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Saturday, 16 October 2010

Interview with Author David Perlmutter.

David Perlmutter is a freelance writer living in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where he has lived his whole life. His passions are American television animation (the subject of his MA thesis and a projected historical monograph), literature (especially science fiction and fantasy) and music (rhythm& blues, soul, funk and jazz.) This explains why much of his writing is as nonconventional and defiant as it is. He is challenged with Asperger’s Syndrome, but considers it an asset more than a disability.

Tell us about your current book in a few sentences.

My current book is called "The Pups", and it will be released by the Library of the Living Dead through its Library of Science Fiction Press imprint in either the fall of this year or the winter of the next. It is a science fiction story where dogs have become a humanized racial minority and are persecuted for being this. In this context, I write through the voices of six uniquely gifted canine individuals as they explain their backgrounds and early lives and how they came to team up together as a combination superhero team and comedy troupe, which is not as weird an idea as you might think.

What qualities do you need to be a successful writer?

You need to be good at coming up with ideas. This will allow you to easily contribute to a wider variety of markets than you would otherwise. The best thing to do is to try and spread yourself over a variety of different genres so you become skilled at writing in more than one environment or more than one standard scenario. This is important in writing both short stories and novels, as it will convince readers that you can be and are capable of writing many different things.
Also, you need to have a good understanding of financial issues related to writing. If you don't have a good business sense as a writer, you'll be lost.

What is your working method?

Typically, I will think of ideas quickly, but preferably I will allow them to gestate over a long period. I will write a first draft in longhand if I have time, then type it up on the computer, then show it to others for feedback. Then and only then will I send it out.

What is the single biggest mistake made by beginners to writing?

That they think they can crack the biggest markets on their first go-round. Sometimes it happens, but it's rare, and most of us are still waiting for that kind of break.

How did you come to write this particular book?

Originally, I wanted to be a television animation producer, and my earliest efforts at writing reflected this ambition. These characters were developed first as one of these projects. As I developed and honed my skills as a writer, I constructed a more realistic narrative situation for the characters to exist, in an effort to gain published, and let it go from there. Because it's a novella, I found it hard getting the right market for it before I found people interested in publishing it.

If you have a favorite character in your novel, why that particular one?

The favorites in this one are my six leads. Each of them represents a different aspect of my personality and ideals, and so they're close to me because of that.

How can people buy your book?

The book will available in both print and online format from the Library of the Living Dead. It will also likely be available at bookstores that carry the Library's products.

To what extent are grammar and spelling important to a writer?

Very important! You should not attempt a writing career without mastering them.

How much revision of your MS do you do before you send it off?

As much as I or other readers of it feel needs to be done.

Where and when is your novel set and why did you make those specific choices?

The novel is set in North America three centuries from now. I did this because it is much easier to write in a future time since nothing has happened yet and you are free to shape the destiny of the world in any way you want in those fictional contexts. The past and present seem limiting in comparison.

To what extent do you think genre is useful in the publishing world?

Genre helps set certain types of writing apart from others. A science fiction novel will be written and conceived in a manner that a mainstream novel will not be, yet both serve, in different ways, to outline their particular author's view of the world. Even if certain genres are set off in "ghettoes", they are still identifiable on their own terms in the public's mind. And if an author can prove themself able of writing in more than one genre, or an editor the ability to compile material from more than one, it highlights how they stand above the crowd.

What are your writing habits?

I don't write on a regular basis. I need to be in the right mood in order to write, and that's not always there. But when it is, I am extremely and quickly productive.

How do you know where to begin any given story?

Every story begins on its own terms. A character, a scene or a line of dialogue will occur to me, and I will try to build a narrative around them. In my case, it will often begin often by reading the works of others and trying to reinterpet them in a new context where I think the basic idea and premise would also work. I also observe the daily news and look for ideas there that might suggest adaptation as prose. One of my biggest sources has been watching television, especially television animation. Often, I see non-speaking background characters, who have no voices or names, and I think maybe I should be responsible for giving them a voice and a name. And I try to do just that.

What sort of displacement activities keep you from actually writing?

Same as other writers. Reading, watching TV, using the computer. But I try to keep my mind open even there in case potential ideas are there.

Do you have support, either from family or friends or a writing group?

You bet I do! I couldn't keep going on like this if I didn't.

Is presentation of the MS as important as most agents and publishers suggest?

It should be. You need to put as much into the presentation of the MS as you would in promoting yourself as a person.

How long does it normally take you to write a novel?

I am not really a "novel" writer. Ray Bradbury once described himself as a sprinter rather than a marathon runner when it came to writing, and I seem to be the same in my approach. This may be because the shorter a work is, the less preparation time it needs.
Be that as it may, I am trying to get into writing longer works, which "The Pups" was the first attempt at. It took me about three months to write. On the other hand, for nearly seven years, I have been planning to write an epic-scale novel called Orthicon, and, though I have plotted and planned it thoroughly over that time, I have yet to find the courage to write a complete draft.

What are your inspirations?

In the media: American television animation in all types and eras, Mel Brooks, and Monty Python. In print: Jack London, Robert Bloch, Isaac Asimov, Frederik Pohl, L. Sprague De Camp, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, Victor Hugo, and Philip Jose Farmer, among many others.

If there's a single aspect to writing that really frustrates you, what is it?

Getting rejected! Especially when you put so much effort into writing a piece, like I do.

Do you think writing is a natural gift or an acquired skill?

Both. You can be skilled at making up stories, but you need to learn how to write the way the market demands through experience.

What are you writing now?

I mentioned the novel Orthicon in Chapter 17. I intend to finish that thing if it kills me some time this year or next. I am also preparing one of my novellas to be included in a themed anthology from Wicked East Press in the new year. On the non-fiction front, I am looking for a publisher to take my sweeping historical study of American television animation (an expansion of my recently earned MA thesis), give me a big advance, and let me write in peace and comfort.
Also, I continue looking at Duotrope and Ralan and sending in stories for all the anthologies there that will have me.

Is there any aspect of writing you really enjoy?

I enjoy every aspect of it.

Do you have a website or blog that readers can visit?

Unfortunately, no. I am all thumbs when it comes to the Web.

Given unlimited resources, what would be your ideal writing environment?

A rambling old house with a well-stocked library and no one to annoy me. Barring that, a park, preferably one next to a river, lake or waterfall.

Where do you actually write?

On the computer, I write at home. In longhand in my notebooks, I write anywhere I can.

Short Stories
“The Witch Of The School”. Published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, April 2010.
 (Living Dead Press, 2009.) Accepted into Anthologybuilder database, June 2010.
“All I Owe You Is A Good Story”. Published at Lame Goat Zine, Issue 1, posted December 25, 2009.
“Press”. Published at Vast Posted January 31, 2010.
“Partners In…Something”. Published at, February 18, 2010.
“Censored”. Published in Deep Space Terror, ed. By Chris Bartholomew (Static Movement, 2010.)
“The Devil And Summer Schwartz”. Published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Summer 2010.
“Pandemic”. Published in Inner Fears, ed. By William Wolford (Static Movement, 2010.)
“Tzedakah”. Published in Diamonds In The Rough, ed. By Chris Bartholomew (Lame Goat Press, 2010.)
“Just A Little Miss-Understanding”. To be published in Vampology (Library Of Horror Press, 2010.)
“Vengeance”. Published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, Summer 2010.
“The Dispute”. Published at, May 2010.
“Bloch’s Parent”. Published in Dark Valentine #2, ed. By Katherine Tomlinson. (Summer 2010).
“’Toons Bite Men”. To be published in Daily Flash, ed. By Jessy Marie Roberts. Pill Hill Press, Oct 2010.
“Murder’s Not Cool”. Published as an ebook by Untreed Reads Publishing, August 2010.
“Got A Match?” To be published in Ethereal Tales, October 2010.
“Cut And Run”. To be published in Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine, October 2010.
“Black Magic”. To be published at Dark Valentine, October 2010.
“Challenges”. To be published in Peace On Earth, ed. By Jean Goldstrom (Whortleberry Press, 2010.)

Novels, Novellas and Stand Alone Stories
The Pups. To be published by Library of Science Fiction Press, Fall 2010.
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