project their spirit into other worlds where they receive wisdom to bring back to earth—wisdom that threatens the Tabula’s power. Maya, a reluctant Harlequin, finds herself compelled to protect two naïve Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Michael dabbles in shady real estate deals, while Gabriel prefers to live “off the Grid,” eschewing any documentation—credit cards, bank accounts—that the Vast Machine could use to track him. Because the Tabula has engineered a way to use the Travelers for its own purposes, Maya must not only keep the brothers alive, but out of the hands of these evil puppet-masters.”

The following week, we’ll be joined by an author who is reputed to be one of the friendliest on the con circuit – David Anthony Durham. He’ll be stopping by to field your questions and comment son his fantasy novel, Acacia:

“From Publisher’s Weekly: “In this sprawling and vividly imagined fantasy, historical novelist Durham (Pride of Carthage) chronicles the downfall and reinvention of the Akaran Dynasty, whose empire, called Acacia, was built on conquest, slaving and drug trade. The Acacian empire, encompassing “The Known World,” is hated by its subjugated peoples, especially the Mein, who 22 generations earlier were exiled to the icy northland. Having sent an assassin to kill the Acacian king, Leodan, the rebel chieftain, Hanish Mein, declares war on the empire. As Acacia falls, Leodan’s treasonous but conflicted chancellor, Thaddeus Clegg, spirits the king’s four children to safety. When the Mein’s rule proves even more tyrannical than the old, the former chancellor seeks to reunite the now adult Akaran heirs—the oldest son Aliver (once heir to the throne), the beautiful elder daughter Corinn, their younger sister, Mena, and youngest brother, Dariel—to lead a war to regain the empire. Durham has created a richly detailed alternate reality leavened with a dollop of magic and populated by complicated personalities grappling with issues of freedom and oppression.”

And finally, one of the most well-respected writers in the horror genre stops by as we discuss his groundbreaking novel Necroscope. Brian Lumley will be here to answer your questions the week of November 10th:

“ From the publisher: “Harry Keogh is the man who can talk to the dead, the man for whom every grave willingly gives up its secrets, the one man who knows how to travel effortlessly through time and space to destroy the vampires that threaten all humanity.

In Necroscope, Harry is startled to discover that he is not the only person with unusual mental powers–Britain and the Soviet Union both maintain super-secret, psychically-powered espionage organizations. But Harry is the only person who knows about Thibor Ferenczy, a vampire long buriedin the mountains of Romania–still horribly alive, in undeath–and Thibor’s insane “offspring,” Boris Dragosani, who rips information from the souls of the dead in a terrible, ever-lasting form of torture…”

Incidentally, in a recent review, SFSignal’s John DeNardo wrote of Necroscope: “I can’t remember the last time I wanted to return to a book as much as this one.” You can check out the 5-star review here: http://www.sfsignal.com/archives/007256.html

My thoughts on your thoughts on The Lost Tribe:

Yes, Todd set the Daedalus on a collision course that would have wiped out everyone on board but, really, what choice did he have? First, the device was a huge threat to his kind and he was in a position to put an end to that thread. Second, he assumed he’d been double-crossed by Atlantis, that they were responsible for initiating the Attero device, so, in his mind, they deserved to be “inconvenienced”. Third, as I believe Das pointed out – if Ronon hadn’t taken out the weapons systems, he wouldn’t have had to go to his last resort: crashing the Daedalus. Still, yes, he almost did wipe out the ship and everyone on board but, at the end of the day, he had little choice. But I’m sure that whiny, narrow-minded Sheppard will take it as a personal affront.

How was Keller “mean” to Ronon at episode’s end? She was in an awkward position and felt it only right that Ronon know she was interested in someone else.

The reveal on the alien was a cool twist compliments of Rob Cooper who came up with the idea when we were first spinning the story. He also came up with the explosive side effect of the attero device.

Today’s video: Behind every good Asgard are at least two great puppeteers.

 

 

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Not long after posting yesterday’s blog entry announcing next month’s Book of the Month Club selections, I was contacted by writer John Twelve Hawks via a third party. I have to admit that, given the mystery, speculation, and wild internet rumors surrounding the author (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Twelve_Hawks), I was surprised to hear from him. And even more surprised to have him accept my invitation to join us for a Q&A on The Traveler when discussion on the book begins the week of October 27th. Well, his identity may be shrouded in secrecy but, judging from his website and the message he sent me, one thing is clear: JXIIH is an extremely well-informed, intellectually provocative man/woman/automated response unit. He offered up the following link, www.Kiasworld.co.uk as an example of a website inspired by some of the ideas expressed in The Traveler. Along similar lines, you can check out JXIIH’s official website over at: http://www.randomhouse.com/features/johntwelvehawks/. Interesting, no? Pick up The Traveler and prepare for what should be a very interesting discussion.

I also heard back from author David Anthony Durham who kindly agreed to make time for us when his book, Acacia, comes up for discussion the week of Novemer 3rd. The fact that he built his reputation on the strength of his historical novels makes Acacia, his foray into epic fantasy, particularly intriguing. And, just as a side note, the feedback I’ve heard from people who have met and talked with him at his various convention appearances indicate he’s an extremely affable guy. You can check out David’s blog here: http://www.davidanthonydurham.com/blog/

Finally, one of the most celebrated and prolific authors of the horror genre, Brian Lumley, will also be stopping by to field reader questions and queries when his book, Necroscope, comes up for discussion the week of November 10th. For an overview of the author, his work, and updated news, head on over to: http://www.brianlumley.com/. And be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions for some interesting reading.

For those of you who may have missed it, the world did not end today as some had feared. To the disappointment of more than a few, our planet was not swallowed up by a black hole when CERN flipped the switch on its Large Hadron Collider. Or, I assume it didn’t because, as my friend Lawren pointed out, we could well have been sucked up and transported to an alternate but near identical universe and we’d be none the wiser. To be honest, I was reminded it was happening today and I momentarily feared the worst when it appeared as though physical objects had begun to pop out of existence – but it turned out I’d simply forgotten my camera and laptop in the trunk of my car. Intrigued by the doomsayers who predicted the galactic apocalypse (not so much their theories but their post-much-ado-about-nothing takes on the big non-event), I did a little research and was disappointed to discover that some have not so much changed their tune as, oh, slightly altered it. Apparently, according to them, the end of days will not be immediate. Some “experts” claim it may take up to four years for Earth to experience the planet-killing repercussions of this most heinous of scientific experiments. Four years! That should put the apocalypse sometime in 2012…which just so happens to be the end of the Ancient Mayan calendar! Coincidence? Maybe. Until you factor in Nostradamus!

Nostradamus was a 16th century astronomer/astrologer whose astonishingly accurate prophecies have astounded septics and skeptics alike. Among his famous fulfilled prophecies:

The blood of the just will be demanded of London,
Burnt by the fire in the year 66

 – Predicted the fire of London on September 2, 1666.

Before the war comes,
the great wall will fall,
The King will be executed, his death coming too soon will be lamented.
(The guards) will swim in blood,
Near the River Seine the soil will be bloodied.

- Predicted the storming of the Bastille and the French Revolution.

The year 1999 seven month,
From the sky will come a great King of terror:
To bring back to life the great King of Angolmois, (the Mongols),
Before after Mars to reign by good luck

- Predicted the 1999 MTV premiere of the Tom Green Show that launched the career of the execrable comedian.

The Eastern kings shall carry out the Divine Justice.
Turkey shall be devastated.

- Predicted the Boston Red Sox capturing the 2007 NL East pennant and then devastating perennial MLB turkeys The Cleveland Indians enroute to winning the World Series.

And here’s what Nostradamus had to say about what sounds suspiciously like the Hadron Collider:

Every night in my dreams
I see you, I feel you,
That is how I know you go on

Far across the distance
And spaces between us
You have come to show you go on

Near, far, wherever you are
I believe that the heart does go on
Once more you open the door
And you’re here in my heart
And my heart will go on and on

 

Scary, no?

Today’s pic: Hey, check out the uplifting signage a secret admirer left for us last week.

Today’s video: Let’s continue our tour of the FX Stage with our host, Carl Binder. 

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Today, we are joined by author Stephen Dobyns who has kindly taken the time to answer some of your reader questions about his novel The Church of Dead Girls. To those of you who didn’t take part in last month’s book of the month club discussion – I strongly urge you to pick up the book and read it before checking out the Q&A. Trust me, it’s a very quick read. Once you start, you’ll be hardpressed to set the book aside and could well finish it in one sitting (maybe two if, on your first night of reading, your wife yells at you to turn off the freakin’ light because it’s almost 3:00 a.m.).

With this month’s discussions fast-approaching, I’ve decided to pull the trigger on next month’s BOTMC selections…

In the SF category, it’ll be The Traveler, by John Twelve Hawks. Okay, this one is interesting for two big reasons. One is the book itself. The second is the mysterious author (Twelve Hawks isn’t his real name) who, apparently, lives “off the grid” and has never even met his American publisher. My initial reaction was to dismiss this as a slick PR stunt but, in looking over the author’s official website, I have to admit that Twelve Hawks, whoever he is, offers up some smart, oft-times scary food for thought. Would the enigmatic Mr. Twelve Hawks be willing to come out of hiding to field some reader questions on his work? Doubtful buy, hey, it wouldn’t hurt to ask.

From Publisher’s Weekly: “Twelve Hawks’s much anticipated novel is powerful, mainstream fiction built on a foundation of cutting-edge technology laced with fantasy and the chilling specter of an all-too-possible social and political reality. The time is roughly the present, and the U.S. is part of the Vast Machine, a society overseen by the Tabula, a secret organization bent on establishing a perfectly controlled populace. Allied against the Tabula are the Travelers and their sword-carrying protectors, the Harlequins. The Travelers, now almost extinct, can project their spirit into other worlds where they receive wisdom to bring back to earth—wisdom that threatens the Tabula’s power. Maya, a reluctant Harlequin, finds herself compelled to protect two naïve Travelers, Michael and Gabriel Corrigan. Michael dabbles in shady real estate deals, while Gabriel prefers to live “off the Grid,” eschewing any documentation—credit cards, bank accounts—that the Vast Machine could use to track him. Because the Tabula has engineered a way to use the Travelers for its own purposes, Maya must not only keep the brothers alive, but out of the hands of these evil puppet-masters.”

Discussion on The Traveler will begin the week of Monday, October 27th.

In the fantasy category, it’ll be Acacia, by David Anthony Durham. This is one I’ve been dying to get around to for quite some time but I held off on because I wanted to make it a BOTMC selection. Well, it’s finally been released as a mass market paperback, so no one has an excuse not to pick it up. Author David Anthony Durham is a celebrated historical novelist, multiple award winner, with three novels in development as big screen adaptations (including, yes, Acacia).

From Publisher’s Weekly: “In this sprawling and vividly imagined fantasy, historical novelist Durham (Pride of Carthage) chronicles the downfall and reinvention of the Akaran Dynasty, whose empire, called Acacia, was built on conquest, slaving and drug trade. The Acacian empire, encompassing “The Known World,” is hated by its subjugated peoples, especially the Mein, who 22 generations earlier were exiled to the icy northland. Having sent an assassin to kill the Acacian king, Leodan, the rebel chieftain, Hanish Mein, declares war on the empire. As Acacia falls, Leodan’s treasonous but conflicted chancellor, Thaddeus Clegg, spirits the king’s four children to safety. When the Mein’s rule proves even more tyrannical than the old, the former chancellor seeks to reunite the now adult Akaran heirs—the oldest son Aliver (once heir to the throne), the beautiful elder daughter Corinn, their younger sister, Mena, and youngest brother, Dariel—to lead a war to regain the empire. Durham has created a richly detailed alternate reality leavened with a dollop of magic and populated by complicated personalities grappling with issues of freedom and oppression.”

Discussion on Acacia will begin the week of Monday, November 3rd.

And, finally, in the horror category, it’ll be Necroscope by Brian Lumley. This one is a classic, the first in an immensely popular series by famed horror master Brian Lumley.

From the publisher: “Harry Keogh is the man who can talk to the dead, the man for whom every grave willingly gives up its secrets, the one man who knows how to travel effortlessly through time and space to destroy the vampires that threaten all humanity.

In Necroscope, Harry is startled to discover that he is not the only person with unusual mental powers–Britain and the Soviet Union both maintain super-secret, psychically-powered espionage organizations. But Harry is the only person who knows about Thibor Ferenczy, a vampire long buriedin the mountains of Romania–still horribly alive, in undeath–and Thibor’s insane “offspring,” Boris Dragosani, who rips information from the souls of the dead in a terrible, ever-lasting form of torture…”

Discussion on Necroscope will begin the week of Monday, November 10th.

Congratulations to Antisocialbutterflie and Cat4444, the random winners of last month’s BOTMC discussions.  You’ve won a year’s subscription to Fantasy & Science Fiction.  I’ll be pestering you in the coming days for your mailing information.

I’d like to thank everyone who submitted questions for director Will Waring. He is furiously working away on them as we speak. Atlantis Production Designer James Robbins, meanwhile, has his hands full with an upcoming series, but I’m sure he can make time for a few questions. So, if you have questions for James, start posting them.

And, finally, scroll down to the bottom of this entry for the first part of our tour of the FX Stage.

Over to author Stephen Dobyns…

Antisocialbutterflie writes: “1) How did you come to the decision to keep the audience disconnected from the narrator for most of the story? Why did you decide to change that in part 3?

2) Was there some historical event in particular that provided inspiration for the stepwise breakdown of the community?

3) How did you come to the decision to make the narrator gay? Was it to make him a target of “the Friends” or was there another reason.

Thanks so much for giving us a wonderful book and answering our questions.”

Dobyns: The narrator remains “disconnected”, as you say, partly for reasons of suspense and partly because he sees himself as an outsider because he is gay. In a larger town or city being gay is usually accepted, but in small towns it can create problems. When I taught at Syracuse University in the 80’s and 90’s, a young woman, Sarah Ann Wood, disappeared from a town resembling Aurelius. The culprit was not identified for a number of years, if at all, and I imagined how, in a small town, such a horrible crime might cause the townspeople to begin to look at one another with increasing suspicion. In such cases, historically, attention becomes focused on people who seem somewhat different.

CTim writes: “I really enjoyed the novel but was left very confused at the end. Why, in your mind, did the guilt party commit these murders? Was he just crazy? And why so much time between the first murder and the later abductions of young girls?”

Dobyns: The murderer’s confused sexuality led him to be attracted to the first girl and to be appalled that he was attracted. Usually, a man who feels this way then blames the woman, or girl, for attracting him. It is easier to blame her than to blame himself. Seeing her as guilty of corrupting him, he then has to punish her in order to save her from herself; the saving part is in his church in the attic. Having killed once without getting caught, he does it again and again. He takes a hideous pleasure in the killing, which he sees as purification, yet he also has a wish to be stopped, to be caught. And in the end, after he has been shot, he punishes himself by cutting off the offending hand. There is that line in the Bible: “If thine eye offends thee, pluck it out.” That’s what I was thinking of.

Thornyrose writes: “For Mr. Dobyns. Which of your works would you recommend to someone not familiar with your works, as a first, second, and third choice? Which is more satisfying, teaching, writing poetry, or writing fictional prose? In Church of Dead Girls, we were presented with what I’d call a psychological horror thriller. Have you done any more “traditional” horror stories? What do you think of the genre in general? Finally, what aspect of getting a book published is the most rewarding, and the most frustrating? Thank you very much for your participation in this forum. While I was not a fan of “Church of Dead Girls”, I netherless appreciate the craftsmenship and imagination that went into writing it.”

Dobyns: I have a lot of different types of books. The poetry is most important to me, and the selected poems, Velocities, would be a good introduction. My best novels, I think, are The Two Deaths of Senora Puccini and The Wrestler’s Cruel Study. No, I have no “traditional” horror stories. M.R. James wrote “traditional” horror stories, but you probably mean someone more recent. Any genre novel is limited by its genre, meaning that it serves up melodramatic answers, or conclusions, for moral questions. I’ve written ten mystery novels in my Saratoga series, and although I take great pleasure in them, they are still limited by the genre. Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov are both mysteries, but their greatness is due in part to the fact that they transcend the mysteries to something more important. As for publishing, what is rewarding is the writing of the book. Then the publishing, if it happens, is all gravy.

GateTech writes: “What challenges did you face in making use of the first-person narrator? Did you sometimes find yourself hamstrung by the details in writing scenes in which the narrator doesn’t appear? What made you decide to tell the story this way? Was it to lend it an air of familiarity for the small town setting?”

Dobyns: A major difficulty of a first person narrator is that the action must happen in front of him or her. My character cheats a little by imagining scenes that others have told him about. However, a number of great writers have violated first person narrator taboos. My story was influenced, in a small way, by Dostoevsky’s The Devils, in which the first person narrator constantly describes stuff that he could never have known. But despite this, the novel is still credible. I wrote it in first person because I wanted the narrator to be a participant and to feel the pressure—real or imagined—of being watched.

Kellyk writes: “Question for Mr. Dobyns. I loved the small town setting of your novel. I was wondering if you drew on any childhood memories or experiences growing up to help paint a very realistic portrait of the people and places. And were you influenced by any other writers?”

Dobyns: As I say, I was influenced in part by Dostoevsky’s The Devils. Also I was familiar with towns like this when I taught at Syracuse University. In addition, my mother was from a very small town 40 miles north of Utica, NY, and growing up I often went there to visit my grandparents, aunts and cousins. In writing about Aurelius, I kept thinking of those small New York State towns.

A Honshuu writes: “This was a wicked good read. Actually took me a couple of days because I didn’t want to miss anything. Now that I’ve had a taste, I’m now hungry for more & will be hitting the local library for all they have. Thank you!”

Dobyns: Thanks for reading and enjoying the book. A writer can’t ask for anything more.

 

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