Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Author Insides - David Landrum

David Landrum's poem, "Passion," is featured in the current issue of The Battered Suitcase.

David teaches Literature at Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Michigan. His poetry has appeared widely and he edits the online poetry journal, Lucid Rhythms, at http://www.lucidrhythms.com/.

David, when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I began writing when I about nine or ten. I wrote a satiric “Letter to my Barber,” in fifth grade, which my teacher thought was funny and read to the whole class. I always wrote after that.

Why do you write?

I write because I love to live in the world of my imagination and to express my ideas not through essays but through fiction and poetry.

Is being a writer/poet anything like you imagined it would be?

It’s a lot of work—I guess I didn’t think it would require so much work and such big segments of time, writing and proofing and rewriting. But the joy of creating works of fiction and poetry rewards me as much as I imagined it would.

What do you think makes a good story?

A good story creates a world that can relate to the world in which we live. It touches on issues people find themselves in without being preachy or prescriptive about ethical or moral choices.

What's your favorite genre to read?

Poetry—I love reading poetry. Second would be good fiction.

Who is your favorite author or poet?

James Joyce. He set the style for how modern fiction is written. I never get tired of Dubliners. It is my all-time favorite book and a model for good fiction.

What books or stories have most influenced you the most as a writer?

Besides Dubliners, Hemingway’s short stories and novels. “Cat in the Rain” had a big influence on how I write. “Fat” by Raymond Carver is my favorite all-time story, followed by W. Somerset Maugham’s “Mr. Know-All,” and Ann Beatie’s “Janus.” I have these stories in my mind as models for good writing and for how I hope to write.

What books or stories have most influenced you as a person?

Among the Believers by V. S. Naipaul helped me think my way out of toxic religion. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn showed me the unbreakable nature of human dignity. The French Lieutenant’s Woman by John Fowles demonstrated how fiction could convey intellectual and philosophical constructs, which are very important to me.

Where/how do you find the most inspiration?

Always in reading. My ideas and my inspiration for stories come from reading the works of other writers.

What does your family think of your writing?

They don’t pay much attention to it, to be honest. I am the only one in my family interested in literature. If I ask a relative to read one of my stories, they will, but otherwise they don’t show any interest in my writing at all.

What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I like to write in the mornings (I’m a morning person) and edit at night. That kind of rhythm is good for me creatively.

Do you have any writing quirks or rituals?

Not really. Writing is business to a certain extent, just like killing is business for a hit man. I look at it as a job—a creative job, yes, and an adventure, but still a day’s work.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

It is hard for me not to sound preachy or corny. My stories usually deal with some sort of personal issue, ethical question, or question of right and wrong. It’s hard to not come across as a preacher, even though my stories do not follow the lines of religious or traditional morality. So it’s challenging to try to convey an idea of right and wrong without overdoing it a bit. Also, my stories are traditional and have, as Aristotle prescribed, a beginning, middle, and an end. So much of fiction now is what I call “verbal constructs,” not stories. They are not traditional in how they are constructed, and editors seem to like this sort of story, so I have trouble sometimes marketing my stuff for this reason.

What are your current projects?

I am finishing up (proofreading, actually) a fantasy novella called ShadowCity and starting to market it. I have a novel I am marketing, but in this economy it is tough, tough going. I always write poetry and fiction so I always have a couple of short fiction pieces and poetry projects on the burner.

What are you planning for future projects?

I have several ideas and rough drafts for an on-going character series of novels. I will probably explore that as time goes on.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Read. Stephen King said, “If you do not have the time to read, you do not have the time, or the

tools to write. It’s as simple as that.” Reading teaches you how to write, what good writing sounds like, and teaches you words and structure. I would say, like Mr. King, reading is vital for any writer. It also “primes the pump,” if you will—it causes creative ideas to start to flow, as water poured down a dry pump will, through osmosis, start the water in the bottom of well rising upwards.

Where can we find your work?

My novelette, The Gallery, is available from Amazon. My short stories and poetry are all over the internet.

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