Author Spotlight – Daniel Reiner
Joining us for today’s Author Spotlight is Daniel Reiner!
Daniel Reiner is a native of Pittsburg, PA. Spending his formative years at Carnegie Mellon University, it was there he discovered the world of H.P. Lovecraft in the old Del Rey paperbacks. Later, with a burst of creativity, he eventually became comfortable enough in that world to carve out his own niche, and populate it with memorable characters.
A lover of dogs of all shapes and sizes, his readers can be assured that any dog appearing in his writings will never be killed by a monster, human, or otherwise.
His debut novel The Shadow Beyond was released 29th March and can be purchased here.
Thanks for joining us today, Daniel. Let’s start small: tell us about a great book you’ve read recently!
Argh. This might be the hardest one. At least, it’s the most embarrassing: I’ve been concentrating on writing so much recently that I’m woefully behind on reading. But, the last book I read and greatly enjoyed was Destroyer of Worlds, by Larry Niven and Ed Lerner. I got hooked on Niven’s Known Space series in high school, and it’s never disappointed. I liked Destroyer because it provides even more glimpses into the universe I’ve been reading about for decades. He’s not only created alien races, but alien motivations. And technology: tons of geeky technology. It’s just fun to think about.
Okay, time to escalate things: reality warps and you suddenly find yourself leading a D&D-style party through a monster-infested dungeon. What character class are you, and what’s your weapon of choice?
Thief suits me best: working in the shadows, away from the spotlight, yet getting things done through intelligence, stealth and dexterity. And if I have a choice, my weapon would be the “dart” used by Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies – though my version would be magically mind-controlled instead of relying on technology. And let’s make it out of a hyper-exotic, vibranium-mithril alloy while we’re at it.
When you’re not trawling through dungeons, do you prefer to type or to hand-write? Why?
These days, I only hand-write to-do lists and reminders: go to the store, call Mom, shave, … The patience for writing (or in my case, printing) is long gone. I need to type everything – but on a real keyboard. None of this phone nonsense. I’ll use a phone to send texts or make posts when needed, but I want a real screen and a normal-sized keyboard to work on anything of note.
And how do you like to work – in silence, with music, or serenaded by the damned souls of a thousand dead shrimps?
Music is definitely out; it’s way too distracting. Silence is best. Given a choice of background noise, I suppose I prefer the damned spirits of the wood, in any form: dead, living, tortured, terrified, … For some reason, the trees call out to me. On a more serious note, the odor of fallen, decaying leaves in Autumn does seem to stir something extra in my imagination.
Are you an architect or a gardener? A plotter or a pantser? D’you write in your underwear, or in a deep-sea diver’s suit? Tell us something unusual about your writing method!
Umm, sorry. Mr. Boring here. I do the same as everyone else: invoke Yog-Sothoth with the Sigil of the Eye and Claw, chant the accursed words thrice, gaze in the direction of Algol for a time, then start typing. And words appear.
What are your most significant non-book fantasy influences?
Role playing games. I had some wonderfully imaginative friends running the show for Dungeons & Dragons and Champions. Those two RPGs covered the width and breadth of my imagination: fantasy, mythology, scifi, comic books. In particular, a first edition copy of Deities and Demigods (for D&D), which illegally included the Cthulhu Mythos section, was my first exposure to H.P. Lovecraft. That was what set my writing in motion.
What was the last thing you watched on TV and why did you choose to watch it?
The Curse of Oak Island is an ongoing series (5? Years now) on the History Channel, and although it’s drawn out far, far too much, and the narration is endlessly repetitive and overly dramatic, I need to watch it. Like the one brother involved in the exploration, Rick Lagina, I read about the island in grade school and the story lodged in my mind. It’s a fact that many mysteries in this world will ever remain unknowable or unsolvable due to the passage of time, but I believe that this is one that can be solved if enough money is thrown at it. And it looks like these guys have enough money. I really want to find out what’s been buried under the ground.
The world shifts, and you find yourself with an extra day on your hands during which you’re not allowed to write or otherwise do any work. How do you choose to spend the day?
Take a unicycle ride in the morning, eat lunch, then spend the rest of the day walking with my wife from one brewery to the next in my general neighbourhood. Depending on how you define neighbourhood, we have eight – though I have to stress the fact that I know my limits, and see no point in trying for more than … five. Or six. Oh, what the hell. It’s a free day, and you only live once: eight. Boy, that would be a lot of walking, though.
If you could choose one punctuation mark to be made illegal, which would it be and why?
The exclamation point. At times, I’d miss it, but I could make do. And not having it would hurt me less than our elected head tweeter who relies on it like a drug. The exclamation point is the refuge of the unimaginative.
In no more than three sentences, tell us a little something about your current work in progress!
I’m working on a series of books set in Lovecraft’s early 20th century New England. The volumes won’t proceed in a conventional, linear manner, but the story lines will converge at the end. My current project is the second in the series, concentrating on the exploits of one of the characters introduced in the first.
If you could co-write or co-create a series (like The Expanse, or the Malazan Book of the Fallen), who would you choose to work with and why?
I would so much like to working alongside Alan Moore. What he did with comics in the UK (Marvelman, DR & Quinch, The Bojeffries Saga), then in the US (Swamp Thing, Watchmen, The Killing Joke) shows an incredible amount of creativity. He’s not exactly enamoured of the video and film industry though, so … I don’t see this collaboration happening.
What’s the most (and/or least) helpful piece of writing advice you’ve ever received?
Years ago, I think in 1999, I went to the NecronomiCon in Providence. At the time I was working on the first draft of my current novel, and thought I could learn something there about how to get it published. While wandering around, I happened to meet Joe Pulver, who had just had Nightmare’s Disciple published by Chaosium. Joe was kind enough to spend some time talking to me, giving me encouragement, and I was grateful for it.
If you could visit any country at any point in history, where/when would you go, and why?
There are too many to pick from, really. But, related to my Oak Island reference of unknowable mysteries, I think I’m going off the grid: Bolivia, around 1000 AD. I want to see how the stone blocks at Puma Punku were carved. The precision is just … unbelievable.
Every writer encounters stumbling blocks, be it a difficult chapter, challenging subject matter or just starting a new project. How do you motivate yourself on days when you don’t want to write?
The problem with this question is that it doesn’t apply. Although I’m a writer by virtue of having authored something, there are those 8-9 hours each day I still have to commit to a bill-paying career that involves not-writing. So, every chance that I do get to write, I do, or I spend time thinking about it, daydreaming up scenes and dialog. Please ask me this question again when I’m only doing writing-related things for a living, and I must (or should) write every day. At that point, I may get stuck and so may be forced to find a motivation.
Tell us about a book that’s excellent, but underappreciated or obscure.
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, by Poe. It starts out as a normal tale, but morphs into something truly weird – as in Lovecraft / Blackwood weird. The language is as formal as anything from that period, but still easily readable. And it manages to capture a snapshot of the cultural attitudes of the time – an ugly thing, but as a reader I appreciate those glimpses into the past. And best of all was seeing the detail borrowed by Lovecraft in At the Mountains of Madness.
Finally, would you be so kind as to dazzle us with what we like to call a ‘shark elevator pitch’? (It’s exactly the same as an elevator pitch, but with sharks.) (Well, one shark. Which, by the way, is currently picking between its rows of teeth to try and dislodge the remains of the last author who stepped onto its elevator.)
Ahem. So: why should readers check out your work? A shark elevator pitch of your own book(s) in no more than three sentences – go!
I’m borrowing Lovecraft’s ideas, but extending them to weave together a unique tapestry of plotlines and characters. I do enjoy writing about my world, and I think it shows.
Thanks again for joining us, Daniel, and good luck with your new release!
Daniel Reiner is the author of THE SHADOW BEYOND, available now from Vulpine Press.