Well, it is our final Guest Blogger Thursday! I hope you’ve all had fun :-)
So for our last Guest Blog, please welcome David Arney!Here we go!
Tell us a bit about yourself –what genre you write and any work you currently have published?
I usually go by Dave to people that know me, but I use D. M. Arney Books for my little publishing endeavor. I write under three names, D. M. Arney for my Xanatos series which is SciFi/Fantasy for the New Adult reading group. I have a Queer Fiction imprint under the name Michael Moye where I plan to publish my own work as well as new and interesting voices with something unique to share. And I just launched my erotica imprint Dean Sage recently, where I'll focus mainly on modern erotic romance, but I also plan on doing some steamy cross overs from my Xanatos series, sort of like shipping my own characters I guess.
What inspired you to start writing?
I'm dyslexic, so language and words were a mystery to me, something that was troubling and inspiring. Writing became a way to master my fear, to control what I felt was uncontrollable. Because language was and is difficult, it feels like there's all these things trapped in my head. Writing is a way to excise them. To take the lives and worlds that tilt and twirl through me and let them out relieves the pressure just enough to keep me mostly sane.
Sounds great David, how did you come up with the title of your first book?
I wanted to write a better Darth Vader, but it was the height of Harry Potter glitter in the US, so I started with the title “Xanatos and the Forgotten Children.” Luckily, as I actually wrote the story and realized I was breaking out of Young Adult and into what would eventually come to be known as New Adult, the title went through various changes until it became simply “Forgotten.” “Xanatos and the Spear of Destiny” become “Destiny,” and book three, “Xanatos and the Aeternal Flame” became just “Aeternal.”
I've pulled these three out print recently though, as I'm relaunching my Xanatos character in a serial format, the way I had first intended when it was supposed to be a sort of Graphic Novel, novel. The first series is going to be called Hunted. I'm sticking with the one word titles, it's kind of the Xanatos thing now.
Is there a message in your first book that you want readers to grasp?
I'm going to talk about my first Dean Sage title, Dripping Wet. At it's core, it's a story of possibility, of accepting yourself. I tend to put a lot of ambiguity regarding sexual orientation in my work. It's how I experience the world, so I don't like hard lines and definitions. I suppose the message would be that love is something that mingles with sex and lust, but isn't born out of it. Enzo's journey through both lust and love, and his eventual ability to find it in an unexpected place is sort of how I view my own romantic history. I started with assumptions and slowly learned to let them go, until one day, I turned around and there was someone who totally changed my life.
How much of this book is realistic?
I like slightly playful stories. Almost like magical sexual realism. So in Dripping Wet the university requires male athletes to swim nude. To a US reader, that's pretty un-realistic, but nude male swimming is actually a very old tradition, and something that continued into the 20th century, even in organized settings. And after seeing the coverage of divers from this last Olympics, I have to wonder why we even bother with speedos to begin with.
As for the characters, I feel that all my character are real because I use “The Method” to create them. They're alive in my head, and though they are acting out a story, they are helping to share it as well. I suppose that means that a lot of me is in everything that I write as well. So I hope that my readers see the depth of emotions as real in what I write.
It's romance, so there's a happy ending, which unfortunately, isn't exactly realistic, but we don't read stories to see a reflection of our life. We read stories to get an enjoyable experience that stops with at least some sort of conclusion, hopefully one that at least leaves us satisfied.
Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
As I said above, I use “The Method” when I'm writing my characters. They are alive in my head, they live and act and try things out. I suppose they are fractured senses of me. In my Queer Fiction novel Cry, Baby I took that to the extreme, taking an emotionally charged year of my life and fictionalizing the different facets of my experience into a cast of characters.
While I may take bits and pieces of people I have known, what eventually becomes a character is wholly contained within itself. Nick goes commando all the time in Dripping Wet and I knew a guy at work who was the same. We even talked about it at length one break. But Nick isn't him, I just liked what that little quirk said about the guy I knew and found it useful in building Nick's character in Dripping Wet.
That's true of most of my characters. I find the small things that set them apart and build from there. People are mostly the same in most situations, so you'll waste your time trying to build a character who resembles no one you know. Instead I find the quirks that stand out, and work forward and backward from there. I find that I know the emotional depths of the characters but sometimes they surprise me with the details of where those came from.
What are your current projects?
I'm relaunching my Xanatos series. I'm trying to write at least one or two Dean Sage titles a month, and am planning an erotic serial based on a character from the Xanatos universe as a sort of cross over between my imprints. And I'm working on a few different ideas for the Michael Moye imprint. My most recent idea involves a Femboy, a subject I find alluring and fascinating, but something I don't feel that I totally understand either.
I'm trying to work out the balance between the three things, but I'm AD/HD so it's sort of essential that I have a few things going at once.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I've fallen in love with first person, present tense, event though I started with the grand third person way back when. I'm also working out a minimalist style where I rarely give details about appearance or setting beyond the minor differences. I have the strong opinion that readers imagination is more powerful than my ability to describe things in words. So I've slowly been developing a way to share what I feel in strong metaphors and allow the reader to construct the world as they see it.
I'm even trying out short pieces with no gender descriptions as well. Sort of the ultimate projection test. I'm not sure I'll be able to publish something of any length like that, but it would be amazing to get it just right so that the character was whatever gender you imagined.
It may fail completely, but I'm enjoying the pursuit of the ultimate minimalist novel.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Mr. Montes, my Freshman English teacher ignored my spelling and grammar and for the first time told me I had something unique to say. He didn't turn back my papers with thousand of red marks, he just engaged me in conversation when he couldn't engage my writing. Then he slowly helped me to say what I was trying to say on paper. I wouldn't be alive, let alone an author, if he hadn't stopped the madness and let me see there is more to writing than spelling things correctly and putting commas in the right places.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Description of settings always drives me nuts when I read. I want to hurt Dickinson for hours wasted on insignificant details in English class. So I find that sometimes I give too little accounting of place. Finding the right balance makes my head hurt some days.
Who designed the covers?
I do. I've loved design and fonts since I can remember. It's as close to fine art as I can get. You don't get to do much layout inside the book, but the cover still takes a good eye and a fine hand.
What was the hardest part of writing your first book?
Finding my voice instead of imitating others. I had the help of a very good friend to do that. She helped me find my way through the story until it emerged. Lots and lots of rewriting. I have five handwritten versions of that first book, and now, six years later, I'm rewriting it again. But that's how it works. You have to keep working on it to get it right.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Learn the rules and then ignore them while you find your voice. Don't let the advice of other cloud who you are. Every famous author does something “wrong” and a lot of boring and mediocre authors do everything “right.” So you should know when you break rules why you're doing it, but don't worry about it. I use adverbs. I don't believe they are evil, I think they're just the drink of the moment. Mark Twain railed against adjectives.
You need to find your voice, your approach to story. Second guess what you've written after you've written it, not before. Editing will improve good work, it can't make bad work anything but bad work with good grammar and spelling.
Wonderful advice David!
Now for those questions about romance!
How do you usually spend Valentine’s Day?
Writing. Things are always better in my imagination. And it's hard to love me, apparently. But that's fine. Apparently that's a sign that I'm a great author. ;)
Hahaa, aw! What would be your ideal date? (What would you do? Where would you go?)
I've had a few ideal dates. My first was the walk home from Disneyland to our hotel. Ice Cream melting, just me and someone I was crazy about. It was the first time I'd gotten an honest moment. I think that's what I want, just an honest moment. Doesn't matter where or when.
Have you ever been on a date like that?
A few times.
Ever had a terrible first date? If so, how?
Met someone online, great talk, invited her out to a concert. She looked, and I have the evidence of my best friend to back me up, just like my mom. I couldn't do it, but I couldn't be rude. Needless to say, she didn't call me after.
Oh my! Do you believe in love at first site?
I believe in the first sight of love. I've had it. They open the car door, and your eyes meet and you just know, this is what love is. I guess it could be the first time your eyes meet, but I'm complicated so I doubt it.
Who was your first celebrity crush?
I was trying to figure this out the other day. I know that Wesley Crusher on Star Trek was there for a time. But I was more jealous than attracted. It might have been Barret Oliver from Never Ending Story or D.A.R.Y.L. I remember the entire cast of the New Mickey Mouse club was pretty much nice to look at, and most of them still are.
What do you think is the most important value in a relationship?
Reciprocation. I've had too many lopsided loves. It doesn't have to be completely even, but if one person isn't willing to give back, to engage back, it's hard to have a real relationship. Of course honesty about what you feel or don't feel is tantamount to that.
Thank you that David, it's been wonderful having you here today!
Where can we find out more about you and your books and how may readers contact you?
There's a contact form on my website. I'm on Twitter (@dmarneywrites), which is probably the best way to chat quickly about anything. Dean Sage has a newsletter you can sign up for to get some free flash fiction and sneak peeks at upcoming releases.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I write because I feel like I can entertain as well as get people to think from time to time. But I love feedback. I don't think I'm amazing, and I want to get better. Nothing would make me happier than getting a sexy or awesome idea from a reader and writing a story dedicated to them. Please let me know what I can do to give you a better story.
Brilliant David, and thanks again for being here today!