Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Gordon Dymowski: AKA The Writer of AKA The Sinner

By day, Gordon Dymowski is a writer/blogger for a variety of outlets (including I Hear of Sherlock and Chicago Now). He also consults for a variety of nonprofits and small businesses and runs the Chicago Doctor Who Meetup and Freelancers Union/Spark Chicago.

By night, he writes stories of action and intrigue. Tales which stimulate the intellect while tugging at the heartstrings. Tales of mystery, intrigue, and imagination. His work includes stories for Pro Se Productions, Space Buggy Press, and Airship 27 Productions. Gordon also has a small number of academic articles on popular culture and frequently serves as a panelist for several conventions.

Tell us a bit about your latest work.

Back in November, I was fortunate enough to have my first novella, AKA THE SINNER: Cover of Night published by Pro Se Productions. Earlier in 2017, my short story “In the Frame” (featuring the hardboiled detective duo of Buster Keaton & Harold Lloyd... yes, you read that correctly) was included in Pro Se’s Hollywood Mystery collection, and I had two essays -- one focused on Firefly, another on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, included in the DePaul Pop Culture Celebration collection Time Lords & Tribbles, Winchesters & Muggles.

What happened in your life that prompted you to become a writer?

I grew up an only child, so I ended up relying a lot on creating my own adventures. My mom would often bring home unused computer paper (you know, the kind that you needed to place on spindles), and I would often draw – and write – long stories. (In fact, I recently found an old story I wrote in the third grade about heading to an old house and finding a lost dog). I realized that my talents were mostly verbal (I was the near stereotypical “fat kid” in high school), and so relied on that... mostly through bad love poetry and essays.

Throughout the years, I kept my hand in it, even starting my own personal blog called Blog THIS, Pal about 14 years ago. I began co-writing a blog for Chicago Now seven years ago and currently write my own blog for Chicago Now while building my fiction career...and it was all because I was bored.

What inspires you to write?

Whenever I think of a story, whether I’m pitching for a specific work or simply putting together a tale, I usually start with a general idea and then work through the emotional implications. It’s usually a case of letting the tale flow and working through the complications.

However, I am finding that my current writing has a certain political tinge to it. (It’s unconscious, but it’s there). I’m also more than willing to let other factors influence my writing. AKA THE SINNER: Cover of Night was initially inspired by last year’s events in Charlottesville. However, another source of inspiration was reading conversations about Asian American representation in media (sparked by a casting director’s comments). Thanks to two friends posting and retweeting these conversations, I was able to write a more well-rounded character in Amy Hirano, a Japanese-American lawyer who lives in Chicago’s Rogers Park. So I can honestly say that my friends provide some inspiration…and I owe my friends thanks as well as baked goods. 

Another novelette for another publisher started as a pure Western… but as I wrote it, I realized that it was a deeper political allegory. Plus, one of the plot points I had initially conceived was historically inaccurate. So taking both, I chose to let them influence the story to the point where I was comfortable with those factors being totally invisible. (Meaning that when you read it, you won’t feel like you’re being indoctrinated)

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

I’m not sure I’m conscious of all of the themes in my work; I would rather tell the tale and let others make that judgment. It’s not arrogance on my part -- more that it’s easier for me to write and examine it later than think, “Here are the great themes of my work.”

One of the subjects that I find myself writing about frequently is the idea of supremacy over others. Many of the antagonists in my stories have unrealistic or near-narcissistic beliefs, whether based on racism (AKA the Sinner: Cover of Night, some future stories for Pro Se), a belief in their individual “superiority” ("When Angels Fall" in Dreamers Syndrome: New World Navigation and "Crossing McCausland" in Tall Pulp), or the belief that their “uniqueness” entitles them to specific rewards (“The Magnificent Anderson” in Black Bat Mystery Volume 3, “Cowboy of the Dakotas” in Pulpternative). I don’t know why that has a fascination for me -- maybe it’s the idea that villains consider themselves the hero of their own story. (Maybe it’s a reflection of something about me that I do not want to admit). But I am interested to see where my writing takes me, and more importantly if I can start writing a more diverse array of characters.

What would be your dream project?

Purely from an old-school nostalgic standpoint -- the Three Investigators. It was the “young adult” mystery of its time, has elements of pulp, and ironically is still big in Germany. (Trust me – there were two films made of these characters). I think there’s room for a good, solid, pulpy take on young adult literature…and I’m more than happy to make it happen.

What are the books that made you want to be a writer? What are the reasons they "got" you like they did?

If I look back at everything that I’ve read, I think there are a few books/series that really struck home for me. When I was in high school/college, it was Stephen King’s work, especially Danse Macabre.

I know a non-fiction work that discusses horror sounds unlikely… but the fact that he took a nuts-and-bolts approach to a subject made me realize that there was more to storytelling than just putting it out there. With Phillip Jose Farmer’s Doc Savage: His Apocalyptic Life, there was a fascination with the fact that a fictional “world” could exist.

In terms of fiction, several books that I encountered in college were critical in helping me realize, "yes, I can do this." Robert B. Parker’s Early Autumn and Piri Thomas’ Down These Mean Streets really had an impact on me because they both had a unique view of the world…but also a really engaging prose style. (I revisit both books on a regular basis). I’m also a huge fan of Mark Evanier and Dan Spiegel’s work on Crossfire for Eclipse Comics. After reading these, I realized that I could tell the kind of stories that I wanted in the way that I wanted -- after all, these three works were able to articulate a specific worldview in a very specific manner. If these authors could do it, well… so could I.

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

Years ago, I had the opportunity to revive the public domain character Wonderman for Excelsior Webcomics. Click on the link and… well, it was my first comic work. It’s good, but it’s a little too wordy. I also could have sharpened the script a little more so the artist had a much clearer understanding of what I was going for. (Example: a panel with a violent act was supposed to be in silhouette…but the artist made it blatant). I have improved since that time, obviously, but that’s one project that I know I can improve.

Any other upcoming projects you would like to plug?

I have several stories coming out via Pro Se Productions, including one classic character, one “cult” pulp character, and my first novel which is a Leverage-style take on a classic pulp character. I have two stories (including a Masked Rider novella) in the publication queue at Airship 27 Productions. In addition, I have written a six-page Black Bat comic for the Always Punch Nazis benefit anthology, and my work for Last Ember Press on The Crimson Badge will make its debut as a webcomic in the near future.

For more information, visit:

For those interested in checking out my work, you can visit my personal website at http://www.gordondymowski.com or my Amazon page at http://bit.ly/GDymAuthor

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