Thursday, March 13, 2014

Author Interview: Dusty Wallace

As Martinus Publishing has some new contributing authors, I'll be conducting interviews to help promote their anthologies/works.  Today, I'm interviewing Dusty Wallace, an exceptional author who contributed the short story End of the Rainbow to "Altered America."  Thank you for taking the time to be interviewed, Dusty.

MTI:  Starting off, could you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?

DUSTY WALLACE:  I’m a 30 year-old father of two boys, ages 9 and 2, who lives in the Appalachians of southwest Virginia. I was a stellar high-school student which led to some nice financial help going into college. I subsequently squandered that opportunity by being irresponsible and not doing any work. I’d planned on being a writer, but after dropping out I feared it would never happen. I’m working on proving myself wrong.

MTI:  Now, getting down to business; what first compelled you to weave fiction, and what's your favorite type of story to write?

DW:  Non-fiction was my first love, but without a degree it’s hard to find work in journalism. I blogged for a while but was ultimately inspired to write fiction after reading Margaret Atwood’s “Oryx and Crake.” For some reason I read it and thought, “I could do this.” I was wrong, though. Atwood’s a master. However, being featured in anthologies like Altered America is a step in the right direction.

My favorite type of story is something that combines weirdness with a character-driven narrative. Something that might look like mainstream drama at first glance, then the monsters appear. I also enjoy writing the occasional crime/mystery or western.

MTI:  Tell me, if you had to pick just one author who has influenced or inspired you, who would it be?

DW:  I mentioned Atwood before, but I’m inspired more by her greatness than her style. If I had to pick one, I’d say Joe Hill. For those who don’t know, he’s Stephen King’s son and may be on his way to becoming a household name. He tells great stories regardless of genre, but he also uses interesting story-telling mechanisms. His second novel, “Horns,” is a great example. It’s a basic murder mystery, but the powers bestowed to his protagonist make it play out in a way that’s extremely compelling.

MTI:  Your story, End of the Rainbow, appears in Altered America, an anthology of alternate histories.  The fictional accounts in this collection let us imagine what it would be like if something had happened differently at different points in history.  Tell us a little about how your story changes history.

DW:  The most obvious way is that my history has Elves and Leprechauns. Moreover, they aren’t the eternally-happy sprites of lore, nor do they make fudge cookies in the hollow of a tree. These fair folk have been at war over the last Philosopher’s Stone, stolen from the Elves decades ago. Also, Merlin makes an appearance as a scientist. However, he discovers the magical stone and thus the legend of his magic is born.  The story starts in the woods of Scotland and Ireland but ends up in modern day St. Louis.

MTI:  If you could go back in time and try to change any one historical event (aside from killing Hitler/stopping WWII—almost everybody tries that), which would you choose?

DW:  I think I would try to change early American history. I’d love to see an America built upon cooperation between settlers and Native America and one that had never began using slaves in the first place.

MTI:  Conversely, name a historical event that you would never want to see changed/would go back in time to stop somebody from changing it.

DW:  That’s a tough one. The butterfly effect makes me think nothing should ever be changed. For instance, if I could convince early Americans to forgo slavery and then somehow prevent the Trail of Tears, maybe America ends up getting nuked by Sweden. Why Sweden? Who knows? Everything’s changed. 

So, I guess I’d try to keep anyone from time-traveling in the first place... except in fiction.

MTI:  Shifting back to your writing, can you tell us a little about what you're working on right now?

DW:  I’m always working on new shorts and poems. There’s a piece shortlisted by a new magazine called Ares that I’m attempting to continue into novel length. It features a girl who can see movement of air thanks to genes from an ancient Greek named Aeolus who you may remember from Homer’s “The Odyssey.” She finds out that she’s not alone with her powers, and that while she can only see the movement of air, others can cause it to move. Meanwhile, there’s an evil organization looking to collect, study, and exploit these Aeolian descendents.

MTI:  Other than End of the Rainbow appearing in Altered America, do you have any other stories being published in the near future?

DW:  I have a flash-fiction story coming up in “Vignettes at the End of the World,” published by Apokrupha. The Anassa anthology “Local Magic” will feature a story by me called “The Miracle Hunter” that takes place in the Appalachians. Mad Scientist Journals will be publishing a piece of experimental fiction I wrote called “The Milkyway Zoo” next month. My new sci-fi poem, “DNR,” will be appearing on in the near future.

MTI:  On a lighter note, have you watched any good television lately?

DW:  Helix has turned out to be a terrificly creepy show. The latest season of BBC’s Sherlock was a mind-blowing adventure as well.

MTI:  What sort of music do you enjoy?

DW:  Heavy-Metal, Rap, Traditional Appalachian, Classical... anything but modern country.

MTI:  What are three of your favorite movies?

DW:  Casablanca, The Hustler, The Maltese Falcon (Bogart!)

MTI:  You have the attention of potential readers?  In conclusion, do you happen to have any words of wisdom to share with them?

DW:  Listen to criticism. Listen to criticism. Attentively listen to criticism.

Seriously, get some critiques from someone who doesn’t know you well. Find a writer online who you can connect with. And when they tell you that something needs to be addressed in your story, address it. Actually, if it’s someone who hates you but is still willing to swap stories, even better. You’ll never get an honest opinion from friends or family.

MTI:  Certainly some salient advice for fellow writers.  Thank you for the interview!  Those who’d like to read Dusty’s story and other alternate history tales can pick up Altered America.

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