Tuesday, July 8, 2014

John Durden: Throwing Words in Glass Castles

I had the luxury and good fortune to meet several new favorite writers at this year's Alabama Phoenix Festival, and John Durden is one you should definitely keep an eye on. So, without any prevaricating about the bush (15 extra geek points if you can name the reference), let's have him say hello.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

My latest work Melatonin is the story of two protagonists who live in very different worlds, one living a very mundane and miserable life with one bad event after another, and the other living a magical and exciting life exploring a giant glass castle full of dark and mysterious secrets. Slowly and unexpectedly throughout the novel a demon shows up and starts meddling with their lives and making things take a turn for the worst, leaving them to make a decision that could change every aspect of their lives.

What are the themes and subjects you tend to revisit in your work?

The story tends to revolve around the evils that are present in the character's everyday lives that have now taken on a physical form. It deals with every day circumstances that could potentially be resolved if the character takes the right steps to change their actions, but focuses on what happens when they do not. At the same time, it looks at some of the more evidently evil qualities of the demon and gives the reader something to compare the more quieted evils to.

What would be your dream project?

I would love for one of my works or a series of works to become something of a reality on the big screen. I realize that in doing that the works may not be entirely represented as they are in the book(s), but it would be pretty awesome to see my characters portrayed by actors, or voice actors even. I'm not opposed to an animated series either. I would like to work directly with those involved with the project in order to ensure that at least capture the important qualities of each characters.

If you have any former project to do over to make it better, which one would it be, and what would you do?

Melatonin is my first public project and I am as of this writing working to improve the quality of my work. I pushed it out onto the market rather quickly which means I didn't take a lot of time to polish it in the ways I needed to. It helped that some of my writer friends were quick to comment and point out the flaws that they saw in the book and give me some helpful tips to make it shine and better tell the story the way I want it to be told. I'll be editing a lot of dialogue and making some parts of the book more clear and fleshed out than I have in the first draft. Even though I know there are quite a few flaws in the book, it's still encouraging to know that there are those out there who still enjoyed it for what it was in the beginning.

What inspires you to write?

The first time someone asked me this question, I thought it was a very odd question to ask. I had always thought the answer was universal. What inspires anyone to write? It's that little voice in the back of their head throwing out ideas and nagging at them to pen anything and everything that comes to mind. It wasn't until that voice died out for a while and later returned before I truly realized why I am inspired to write. It's because I love to read. For me, it's more than trying to make millions, though I am not opposed to that. It's about loving what I do. It's about entertaining myself first and then sharing it with the world. As my characters learn and grow I follow them on their journey to enlightenment, disappointment, and closure. It's all about the thrill.

What writers have influenced your style and technique?

My style and technique are all original. That is what I wish I could say, but then again I would have no inspiration if the authors that I read didn't influence me. Stephen King is a huge perpetrator when it comes to not having a line that I won't cross. He never cared and let his characters tell the story regardless of what he told you about. That's what makes his works interesting. The ideas for demons and fantasy come from Dan Wells whose serial killer trilogy kept me restless for days as I plowed through every chapter in one sitting. There are various other authors and their one shot thrillers that have made my thought process go through twists and turns throughout like Gary Braver's Ghost Writer where the story Geoffrey Dane is ghostwriting the ending for is a reflection of his own life. The ending is marvelous, but I won't ruin it for anyone that hasn't read it.

Where would you rank writing on the "Is it an art or it is a science continuum?" Why?

This question has plagued me for quite some time now. For me personally, I feel it is more of an art than a science. However, when I think about how I write, I can see the formula even though I don't plan a majority of it out. There are still definitive marks of beginning, middle climax, and end throughout all that I write. As for now I believe there has to be some science in it for it to make sense. The thought has to formulated enough as to give the reader something real to grasp. However, the actual content is an art with a sort of magic to it. This reminds me of the many discussions I have had with my best writer friend over the existence of magic. We cannot agree on magic existing in the real world as he so brilliantly deduces, but we can agree that in the spectrum of the fiction, it must be evident and is a definitive quality that a book must have in order to captivate an audience.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

Right now I am working on revisions for Melatonin, but afterward I am working on a series of short stories with another author whose book I have just finished publishing that should be available in the coming weeks. She is a brilliant author with a lot of promise and soon you can check out Shelley Churchwell's breakthrough novel Water Kisses on Amazon. One of my favorite shorts is one I am currently writing called "Mantis Man," which is about a human-sized mutant preying mantis as seen through the perspective of various people, some who survive and others who aren't so fortunate. After that there's book two of the Joel Black Series after Melatonin is revised. I haven't decided on a title yet, but the working title is The Life and Times of Andy Glass. There are many other projects I have in mind as well including a new novel based on a true story about an ex-CIA trained torturer in Honduras by the name of Jose Barrera.