Hi everyone! Are you ready to learn a bit more about Mr David (Dave) Maine? You are? That’s great! Sit back in a nice chair with your favourite drink, get comfy and let’s see what Dave said in our recent interview. Awaaaaay we go!!
So, Dave, I’m very interested to find out why you chose to switch genres for your new book The Gamble of the Godless.
Well, to everyone else it’s a switch, because my first four published novels were mainstream literary fiction. But to me it’s more of a homecoming. I grew up reading fantasy and SF—my older sister got me into it and I’ve been at it ever since. In high school I devoured books like Lin Carter’s Callisto series, and Paul O. Williams’s Pelbar cycle. After college I was reading Melanie Rawn and Katherine Kurtz, and of course had already gone through Tolkein and Terry Brooks and Stephen R. Donaldson. I’ve always had this weird schism in my writing, with the “literary” stuff and the “popular” stuff at odds with each other; it just happened that my literary stuff got published first. But as far back as 2005 I was showing my fantasy novels to my agent, and he was getting excited about them, he was saying, “We have find a way to publish these.”
In other words, I’ve been writing fantasy for years, just as I continue to write literary novels even now. Next year my fifth literary book, An Age of Madness, will be published by Red Hen Press in California. And sometime before that, in all probability, I’ll be releasing the sequel to The Gamble of the Godless.
So you enjoy writing fantasy? Will you continue to do so in the future?
Yes! And yes!
Fantasy, as I said, was my first love, along with science fiction of the “space opera” variety. Writing The Gamble of the Godless was an exercise in pure fun. I got to create a wildly varied cast of characters, most of whom are not human, and send them out into this alternative world populated with creatures and species whose approach to life is, to say the least, unfamiliar—both to my hero and to my readers. Then I got to throw in magic, and then, of course, a deadly threat to the entire known universe! Oh and there’s a pantheon of gods too. How could I not love all this?
As for continuing in the future: The Gamble of the Godless is just Book I of The Chronicles of Avin. There are two further volumes already finished, and number four is half-written in my head. So there’s plenty more in the pipeline.
Do you have a total number in mind for the series? Four, seven, ten?
Yeah—but it’s a secret.
Harrumph. How about a title at least?
The Rime of the Remorseless.
Catchy! I don’t suppose you can give us any hints about it?
Nope! But let me say this, because it’s important: every book in the series will be a self-contained story. I’m not doing this Game of Thrones thing, where you read a thousand pages just to be left with a cliffhanger that you have to wait six years to resolve. You’ll be able to pick up any book in the series, read it, enjoy it, feel satisfied with it and move on. Obviously it will add to your experience if you start at the beginning and get to know the characters and so on. But in terms of plot, in terms of knowing what the heck is going on, I have no desire to string readers along for years.
I don’t mean to pick on George RR Martin, he’s awesome. But people forget, even The Lord of the Rings took decades to complete—The Hobbit came out in the ’30s sometime, and maybe the first book of the trilogy. Then there was the war, you know? I think he finally finished the thing in the ’50s. Don’t quote me, but it was something like that.
And now, let’s go back to where and when it all began. How did you begin your career in the world of writing?
I was the sort of kid who, if he read a story, he would want to write one, and if he saw a movie, he’d want to make one, and if he heard a song he liked, he’d want to hum his own. I read a lot of comics and tried to draw them. In junior high I got a secondhand movie camera. So I was one of those so-called creative kids. I say so-called because I think kids are naturally creative… I had a short attention span and jumped from idea to idea, but sooner or later I always went back to what I’d been doing before. I’m still kind of that way, actually.
As for when it started—in the third grade I had a teacher named Mrs Christensen who did the most remarkable thing ever: she assigned every one of her students to write for 20 minutes every night, at home. We each had little blue books and had to write until the time was up. Sometimes she assigned a topic, sometimes not. After 20 minutes we were to stop, and if we were in the middle of the sentence we were to just leave a dash, like — And then the next day she’d read through them and leave comments and hand them back. I loved it. Other kids didn’t. You want to know something? I’m pretty sure she’s the reason I’m a writer.
After that there was no stopping me. For a long time I was obsessed with Star Trek, so I wrote a Star Trek parody called Scar Trek, featuring Captain Jerk and Mister Schlock. And other stuff too, like post-apocalypse stories in high school. It was the late ’70s so people were thinking about that kind of thing. I loved Harlan Ellison’s “A Boy and His Dog” and Roger Zelazny’s Damnation Alley.
Describe your perfect place to write.
It’ll be a snug room with a lot of bookshelves and a big desk. Also a rocking chair, which is where I’ll be sitting, next to a window that will look out on some greenery, trees and shrubs, a scrap of lawn. Nothing too industrial or jarring—a rural setting. There will be birds flitting around, and enough sky that I can see storm clouds rolling in above the treeline. The room will be done in teal and dark blue, the furniture will be stained dark, and there will be stereo and a couple guitars.
Who and/or what has been most inspirational in your life on a writing level and also on a personal level?
My wife Uzma Aslam Khan is a tremendous inspiration both as a writer and as a person. She is the most principled person I know, and it shows in her work. She writes beautiful, artful, demanding, rewarding novels that will transport you.
In college I had a teacher for a semester named Mary Robison, a well-known writer, who influenced me hugely as far as looking at words and sentences and recognizing when they were good, when they did the things I wanted them to do and when they didn’t. A lot of writing teachers focus on character motivation and fuzzy stuff like that. Mary just talked about the sentences. “Here, where you say the aliens ‘sloshed through the door’—I like that, I like the word ‘sloshed’ there.” She helped me realize that everything starts with the word choice, and it’s pointless to talk about other stuff until you’ve focused on that.
Growing up, my parents and sisters and brother all gave me lots of encouragement, but the person who stands out is my Aunt Margaret, my godmother. She was a crusty Irish former teacher who never gushed about anything, but in her reserved way she let me know that she thought I was something special.
A little more of the personal stuff – given you live on a beautiful island do you ever want to leave and actually go on holiday somewhere else?
Well, sure. Wherever you are, you know, there are good points and bad points. Hawaii is beautiful but it’s rather isolated. Sometimes I just want to spend some time tromping around a city with a little more verve, or I should say with a verve that’s unfamiliar to me. Sometimes I like to experience different types of wilderness too, like deserts or pine forests.
Where is your favourite holiday destination?
That’s a tough one. Generally speaking, it’s wherever I find myself at the moment. Bangkok has astonishing food, Kathmandu has jaw-dropping temples, and northern Pakistan is the most ruggedly beautiful wilderness I’ve ever seen. I’m also partial to deserts—the Sahara in southern Morocco, the Sonora in Arizona, the Thar in eastern Pakistan. But if I had to pick just one place to go for a week, it might be Istanbul. It’s such an astonishing city, with layer upon layer of history, of east-meets-west, of architecture, art, food…
As a youngster and now as an adult have you and do you have pets? If yes, what kind were/are they and do you have a favourite? Tell us, what is the happiest memory you have of said favourite pet?
Growing up our family had a somewhat neurotic coonhound named Rocky. He was the runt of the litter and a little jittery. As an adult, though, I grew to love cats with a passion. An Abbysinian-tiger mix named Abbie allowed me to take care of her for many years. She was a sweetie, though also a little neurotic maybe. But hey, she was a cat. I loved her very much. She was extraordinarily loud, which I guess Abbysinians are famous for.
Probably my fondest memory was looking through the window of my house one day in 1991 and seeing her playing with a woman who was going to be staying with me as a house guest. I was in grad school and had agreed to put up this person, a new student, for a few days while she looked for a place to live. Two years later we got married. I’ve always thought that Abbie, who was not a particularly outgoing cat, gave me the go-ahead by welcoming my Uzma into our lives.
Now, a little opinion piece if I may. E-books have broken out of the starting block and seem to be gathering speed.
What are your thoughts on e-books and how their emergence has changed the way we read? Do you like this technological development and step into the future?
To take your second question first: whether I like it is irrelevant. Other people like it enough to buy it, so it’s a done deal. Personally, I have some reservations about books that you need to constantly upgrade, books that you’ll need new software to read every 18 months. With paper books, you can set one aside for fifty years, pick it up again and read it. Try doing that with a Kindle! But then, I feel the same reservation about computers, and I seem to have been outvoted.
As for how they’ve changed our reading habits, I don’t know, because I don’t have an e-reader. I do however have students with them, and they all claim that they read more than they used to. They say it’s easier to access books, to buy books, to take the Kindle or Nook around with them instead of a bulky hardcover, so they can just read a few pages while waiting for the bus or whatever. Is this true? It’s tough to say, but who am I to say that they’re lying? And let me tell you, it’s difficult to get angry about any innovation that actually results in people reading more.
And, last but not least, why did you decide to publish “The Gamble of the Godless” as an e-book?
To be honest, it’s a bit of an experiment. If eBooks are the wave of the future, then it’s self-defeating to be a Luddite and deny their existence. There are inarguable advantages for everybody: they’re cheaper to produce than conventional books, they don’t consume paper or trees, they can be sold at a lower cost to consumers with an equal profit to writers, and so forth. Sure, I could shop around and try to convince a publisher to take Gamble of the Godless, and then watch as they sold it to readers for ten or twelve bucks. Why bother? This way I can sell it for 2.99, make a liveable royalty, save a few trees, save readers a bunch of money and—I hope!—bring them back for Book II. Seems like a win-win for everybody, no?
Thank you, Dave, for giving us an insight to your life – thanks for taking part in this interview.
So, readers, did you learn something new about Dave today? I most certainly learnt a lot. How gorgeous was the story about the cat? And Dave is right isn’t he, as long are more people are reading it doesn’t really matter which format it’s in. A teacher who makes homework each night 20 minutes of writing sounds like a good one to me. And that perfect writing place sounds perfect! I could go on with my observations but let me just say this was a great interview! Thanks again, Dave! I look forward to reading The Gamble of the Godless.
Want to hear more about Dave, stay tuned, an author profile will be coming your way soon. In the meantime visit him at: http://davidmaine.blogspot.com/