INTERVIEW WITH ROBIN WYATT DUNN
Bio: Robin Wyatt Dunn lives in a state of desperation engineered by late capitalism, within which his mind is a mere subset of a much larger hallucination wherein men are machines, machines are men, and the world and everything in it are mere dreams whose eddies and currents poets can channel briefly but cannot control. Perhaps it goes without saying that he lives in Los Angeles.
Reading at Roar Shack in Los Angeles, my poem “Hollywood Men”, May 15, 2016
Hollywood men has been published here:
Reading “Man and Woman” which was published in Garbanzo Literary Journal #3
They also made a trailer for that book here:
Welcome to Roxana's Blog!
Q: Tell us a little about yourself and your background.
I was born in Wyoming in 1979, so I’m 37. I’ve had about one address for every year of my life. Favorite cities I’ve lived in include Los Angeles, California, Austin, Texas, Bronx, New York, and Oxford, England.
Q: Do you think that your school years have had an impact in your writing career? If so, what were you like at school?
I was fortunate to be a public school student in Texas as a kid when the state was still investing a lot of its oil money in public schools, so I actually had a PhD teach me third grade math. But I always liked learning so I didn’t need much encouragement.
I got my BA from Fordham University where they had a great honors program with an old fashioned ‘great books’ curriculum: read tons of literature, history, philosophy and art of the ancient, medieval, early modern and modern worlds.
Q: Were you good at English or like Einstein you excel now in a field that was a nightmare for you as a student?
I was always good at English.
Q: What are your future ambitions for your writing career?
It would be great to make some money but the kind of things I most enjoy writing don’t seem to have enormous commercial appeal.
Money aside, I’d like to develop my poetry so that it is more transformative; so that it can do things I don’t quite have the words for now.
I’d like to improve my prose too; I don’t know quite how.
Q: Which poets have inspired you and how? What was their impact on your work or your literary perspective?
Walt Whitman is like a nuclear bomb; the blast sort of clears out your mind of vegetation so you can see the world like he does, immense.
Emily Dickenson is like a spelunker; dragging you down into terrifying caves.
E.E. Cummings I read very young and was always amazed at what he did; I didn’t know you could do that with poetry.
Keats writes love better than anybody else.
Ginsberg is like a good sergeant, showing you where to march, and not letting you stop.
T.S. Eliot is a dreamer, like me. And I always liked his nightmarish landscapes, and how they intersected with the “normal” world.
Q: So, would you mind telling us what you have written so far?
I’ve written 16 books to date. 9 already published, 4 to be published this year, and 3 in 2017. They are listed below, some with links:
Forthcoming, Wine Country, poetry.
Forthcoming, 2DEE, a novel.
Forthcoming, Sunsborne, poetry.
Forthcoming, Black Dove, a novel.
Forthcoming, November 4, 2016, City, Psychonaut.
Forthcoming, September 10, 2016, Colonel Stierlitz, a novella.
Forthcoming, August 25, 2016, White Man Book.
December 30, 2015, Conquistador of the Night Lands.
December 7, 2015, Poems from the War, narrative poetry.
October 1, 2015, Julia, Skydaughter, a novella.
June 5, 2015, Last Freedom, a collection of short plays.
December 30, 2014, A Map of Kex's Face.
June 5, 2014, Fighting Down into the Kingdom of Dreams.
March 7, 2014, Line to Night Island, a novella.
August 28, 2013, My Name is Dee.
December 29, 2011, Los Angeles, or American Pharaohs.
I’ve also written 7 chapbooks of poetry:
April 24, 2016, Koreatown. Gypsy Daughter.
April 22, 2016, Mary. Rinky Dink Press.
December 30, 2015, Hanblečeya. White Knuckle Press.
January 20, 2015, Be Closer for my Burn. Crisis Chronicles Press.
October 21, 2014, Telegrams from X County. White Knuckle Press.
August 31, 2014, A Picnic in England. Gypsy Daughter.
November 13, 2013, Drive Thru Poems. White Knuckle Press.
I’m also fortunate to have had published a few hundred short stories, poems and essays. They are listed with links here:
Q: What are you working on at the minute? What’s it about?
I am working (slowly!) on a story about a man living in London who spends much of his time in a simulated version of his city. In the simulated version, war has destroyed the city and he lives in apartment he cannot leave, because of the fires and pollution. He is a scientist, trying to find out the connection between waking life and dreams.
Q: What genre are your books and what draws you to this genre?
They’re a mix of literary, science fiction, magical realism. But I just write whatever I find fun!
Q: When did you decide to become a poet? What was the decisive factor or you just took a pen and starting writing poems?
I’ve always written poetry. But I didn’t start writing books until after the Wall Street crash of 2008. Like many people I had a hard time of it, and books, for me, have been some of the best therapy.
Q: What makes you write? What’s the force behind taking your pen (or your keyboard) and put verses down?
Language infiltrates as well as reflects reality; we are always in a feedback loop with the world but language, and its precise control, gives us more influence over the world. Writing allows us to control our own destiny, as well as giving us a fuller understanding of all those areas of our lives over which we will never have any control at all.
Q: Do you write full-time or part-time? Do you have a special time to write or do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
I teach much of the year and write most summers. I do manage to write at other times too. I wrote a great deal when I was an MFA student but all good things come to an end!
Q: Where do your ideas come from? Or is it just the spur of the moment, a special feeling you experience or a specific conjuncture that offers you inspiration?
Like many writers, especially with poems and short stories, I am trying to capture a specific feeling, often one I experience when listening to music.
Novels are about feelings too, but more about ideas, for me, and trying to work them out on a large scale.
Q: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
I really have no idea; I think I’ve gotten better and others seem to agree with that. So cheers to me!
Q: In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
Q: Now, what about the easiest thing about writing?
Q: Do you ever get writer’s Block and if so do you have any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I’ve never had a serious case of it but minor cases I’ve had I’ve often managed to beat simply through self-discipline, like going to work even when it’s the last thing you want to do.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors? For your own reading, do you prefer eBooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I do prefer physical books. Reading many pages on a screen makes me tired, and I like turning pages.
Some of my favorite writers are Gene Wolfe, Peter Hoeg, Sheri S Tepper, James Joyce, William Faulkner, China Mieville, Bruce Sterling, William Gibson, Nicole Krauss, Michael Chabon.
I am very fond of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, whoever its medieval author may have been, as well as The Epic of Gilgamesh.
Q: What book/s are you reading at present?
I am reading The Elephant Keeper’s Children, by Peter Hoeg.
Q: Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I do proofread all of them myself. Getting someone else to help is great, which I have done with books I have published in the small press. A good editor is worth twice their weight in salt!
Q: Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Sometimes I will let the book stew mid-writing. But once I finish it I tend to try to edit it quickly.
Q: Tell us about the covers of your books. How did it/they come about?
I am very fortunate to work with Barbara Sobczyńska, who I met through the web site Deviant Art. She is a very talented artist living in Krakow.
Q: Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Absolutely. We all judge books by their covers!
Q: How do you market your books, if you do the marketing yourself?
Sites/ companies I have found helpful:
Publishers Weekly, LibraryThing, Foreword Reviews, Goodreads, as well as our old friend Google, for hunting down reviewers.
Q: Would you or do you use a PR agency?
I would if I could afford it!
Q: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Never tell a reviewer to kill themselves, even if they deserve it! J
Q: What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
Very little! Submitting already takes a fair amount of time.
Q: How successful has your quest for reviews been so far?
Some reviews I’ve enjoyed of my writing (both good and bad):
https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1093357914?book_show_action=true (best negative review ever!)
Q: What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
Try to ignore both!
Q: Do you think that giving books away free works and why?
Yes, especially when you’re an unknown. People don’t often buy books by people they’ve never heard of, and if you have no reviews on the web.
Q: How do you relax?
Hiking. And sleeping!
Q: What is your favorite motivational phrase? What is your favorite positive saying?
I like the quote often attributed to Goethe, though I it might not be his words:
“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.”
Q: What is your favorite book and why?
The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe (a series of 5 books)
In addition to describing a beautiful near-apocalypse landscape (the sun is dying), these books pose powerful moral questions about the nature of violence and our understanding of heroism in relation to violence.
Q: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Q: Where do you see publishing going in the future?
Lots of it will become stupider and more garish.
At the same time, I believe an opposing movement will gain steam, of intelligent books for intelligent people, with improved distribution.
Q: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Robin-Wyatt-Dunn/e/B006RL8CPG
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Born sometime in the past century, living in the 21st century.
Sometimes I have good ideas... (what do you think?)
Sometimes fascinating guests!
(that for sure!)
Sometimes I have to share some of my frustrations,..
(not too tempting, huh!)
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