By day he's a mild-mannered blogger. By night he's a dashing and daring creator of high-octane adventure. He's Gordon Dymowski, the man whose last name I've misspelled in the labels section of the blog more than any other name. It's been a while since we've talked with him, so I figured it was time to give him the floor all to himself.
What are the books that made you want to be a writer? What are the reasons they "got" you like they did?
When I was in grammar school, I read everything that was available – old Tom Swift and Hardy Boys books, but the series that led me to want to write was the Three Investigators – they were my age! They lived in a trailer in a junkyard! And of course, I could create my own adventures…
…but my real writing impetus came in college, when my reading diet consisted of Raymond Chandler, Robert B. Parker, Jim Thompson, Harlan Ellison, and Mickey Spillane. They all had the kind of prose that looked easy to write…until I actually tried to write in that style. But I think all of these writers have great, straightforward prose with little pretensions – they tell a story, and they don’t wear their major themes on their sleeves.
What is your writing Kryptonite?
One of my biggest weaknesses as a writer is staying committed to the story – personal issues can often be distracting, and I often want to write tons of purple prose….and then, I have to edit.
I’m not a big fan of authors who advise younger writers to “Kill your darlings” because many of those same authors don’t follow their own advice. (I’m looking at you, Stephen King). For me, I’ve learned to counter that weakness with an attitude that I’m removing stuff that doesn’t make the story work. If I kill all my darlings, I would never get anything written, but if I eliminate the more self-indulgent prose, I find that my writing is that much tighter, more evocative, and more pleasing to read.
How do your writer friends help you become a better writer? Or do they not?
Some of my writer friends help simply by encouraging me to move forward, as well as by putting out some great stuff. Others act as sounding boards…sometimes; I need advice on writing characters of color, or insight into certain aspects of life that I have never experienced myself. Even when I think I’m doing it right, I need a double-check, and I’m glad I have many friends who keep me honest in my writing.
What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Setting aside time to concentrate and write…it’s sometimes easier when I’m doing other writing and freelance work. However, I’ll often need to concentrate on a professional deadline and really have to focus in order to free up writing time. Of course, the other difficult part – having the ideas flowing in my head and being too tired to type or write them out.
What does literary success look like to you?
Simple – my books and stories sell, and people enjoy them. Making a living from my writing would be nice; however, I think mixing my pulp writing with freelance and other work assignments would be a good mix, allowing me to live comfortably without having to compromise one for the other.
Tell us a bit about your latest work.
My most recent story was “Cowboy of the Dakotas” for Pro Se Productions’ Pulpternative, a series of pulp-tinged alternate history tales.
In 1885, after his mother and wife die on the same day, Theodore Roosevelt went west, settled in a ranch outside of Medora, ND, and became a cowboy, returning to New York (and politics) three years later. My story asks the question, “What if Theodore Roosevelt decided not to return to New York?” There’s also another historical figure in the story, but he’s also in a different mode. (I won’t spoil, but let’s just say that he had a history before the event that we best know him for. And yes, it’s a him). It’s a really cool tale that I think is my best story… yet.
(I’m always working towards writing my best story…and you can read my other efforts in Pro Se’s Moose & Skwirl and Tall Pulp, Airship 27 Productions’ Black Bat Mystery Volume 3 and Legends of New Pulp, and Space Buggy Press’ Dreamers Syndrome: New World Navigation)
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book or story?
I haven’t really started any series of books (although I’m in contention with…but that would be telling). However, most of my stories are more about building a central world that others can play in….I may create the occasional Easter egg, but otherwise, I believe they should stand alone.
However, I’m working on creating my own characters and universes….in that instance; I may opt to create shared universes. Part of my reluctance is that I’ve always been a fan of done-in-one stories. However, having growing subplots throughout a series of books – much like The Destroyer series in the 1990s – is something I would love to try at some point. But for now, I’m more than happy to craft one-shots and single stories.
Any other projects you would like to plug?
I’m really looking forward to my recent work for Last Ember Press, The Crimson Badge, being released as a web comic. Ray Hutchinson is crushing it in the artwork, and it’s….well, the best way to describe the story is “Sunset Boulevard meets Leverage.” Or “Raffles works for MGM in the 1930s.” You’ll just have to read it yourself – check out http://www.lastemberpress.com (and be sure to support them on Patreon – they’re putting out some really cool stuff).
Keep an eye out for my story “In the Frame” in Pro Se Productions’ Hollywood Mystery, two stories for Airship 27 Productions (including a Masked Rider novelette).
If you’re interested in learning more about me (including other publications), check out my website:
http://www.gordondymowski.com or my Amazon.com page at http://bit.ly/GDymAuthor.