And for my second “victim” we have the very prolific Doug Dandridge! Author of many Sci-Fi novels available through both Amazon and Smashwords! Without further ado please join me in for a Q & A with Mr. Dandridge!
What would your bio say?
That I have a lot of education and a military background. I was a soldier in the Army, two levels of ROTC (high school and college), was in the National Guard, and worked as a therapist and psychometrist in mental health. And that I have written a lot of manuscripts. That I have had a lot of jobs, and that my work has been read by both a Hugo award winner and a bestselling fantasy author, both of whom thought I had the talent to make it in the business. And that I have made more than my share of mistakes during my life. All of which can help me as a writer, giving me a variety of viewpoints on life, from scientist to unemployed husband.
When did you start writing and why?
Of course I had written papers for school, including a thesis and part of a dissertation. But when I had gotten into trouble at Alabama and lost my therapist job at the local mental health center I was very angry at what I saw as the injustice of my sentence. So I set out to write an expose’ of academia and psychology in particular. It took two weeks to put down eighty thousand words, working full time with a pissed off attitude. I almost sold that book, but now have no desire to visit that time again. But it proved that I could plan and write a book, so I started on my next piece, a ninety thousand word alternate history about a World War Two in which the Kaiser’s Germany took on the world. It was very well researched and tightly plotted, but also very poorly written. The dialogue in particular was painful to read, but I sent it off expecting a hundred thousand dollar check in the mail. The rejection came a year later, and since then I had moved on. Next up was a two hundred and sixty thousand word epic fantasy that was just too long and had too many characters. I liked the idea though, and it is the basis of the Refuge series I put out in the Spring of this year. I got scammed by an agent on that one, and didn’t submit to an agency again until 2010. I thought I could do it, that I could write novels that people would want to read. So when the opportunity presented itself I jumped in with wide eyes and mistaken beliefs.
If you are a parent how does being a parent affect your writing and writing habits? Or does it?
When I was married and had a stepdaughter to care for it was a balancing act. Somehow I still found the time to work at it and produce. Sometimes I would devote a Saturday while the wife was at work and the stepdaughter was with friends to get out ten thousand words or so. Now I am divorced and the stepdaughter is grown and in college, and I have no one to get in the way of my writing. I was looking for someone for some years after the divorce, but it always turned out to be the wrong someone, so now I’m not even looking. If someone comes along, great. If not, I have all that time to myself after work to do what I want to do.
Who is your favorite author and why?
That is really a difficult question to answer, I have so many of them. David Weber, Michael Moorcock, Robert E Howard and Robert Heinlein. I would have to say that in science fiction it is Larry Niven. Niven is not the greatest in character development, but his ideas and settings are mind boggling. And in Fantasy it would have to be R. A. Salvatore, and his Dritzz Do-Urden books. He is wonderful in his character development, and I can’t wait to get the next book when it comes out.
What do you hope to accomplish with your writing?
I want to win a Hugo and possibly a World Fantasy Award. Those are the dreams, though the accomplishment is looking less and less likely to occur. I think I have written some very unusual and imaginative books, but so have so many other much better known authors. Right now I would like to make a living at it and do nothing professional other than researching, plotting and writing. That is the true dream, to become a working professional in the field. Again that is becoming much more difficult in these times. I may have to settle for just writing for the rest of my life and putting it out there for people to read. And that in itself would be satisfying. I remember watching Our Man Flint with James Coburn as a child. There are shelves of books in a room, and someone asks Flint if he has read all those books. He says, “no, I wrote them.” That would be a cool place to be.
Traditional or Self publishing? Why?
For years I tried the traditional publishing route, dreaming of that big contract and getting a membership into the SFFWA and rubbing elbows with Niven, Pournell and the rest. I kept sending to the publishers that would accept my unsolicited work and would get the rejection letters, some good, some form, but still rejections. Then I started to try agents with the same result. Some either read what I sent them, liked it, but didn’t think it would make them a bunch of money, or they didn’t even look and sent the old form rejection about that careful consideration nonsense. So I decided to try self-publishing. Haven’t made a bunch of money yet, but I’m having much more fun. Earlier this year I had sent submissions to ten agents on my novel Daemon and thought, after I had sent them off, “why am I doing this.” Writing queries to people I don’t know while trying to make them think they are wonderful, the only person I want representing me. Which was pure bullshit. Someday I may start sending out letters again, but for right now I will keep putting them on Amazon.
Talk about your journey into the wide world of publishing.
Well, as said before, I sent out some work expecting to get a big check in the mail. Then came the agent scam that cost me three hundred dollars, and I guess I got off cheap at that. I kept writing them and sending them out. Not continuously. Some years I wrote two or three novels, some years none. I was wondering if I would ever get anything published when I met two successful writers online. One, Charles Sheffield, had won a Hugo for a short story, and his ex-girlfriend, who was marrying a friend of mine, introduced us through email. He read some of my work, made suggestions, and told me to keep at it and I would make it. Then I met Holly Lisle online in a chat room and later became a moderator at her Forward Motion site. She read my first chapter of a fantasy and said the same thing as Charles. The opinions of those two gave me the motivation to put up with hundreds of rejection letters. So I kept writing, sometimes two books at a time. I would try something different with each book, hoping to his the right thing to get that big contract. I love science fiction, fantasy and horror, so it was easy to stay passionate about each and every project. And over the years I built up quite a backlog of novels. Then I decided to self-publish and I had all these books to choose from. A friend in the music business suggested putting out as many as I could as soon as possible to get a list that would attract readers. Not sure how well that has worked out yet, because I have so many different books out there. You can’t pick up one and say it will be like another. Until the series come out, which is what I am working on now, no more skipping around to see what might get that contract. I told someone at work the other day that I had put out ten books so far this year, and had two more coming out in the Fall. They said maybe I should write slower, and not try to put out as much. And I told this them was the result of over a decade of writing.
Tell us about your book (s)
I will concentrate on one for this question, because I would be writing till next week if I tried to do all of them. I wrote The Deep Dark Well in 2004, after getting divorced from a woman I really thought I would spend my life with. She was from Alabama. I had also read about a publisher that was interested in strong female characters, so I decided on a female character from Alabama. Research into black holes and wormholes developed the setting, and I planned it out on 3X5 cards and started writing. In the book a Kuiper Belt miner (my main character) and her crew finds a ship that has come back through time, traveling in a backward temporal dimension one day at a time until it shows up on the edge of our system. She goes aboard and the space around the ship starts to pulsate and destroy both vessels. So she jumps through a wormhole gate in the center of the ship to an enormous (as in billions of cubic kilometers) space station in orbit around a black hole, forty thousand years in the future. The station is deserted except for a superbeing called Watcher, an immortal from the time of the Galactic civilization that built the station. Fear and loneliness throw Pandora Latham and Watcher together. But there is a dark secret to Watcher, and Pandi has to discover what he had to do with the fall of civilization. And all the while outsiders are trying to get on the station and steal its advanced tech so they can use it to further their own schemes of Galactic conquest. Have to read the book to find out more. It will be featured as a free eBook on KDP Select from 09/07 to 09/11.
What inspired you to write these books (or in this genre)?
I have always loved the literature of the fantastic. I was reading the Fantastic Four and Spider-man from an early age, and started reading Heinlein when I was six. Then it was on to Asimov, Moorcock, Leinster, Howard, all the greats. I still read them, and the newcomers like Weber and Taylor. I could not imagine writing anything else. I may try historical fiction or a technothriller someday if I ever get the right idea. But the fantastic is what I love. And I really like to steal ideas that are not really done that well and do another take on them that I think is a more intelligent approach. I like to use real physics in scifi when I can, and real world military principles in my fantasy. Don’t know how that will work out in the long run, but I enjoy making up those stories and making them work.
Tell us why we should love or hate your main character?
In The Deep Dark Well I think I have a fantastic main character. Pandora Latham is an Alabama country girl with a domineering minister father who escapes to space. She does a workaday job as a Kuiper Belt Miner, harvesting comets for terraforming, but really wants to become an explorer. She is intelligent and decisive, though she can leap before she looks. She is also a woman who does not want to be without a man, thought she restricts herself to one man at a time. She is thrust into a period that is beyond her time and imagination and lands on her feet. I tried to make her feminine and heroic at the same time. She is no shrinking violet, but a fighter. I have already started on a sequel in which she develops more of her warrior character and is augmented by nanotech to give her abilities beyond our dreams. But she will always be human, compassionate of others, ready to jump in on the side of the oppressed, no matter the cost to herself.
Do(es) your book(s) have a soundtrack?
Not really, though all of them have music tracks on the trailers I have made. All can be found on Youtube under either Doug Dandridge or BrotherofCats.
Links to where his book(s) are sold: