Sunday, September 4, 2011

An Interview with John Darling

I had an opportunity to get to know John Darling a bit.  Read what he has to say, and I think you'll like him.

Do you write full time or part time, and how do you manage it?

I write part-time.  Most of the time I write in the early morning when the world is quiet and my mind is fresh from a brief night’s sleep (I rarely sleep more than 5 hours).

I understand we can thank tattoos for your latest book.  Tell us about it.

I had never written a mystery before, since romance was my strong suit, but one night I was sitting in a bar talking to a friend of mine who worked there when a lady sat down next to me.  Her clothing left very little to the imagination, so when she asked me if I wanted to see her “tats”, I almost said that I could already see them.  But before I could do that, I realized that she did not say the word I thought she said, so I said “Okay”, not knowing what to expect.  She then went into an explanation of each of her many tattoos, which got a chuckle from my friend since the lady was a regular flake in the bar.  After an hour, I thought, what if I was someone who hated tattoos?  What would I do?  And that is how the first Detective Anderson mystery, entitled Tat, came to be. Since then I have written 9 more stories which I assembled into a book.

Was it difficult to write in the mystery genre?

I found it quite easy even though I had never written one before Tat.  I was more amazed when the first magazine I sent it to wanted to buy it.  The editor said he loved every aspect of Tat.  It was the editor that gave me the idea to write more stories about Detective Anderson.  Since I decided to turn the stories into a book, I had to, reluctantly, withdraw my submission to the magazine.  Pulp Empire is a great place to send work if you write in this genre.

Tell us about your character Detective Anderson.  Is there any of you in him?  Someone else, maybe?

I am Anderson.  I guess I always have been since I have always been one who could figure out what happened or how to do things.  My strongest suit is solving problems and every crime is a problem until you find out whodunit.

You chose a collection of short stories rather than a novel.  Why?

I have never attempted a novel.  Short fiction is what I do best.  The third story in my book, Into the Dark Desolate Night, is called Images and at over 13,000 words, it is the longest story I have ever written.  My excuse is that I can’t keep a thought in my head long enough to write a novel.

Do you have anything new in the works and can you tell us a bit about it?

I have labeled my book, Into the Dark Desolate Night, as Volume 1 of The Detective Anderson Mysteries so look for more from him.  I am working on his next case now called The Talking Dead

What inspired you to be a writer?

I have always been a great story teller.  People have told me that they like to listen to me tell a tale because I often act out the characters I am talking about—real or imagined—so one thing just lead to another.

Tell us about the hardest challenge you had to overcome in writing?

I started writing before computers arrived on the scene and at the time I started, I was such a poor typist, that I almost gave up the craft.  Then along came word processing which saved me!

What advice would you give to writers just starting out?

Write what you feel, not just necessarily what you know.  Anything can be researched on the Internet nowadays.  Also, base your characters on real people that you know, it makes it easier to bring them to life.  In two of my stories that are back to back in my book, I base the older character on a late friend of mine (who died at the ripe old age of 102).  I even used his middle and last name for the character names.  In Tat, victim #7 is based on a female bartender that works in the place where this all started.  She wasn’t crazy about being dead in the story, but she was happy that I included her.

Who is your favorite author and why? What books have most influenced your life?

Kurt Vonnegut.  He is as weird as I am and I blame him for my screwed up personality, especially his seminal book, The Sirens of Titan, which taught me that we are all just puppets to a superior being—whomever you think that is.    John Grisham, is my favorite living author even though he won’t answer my emails. 

How did you deal with rejection letters?

I read them, then toss them, and move on.  They are just part of the game.  The bestselling novel and #1 movie in the country is The Help.  That was rejected countless times until someone saw the marketability of it.

What's the weirdest thing you've ever done in the name of research?

I learned Cockney.  In my book, Woman in Black, (which is another collection of short stories available on the title character travelled through time to deal with a pesky alien named Jack the Ripper.  So she would fit in with the criminal elements she would be dealing with, she had to learn Cockney, which means I had to learn it.   

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