Interview with Author Dan R. Arman

For the record, please state your name.

Dan R. Arman

 

What inspired you to become a writer?

Hard to say exactly when, but I know that when I was five, I went to see Star Wars in theater for the first time. Like many people, it blew me away, but it stirred something inside me that made me want to write stories of my own. I didn’t understand what that entailed back then, but I knew that would be part of my life. Then, when I was 8, I was making up silly stories about how these raccoons survived a global apocalypse (it was during the Cold War and nuclear war was a real possibility, even in the early 80s) and I was even putting on puppet shows for my friends and family. It was sort of a blend of Animal Farm, Lord of the Rings and The Day After. But I gave the stories to my third grade teacher and she encouraged me to keep writing. So I did.

 

What are you passionate about?

I’m a pop culture junkie, a reader, a board game fanatic, history buff, and total nerd. I’m also a teacher, so I’m passionate about learning and maintaining a sense of wonder and curiosity about the world.

 

What interests are you into?

As I mentioned before, board games, science fiction, reading, writing, but also I come from a family of gardeners, and my mother is an artist, so I’ve always been fascinated by art. I’m also a Civil War history buff, particularly since I’ve done research on my great great grandfather who fought at Gettysburg and Chancellorsville. In the summertime, I enjoy bike riding and occasionally a game of tennis or basketball.

 

What social media do you use to contact with your fans and what is your username on the different social media platforms? 

Right now, I’m on Facebook primarily, but I also use the handle @Achilles_Arman on Twitter.

 

What did you do before you became a published author?

I was a journalist. I was a reporter for a small-town newspaper in Orville, Ohio. I covered city and county government issues, primarily.

So I guess you could say I had my name in print before I got my name in print.

 

Do you have another job other than writing?

Right now I teach at an online high school called Insight. Before that I was an adjunct professor of English at Stark and a few other colleges.

 

How long have you been writing for?

Complicated answer: As a journalist, I wrote from 1995 to 1998. As a short story and novelist, I have been writing since I was eight, but my first published piece of fiction– a short story– did not happen until 1996 and my first novel wasn’t finished until about 2000.

 

What’s your writing style like?

That’s hard to say. I think it changes all the time, to suit the needs of the story and, of course, my development as a writer. I would say my early stories owe a debt to Asimov and Heinlein, though I would say that as I’ve tinkered to find my own voice, it’s diverged from my influences to something else.

 

What’s your favorite genre to write/read in and why?

My favorite is whatever I’m reading at the moment. Right now, I reading some steampunk, specifically Railsea by China Mieville. I’ve read a few other books by him. His use of imagery and the worlds he builds are exciting and creative to me.

 

What’s your least favorite and why?

It’s hard to say what my least favorite is. I’ll read almost anything once, but if I don’t like it, I won’t read again. I’m not a huge fan of most Victorian literature or the corset-busting variety of romance.

 

Some writers have something playing in the background, do you and what?

Music is a big part of my life. For me, the Beatles are my comfort food. I’ve been playing a lot of Paul McCartney lately, from Wings to his latest stuff. I also have been playing a bit of Elvis Costello. The aggressive rhythms of his early stuff really is nice to play while I’m writing as well as listening to his wordplay. He has quite a sharp tongue, and that I do appreciate.

 

What’s the inspiration behind your books?

Inspiration comes from all sorts of places. Sometimes from images I recall from dreams but also a combination of life situations and what I read. An example: My wife and I went on our first trip to Key West, Florida. While we were there we visited Hemingway’s house and I picked up a book called How to Write Like Hemingway. While we were biking around the island, I kept thinking, this place is just inches above sea level. If global warming keeps going, one day this could all be under water. So I tried to imagine what that would be like and then I set a challenge for myself: Write a story in the style of Hemingway that would be a post-apocalyptic story set in Key West. That idea became “Something About Harry,” a story in my Lightning’s Blues collection.

 

If you could do it all over again, would you change anything about your books?

Well, actually I republished my first book last year. I was unhappy with the editing job my old publisher (didn’t) do, and I felt it was a good story that needed a fair shake. Otherwise, if I publish a story, though I know it’s going to be perfect, I know it’s going to be my best effort at the time and I don’t think there’s anything I would change about those two books and sundry short stories that I would really change or do over.

 

Is there anything you found particularly challenging about writing?

For many years, as I was teaching and going to school for a Master’s Degree or working two jobs (teaching online and adjuncting at the college), it was super tough to find the time and energy to write. But when I met my wife Rose Withering, she encouraged me to find a balance between my day job and writing and rekindled my desire to get my stories told.

 

Who are your cover designers?

Actually, that would be me. It’s not what I planned when I decided to publish independently, but I tend to be a control freak, so my covers are actually my creations, usually photoshopped from several public domain art pieces and illustrations to hopefully create the illusion of a professional cover. But, in the future, I would like a real artist to take a crack at my books because while I’ve been lucky to get a couple good covers, an experienced professional is really what I need for my next book.

 

What authors are your inspiration?

Heinlein, Asimov, Kim Stanley Robinson for science fiction, George R.R. Martin for fantasy, James Michener for historical fiction, and overall I would say Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and Thomas Pynchon.

 

What is your take on fanfiction?

Well, it can be good or awful. I sometimes will read something a fellow fan has recommended, say an X-Files, Buffy or Star Trek fan fic, but I don’t write any myself. I love the worlds of science fiction, but it doesn’t interest me as a writer.

 

What advice would you give any newbie author or anyone that wants to pick up writing?

This sounds like a stupid, simple piece of advice, but recently I had a newbie tell me that they don’t read or do research. I found that offensive. As Stephen King once said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have time to write.” Writers should write what they know but even still, research is a key component of preparing to write. My influence, Hemingway, although he logged more time and kills hunting in Africa than any other writer still read Teddy Roosevelt’s books on hunting to prepare for Green Hills of Africa. So reading the genre of what you are writing and reading for style is essential.

 

For some fun questions now

 

What are your fondest childhood memories?

Can’t think of just one, so I’ll pick one at random: My grandparents took me on the Cuyahoga Valley train as a kid, back when it still ran by steam engine. That was a fond memory, not only of a fun ride, but of my grandparents.

 

If you don’t mind, tell us a little about your personal life?

Sure. I live with my wife and two cats in Akron.

 

Do you have any causes, charities, foundations that you are passionate about and donate to? if so why? how did you get involved??

My wife has the Giving Fund and I occasionally help her make decisions with that. We’ve given to some organizations we like. We were married at the home of writer Louis Bromfield, which is part of Malabar State Park, so we’ve supported that. It’s important to keep historical landmarks for future generations.

 

Do you have any pets?

Yes, two cats.

 

What age were you when you were first kissed and who was your high School sweetheart?

I didn’t have a high school sweetheart. I was too shy and focused on my studies. So unless you consider a kiss in a high school play a first kiss, then no. Sorry, my romantic life is perhaps the most boring part about me, at least until I met my wife.

 

What did you want to be when you were little?

I think, if I recall, besides being a writer, I thought about a career in science. That ended when I realized that I was really bored by math.

 

What is your favorite color?

Blue

 

What is your favorite food/s?

I love blueberries, mulberries, pears and really almost any kind of fruits. My parents grew a small orchard, so we always had plenty of fruit in the house.

 

What are you afraid of?

Right now, humankind’s propensity towards self-destructive behavior, whether it’s by ignoring warning signs in the environment or doing things that erode our freedoms and the integrity of democracies throughout the world. Part of what motivates me to write sci fi is the belief that it’s really about what’s going on today, the behaviors that could lead humans to destroy themselves or the world and the possible paths that could make our world a better place for our children to live in.

 

How old were you when you first got drunk?

Never.

 

What was your first car?

A red 1990 Chevy Corsica.

 

Did you live in a house or apartment when you were a child?

I lived in a “rural non-farm”. Which means I lived in the country, but we didn’t run a farm.

 

What was your favorite TV show as a child?

I liked Star Trek for the bright colors, but one of my favorite cartoons was a Japanese show called Starblazers.

 

What was your favorite book?

Growing up, it was Lord of the Rings. My mom read The Hobbit to me when I was in kindergarten, every morning while waiting for the bus.

 

Who did you have a crush on when you were in school and how old were you?

I am of a certain age of young men that grew up watching “Who’s The Boss?” not for the comedy, but because Alyssa Milano was super cute. Also, singer Susanna Hoffs of the Bangles was a big crush when I was in high school.

 

Tell us a little about yourself. Perhaps something not many people know about? Can you share with us the best way to contact you and where to find your work? This is where you have the floor.

Facebook Author Page Blog

 

Published works are available through Amazon and Barnes and Noble.com, as well as select libraries and independent booksellers, such as Last Exit Books in Kent, OH. Below are some direct links to my in-print books:

Bifrost River of Dreams Lightning’s Blues (short stories)

 

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