Today I had the pleasure of interviewing DeWayne Twitchell, author of Asian Haze and Night’s Plutonian Shore and Other Stories.
About the author:
My name is DeWayne Twitchell. I live in southern Illinois and am the author of two books currently out: a mystery novel called ASIAN HAZE, and a science fiction and fantasy short story collection called NIGHT’S PLUTONIAN SHORE AND OTHER STORIES, both published by Lang Book Publishing, Ltd. I am currently in the early stages of a new novel. This new book will continue the series I began with ASIAN HAZE about the private eye Randall Arthur.
Tell us a little about yourself – your education, family, etc.
I work presently at a group home for mentally-challenged adults, but have been writing for several years now. Single (happily), and live in a very quiet small town in Illinois. Have one older brother and one younger sister, three nieces and three nephews.
What started you on your journey to become an author?
I’ve been a reading junkie since I was a kid, and it eventually got me to dreaming of wanting to write my own stories.
What is a usual writing day like for you?
When I’m working on a book, I usually try to write for four or five hours, at least.
Do you have a specific writing style? Are you a plotter or a panster when it comes to writing?
In the type of books I write, which are mysteries, I try to be a plotter, though I think character development is as important, to make the reader care about the story and what happens in it.
How much of your work is based on first-hand knowledge? Is anything you write based on real people/events and if so, how did they inspire you to create your work?
A lot of what I write about comes from my imagination, and I have to research the finer points of what I’m writing about to try and get it as accurate as I can. Sometimes I will write about a real place and transpose it to another location. As for the characters, I don’t have a specific character that is like a real person, but maybe bits and pieces of someone’s personality ends up in one of my characters.
Do you get writers’ block and if so, how do you overcome it?
Sometimes the words don’t come out as easily as I’d like, though I don’t really think of it as writer’s block. I’ve found that even if I persist in writing something, even if it’s not up to the standards I usually demand of myself, eventually that bad writing will lead to something better.
Who are your main influences in the writing world? Do you have favorite authors?
I could talk about my influences all day, there are so many. It started with Ray Bradbury, and then to other science fiction writers. Then I went to reading fantasy, horror, thrillers, mysteries, etc.
Are you trade or indie published? How has your experiences differed from your expectations prior to becoming a published author?
My two current books are published by a small publishing house out of New Zealand called Lang Book Publishing, Ltd. Because it is a small house, I have had to do a lot of self-promotion, and 99% of that has been on the Internet: Facebook, Twitter, etc. Social media has changed the way not only how authors promote their books, but how they write and publish them as well. Indie and trade publishing has exploded in the last few years because of social media, and the new avenues it has created to get new writers exposed to an audience. When I first began having dreams of being an author, the publishing world was a lot different, and I based my fantasies of success on that world. I’ve had to readjust those fantasies to fit the new world. An example would be an interview like this one. I’ve done three or four interviews since being published, and they all have been responding to questions online or via e-mail, instead of sitting down with someone in a room and talking to them.
Do you have any regrets as an author?
Probably that I didn’t start doing this earlier in my life.
What is the hardest part about being a writer?
Coming up with something that you feel is good enough for other people to want to read. It is not easy to get the words down exactly as you want them to properly tell the story you want to tell. Most of good writing is rewriting and editing, over and over until you can get it as good as you can.
How long on average does it take for you to complete a book, from the first time you sit down to write until it becomes a published book?
This first book, ASIAN HAZE, was an on-and-off project that took several years for me to finish, because of other things going on in my life. The new book hopefully will be finished in late 2016, though that is not written in stone. But I’m going to try. When I was writing ASIAN HAZE, I didn’t have an audience, small as it is, waiting on a next book. Now I have a few people who actually want to read a new DeWayne Twitchell novel, and it puts more pressure on you to get it done as quickly as you can, but still have it as good as it can be.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Read as much as you can, both the good and the bad stuff. Write as much as you can. And if you truly believe in your talent, be persistent and never give up on your dream.
This is the opening from the new novel in progress, tentatively titled, FAMILY DYNAMICS:
“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”
The Void was approaching.
That was what he called it now within the recesses of his stroke-damaged mind. Not death, not a transition into an afterlife so desired by the human psyche—as long as if it didn’t involve fire, brimstone, or any eternal agony in general. But the Void, with a capital V. Because he was now of the belief, after long and often psychologically painful soul-searching, that there was no heaven, no hell, no place where all the souls of the deceased—good or bad—would reside. No place that both Mother Teresa and Adolf Hitler would call their eternal spirit home. No conscious afterlife of any kind. Just a great nothingness, like the one before his conception.
Joseph Bowles was resigned to the impending end of everything he had accomplished, experienced, and felt. But what he was not resigned to, what he could not fathom, was how his eldest son, who stood at his bedside now in tears waiting for his father to die, could have betrayed him in the manner that he had done. After all the love and support he had given him.
He so wanted to say something to him now, but the stroke had stolen the ability of speech from him. He tried to transfer his hurt and hatred from his heart into his eyes. But he didn’t know if it registered. He was so weak. Let me die, oh please let me fucking die! Let me die so I won’t have to feel this goddamn heartache!
Roger Bowles and his wife Nancy were the only ones with him now. The doctor had seen Joseph an hour ago and told Roger and Nancy that there was nothing more that medical science could accomplish and that the end was near. A nurse had been in about ten minutes ago to check on the near-death patient, and had then left Roger and Nancy alone with Joseph. Their two teenage children had been there earlier to say their good-byes to their grandfather. It was too bad about Bryan, but he had made his choice long ago and had held to it.
He was a member of this family in name only. Roger had not invited his brother to be here at the hospital to say farewell to his estranged father and he had not expressed any wish to be there. Roger figured that Bryan would refuse the invitation, so why bother?
Joseph, in his time of dying, thought of the son he had lost. He was thinking of Bryan when the stroke struck him. Because Bryan was Joseph’s only hope to salvage what damage would be done by his brother. He had set events in motion, before the stroke. The stroke prevented him from finishing what he had to do in totality. But he hoped that what he had been able to do would be enough to get the ball rolling. And he hoped that Bryan still cared enough to do something, that his estrangement from his blood family was not so severe that if he learned the truth of what his brother had done, that he would let it pass. He felt he knew Bryan well enough to believe that he would not. That, despite everything that had happened to rend the family, Bryan’s sense of right was still ingrained within him. It was a shot in the dark, but it was all Joseph could take. And the pity was that he would not live long enough to know if he had hit the target, or even come close.
He could hear the cold beep of the heart monitor grow fainter, slower. He knew what was coming and was brave enough to accept it and whatever came after, even if it was nothing. And if he did reach a fiery hell, could it be worse than the suffering that Roger, who had seemingly always stood by him, had laid upon his heart that has already experienced enough heartache in his lifetime? And could a heaven truly make that suffering meaningless? For the first time, Joseph was glad that his beloved wife Tara was dead, so she would not have to bear her own heartbreak. But Roger and Nancy’s kids were still around, young and hopefully just in the early stages of long and happy lives. But if they discovered what their father had done, how would they deal with the pain? That thought further broke Joseph’s heart; that two innocent children should have to suffer for the sins of their family. And what of Bryan’s children, who were even younger? Maybe it was for the best if there was simply nothing after death.
The last thing Joseph Bowles saw was Roger and Nancy standing above him, both with tears in their eyes, arms around each other. The last physical sensation that Joseph felt were the tears leaking from his eyes.
Goddamn you, Roger.
The Void arrived.
Approximately ten minutes after Joseph Bowles drew his last mortal breath, his son Roger, after the requisite tears and hug with Nancy, got into the elevator and descended to the first floor of the hospital. He was no longer weeping, no longer had a need to weep, at least for the moment. He walked out with a quick step and stopped under the awning of the entrance. He took out his smart phone, scrolled through the phone number directory until he found the one he wanted and speed-dialed it. Roger just had to wait a few seconds before connecting.
“It’s me. The son of a bitch just died. Begin the operation,” Roger said. He disconnected without waiting for an answer from the other end. Sorry you’re going to miss all the fun, old man, he thought.
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