Monday, January 2, 2012

Scaring you into loving his stories: Darryl Dawson

Author:  Darryl Dawson Brown

Works for:

SNG Coordinator · Phoenix, Arizona
I tune in all the tragedy and despair the world has to offer and beam it into your TV sets.
And in his spare time, he writes the kind of horror stories that give a grown man, a COLD SWEAT.

Interview with Darryl Dawson:

Why don’t we start off with a small introduction? Tell us a little about yourself. 

My name is Darryl Brown, but when I write stories I'm Darryl Dawson.  I was born in Los Angeles; I was raised by a pair of teachers in a lovely suburban neighborhood by the beach.  I've been a professional writer since 2009 when The Crawlspace came out, and right now I have another book available called Cold Sweat, which is an eBook only.  And I'm currently working on a novel which hopefully should be ready sometime this year.

Any interesting writing quirks or stories you would like to share with my readers?

I think the most interesting story probably involves the first short story I ever wrote back when I was in high school.  I had written a story about a vampire prostitute.  I think it was called "Woman of the Night," and it was very dark and edgy as you might imagine.  I don't remember any specific lines from it, but I remember the last line was "…and she plunged her fangs into his throat."  Anyway, I had entered that story into a regional creative writing contest for students, and it won first place.  And I was so happy that I'd won, and so was my family.  My story was printed in a regional publication, and I remember being so excited to see my story in print, until I got to the last line, which to my complete surprise and disappointment had been changed without my permission.  It now read "…and she plunged her knife into his throat."  When I confronted my Creative Writing teacher about it, she said she had done it because that ending was "more appropriate" for the story.  I was so disgusted I didn't even show up to the awards ceremony to pick up my trophy.  So that was my first experience with censorship!

When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?

I think back in 2004 was the first time I had seriously considered being a writer.  I was toying around with short horror stories, and had written a few up to that point, but never published them until recently.  I had self-confidence issues I had to get over, and I did with a little help.

What sparked the desire to pen your first novel?

I think part of the spark was not being satisfied with publishing just the one book.  I think every writer dreams of writing a book that people will talk about for a long time, and I believe the subject matter of "If It Bleeds" has that kind of potential.  I think it was Toni Morrison who said "If there's a book you've always wanted to read but it hasn't been written yet, then you must write it."  So "If It Bleeds" is the book I've always wanted to read about the television business.

What genre do you write?

I write horror.  It's the only genre I've written in so far.

Any research needed for horror writing?

I think the best research is to read other horror books and experience a good horror movie every now and then.  I like ghost stories, so I read a few paranormal books to get an idea of how ghosts "work."

Why horror as a genre?

The short answer I like to give is "The dark places are more fun!"  I like the idea of being pursued by things for which there is no scientific explanation and there's no easy answer on how to get rid of them.  And I like how in many horror stories, those things—the monsters, if you will—serve as metaphors for human experiences like sex, fear of death, fear of disease, and so forth.  I find horror to be very limitless in that regard, and that's the biggest part of its appeal.

What would you say has inspired you most in your writing career?

I would say my biggest inspiration is an old television show called "Night Gallery."  I watched it in syndication when I was in middle school, and it's still one of my favorite TV shows of all time.  I watched a lot of "Twilight Zone" as well.  I have a lot of admiration for Rod Serling as a writer, especially the realness he brings to his characters.

Who is your favorite author and why?

Ray Bradbury, if I had to choose one.  "Dandelion Wine" is my favorite book of all time.  Bradbury is the only author I've read that can take ordinary situations and turn them into something truly magical.

What does your family think of your writing?

My family is wonderfully supportive.  I remember last year when I had a signing in Huntington Beach, everyone showed up…Mom, Dad, big brother, and my sister-in-law and her family.  And they all helped make it into an event!  And even though not many of them are horror fans, they still support what I do, and that means everything to me.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your book?

I think the most surprising thing was how well I was able to still construct a story after having forgotten most of my formal creative writing instruction.  I guess one would say it's like riding a bike, but I think most of that comes from reading a lot.

What inspired you to write your novel?


My experience working in television is probably the biggest inspiration.  Id been working in TV for going on 18 years, and throughout the course of those years I've discovered a lot about myself and about the industry.  And this novel is a way of getting things off my chest in that regard. 

Can you tell us about your novel and the add-on book with three stories in it?


The novel will be called "If It Bleeds," and it's the story of a guy who works as a video editor for a local TV station.  A few years prior he was involved in an accident that killed a co-worker and he's had to live with that guilt for a number of years.  There's a new boss at the TV station he works at who offers him a position as a photojournalist, which he reluctantly accepts.  But little does he know that this new boss is one of Satan's minions, and he's working on a plan to possess everyone's souls on a mass scale, and our hero is unknowingly a part of the plan.  So the story revolves around the guy discovering the truth about what he's doing to help destroy mankind, and how he intends to stop it, and also protect his newborn son in the process.

That novel is currently under construction, no release date yet.  In the meantime, I released a small, three story collection called "Cold Sweat," which is available as a 99-cent eBook on Smashwords.com and a few other online retailers.  "Cold Sweat" drew its inspiration from James Brown, and what I did was take three titles of James Brown songs and create horror stories around them.  The first story is "Night Train," which is about a mythical underground train that helps criminals run away from law enforcement.  The second is "The Big Payback," which is about a man who's about to commit suicide who is given one last chance to get revenge on the one man who ruined his life.  And the third is "Soul Power," about the ghost of a disc jockey who returns to the place where he was murdered to try and find his long, lost love.  All three of the stories are brand new and available only as an eBook, not in print.  I would suggest going directly to my website at www.fearofsleeppress.com to find out more about this book.

Do you have a novel synopsis or jacket copy? Can you read something to us?

A novel synopsis is not ready yet, but I can read a chapter to you.  (Ch 4)

Where can we find your novel?

Again, it's not completed yet.  I'm hoping to pitch it to a major publisher when it's ready.  If not, it'll most likely be on my own Fear Of Sleep imprint.

Do you have a website, fan site, or Blog that we can visit?

Yes, www.fearofsleeppress.com.  I'm also on Facebook as "thecrawlspace" and on Twitter as "ddcrawlspace."

Do you have any closing advice to aspiring writers?

The best advice I can give is to share what you write with other people.  Don't be too proud to take criticism or advice from people who are in positions to help you.  And read a lot.

What special marketing do you do to get the word out about your book(s)?

I go to as many genre conventions as I can.  In fact next week I'm going to be at DarkCon at the Phoenix Marriott in Mesa, Arizona.  That's a huge sci-fi/gaming event that will take place from the 12th through the 15th.  I'll be in the Dealer's Room signing copies of "The Crawlspace."

I've found conventions to be the best way to market my book, because you're going directly into the reader's world instead of them having to find you.  And chances are if they like your book, they'll tell somebody about it, so it's a good way to get your name out there.

My Special question: 

Now that you have successfully slain the dragon, how will you celebrate?

There's no time to celebrate, as there are many more dragons to be slayed!


EXCERPT from COLD SWEAT:
Night Train (Reading)
 
Belinda remembered what the man had told her. “Climb in, sit and wait, and it
will come. You’ll know when it’s coming.”

She lay curled up in the cramped, putrid darkness of the storm drain on the
western edge of the I-17 frontage road, in the spot where Mista G told her she needed to
go. He had mentioned something about a train that would take her away, far away where
she couldn’t be found. It sounded like a fairy tale to her and yet, she believed him, and
she believed that nothing else could help her now that she was running from the law.
Her frail, teenage body was dampened in sweat and sewage as she walked into the
pipe with no source of light to guide her way. The air was almost unbreathable and her
guts clenched with nausea. The deeper she creeped, the more the sounds of cars and
trucks rumbling on the concrete over her head began to fade. She was too far from the
drain opening. She was lost. Her eyes were stinging. She doubted Mista G’s story, but
anything was better than prison, which for her was a certainty after fucking up a robbery
at a Circle K.

She stopped and brushed the cockroaches off her legs, surrounded in darkness and
the smell of used motor oil, feces and urine. She bowed her head and clasped her hands,
wanting to pray, but not knowing what to pray for. And then she heard it coming.
A pinpoint of light appeared in the black distance, and with it came a faint,
metallic chugging sound that grew with intensity. The light drew forward with the rising
sound, widening and beaming brighter.

Belinda felt dizzy. She wasn’t sure if the poisonous air was playing tricks with
her mind, or if her blank check prayer was answered and Mista G had told her the truth.
By instinct she stood up and backed away as the light rushed toward her.

A violent squealing of brakes slowed the cadence of the chug-chug-chug sounds
and a warm gust of oily air blasted her as the massive passenger train grinded its speed to
a crawl. A train! Her jaw slacked open.

She stood only a few feet from where any tracks should have been. The bright
halogen light pointed into a space behind her. It crept, then stopped.

A bright orange glow like the light of a smoggy sunset burst from the seams of the
windowless passenger car that parked right in front of her, bringing a faint illumination to
the foul, concrete space. Something rumbled from within, and Belinda wasn’t sure if it
was the train’s engine. But how the hell could a train even be here? she thought.

The car door opened, and inside she saw no seats, no overhead bins, no man
waiting to check her ticket. Inside, there was only a vast landscape that stretched out to
infinity, resembling a beach without an ocean. On the horizon was a dull orange sky
without a sun. “Oh, my God,” was all Belinda could say. It felt like a meth high, but she
wasn’t using right then. To her, the sight was beautiful, miraculous.

She stepped up to the door and pulled herself in. The air inside was far cleaner
than the storm drain but cold. Bitter, painful cold. Her sneakers dug into an icy sand that
felt like an electrical charge at her feet. She turned behind her, and the door was nothing
more than an opening that quickly slammed shut and disappeared. The orange sky
darkened, and Belinda could only feel a regretful dread as the wheels began to grind
underneath, and the train started to move again.

The sand climbed up her ankles. She hated the cold, hated Mista G.
She heard the flap of large wings and felt sharp stings in her back. Before she
could scream, something grabbed her by the nostrils and tilted her head back, and a long,
cold arm reached down her throat.

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