Author Douglas Esper Interview
What inspires you to write?
A combination of social anxiety and escapism, coupled with an endless curiosity fuels most of my stories. For my short, My Wife’s Favorite, which appeared in the anthology “A Matter of Words” by ScoutMedia (Scoutmediabooksmusic.com), I explored what rich people would buy that regular folks can’t afford. The answer turned out to be celebrity tattoos removed and preserved for sale as fine art. For “A Life of Inches” (Limitless Publishing) I wanted to test the determination of an athlete whose best friend was faster, stronger, and had unending good fortune.
My social awkwardness typically allows/forces me into the corner at large events. This provides great people-watching opportunities. A lot of my stories come from overheard comments, which I then mix with current events, character descriptions, and what-if scenarios.
I also feel like everyone is connected in many ways we don’t ever perceive. I was at a theme park as a kid and I watched a boy drop a stuffed animal. A girl, around the same age, picked it up and handed it back to the boy. They shared that brief moment, that simple connection. I wondered if their paths crossed again, would some part of their subconscious mind register it? Could a random link like that bond strangers without them ever figuring it out? Those are the questions that keep me up at night working on stories.
Tell me about your protagonist. What are your favorite traits and/or weaknesses?
Preeya is a blue-collar, no nonsense woman. She knows what she knows and likes what she likes. Some people see her as stubborn, but she prefers to think she understands her role in the world and wants to focus on maintaining it. On the other hand, Preeya doesn’t want to be stereotyped or told how to act or who to be. She likes baseball. She likes working independently for herself, even if the money isn’t great. She likes the freedom of setting her own schedule and to have the ability to wake up and impulsively decide today is the perfect day for a hike.
Sometimes that impulsive nature can get her into a lot of trouble.
What are your current/future projects?
I have a nonfiction book, Reintroducing Chuck Mosley: Life On and Off the Road (ScoutMedia 2020), about my twenty-year friendship with singer/songwriter Chuck Mosley (Faith No More/Bad Brains/Cement/Indoria). He and I recorded, performed over 160 concerts in five countries, and tried like hell to keep him sober until his death in 2017.
Rhythm of the Bug-ity Beat is a short story, which will appear in the anthology A Bond of Words (Scoutmedia 2020). When a drug deal goes bad in the jungles of Costa Rica, a famous drummer must forge a strange alliance to survive.
I have started to work on a short story collection connected to a novel I published a few years ago. I also hope to finish editing an upper middle grade fantasy adventure book, so I can shop it before year’s end.
Do you have a routine you follow when writing?
In a perfect world, I sit down with a few free hours and a specific goal in mind. I have a playlist of post rock, trip-hop, ambient, soundtrack, and relaxing music playing to help me shut out the rest of reality. As I’m writing I have a drink (water, coffee, whisky etc.) and a snack to munch on, helping to avoid trips away from the screen.
How often does this happen? Almost never. Most days my writing gets accomplished a few minutes here or there in between work, errands, kids, yard work (though not as much of that as my wife would prefer), and the time I devote to a few music projects. Many of my first drafts are done via a combo of tablet, phone, computer, and illegible notes on whatever scraps of paper I have around.
If you could go back in time and give yourself advice, what would it be?
I have a lot of advice, for sure, but I also know how stubborn I am and how I need my routine. I’d probably ignore my future self and run straight into the same mistakes anyway.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Generally, I see the same advice over and over, and I agree with it. Keep writing. Be your loudest cheerleader. Learn the ropes of creating a story, but also be ready to figure out marketing, editing, website creation, social media, market trends, audience identification, the art of query letters, patience, and coping with the sting of rejection.
Write the story you want to write, but it doesn’t hurt to check #MSWL on Twitter to see what stories agents/editors want as well.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you?