INTERVIEW WITH DANIEL G. KEOHANE (PART 2)
LL SOARES: Okay, we just discussed your novel SOLOMON’S GRAVE, but that wasn’t your first published book. That would be your short story collection, CHRISTMAS TREES AND MONKEYS. That’s a pretty unusual title for a collection of horror stories. Can you tell us something about that book?
DAN KEOHANE: Well, back in 2002, I’d started to gain some success with my short stories, having done well enough to gain active status in the HWA and SFWA, and building up enough of an inventory of published pieces to consider putting a collection together. Two problems got in my way – the market for collections from relative unknowns was pretty bleak, and I’m a terrible procrastinator. My sister Anne had been diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, and I decided that putting a collection together might be a good way to raise money for the MS Society, so I made the decision – right or wrong – to self-publish the book. I really only had two goals for myself: put my early works together into some permanent form for posterity, and raise some money. The critical acclaim it received was a nice touch, and just added to the enjoyment of the process. To me, one of the best aspects of the collection are the introductions I wrote before each story, discussing their origins. Still makes me laugh – yea, I’m my best audience.
LS: What is your writing routine like?
DK: With three kids between the ages of 12 and 17, weekends are never my own. But if I’m being good, I write every day at lunch (still have that day job). I take my laptop and head to the cafeteria (or stop in at a bookstore), and spend an hour writing. I can usually get through 1500 words of a first draft with every sitting. The trick is to open the file and get writing. I never look back, meaning I write the first draft all the way through, and only then go back and revise. And revise. And revise. Most stories, and novels, go through at least six revisions before anyone sees anything – and someone always does. Proofreaders are a writer’s friend, and if you think you can send something out to an editor without having someone you trust read through it first, to tell you where you fell down and went boom (hey, I told you I have three kids), then you’re in for a rude awakening. Just make sure it looks perfect before you let anyone read it (trust me, it won’t be perfect, but at least you gave it your best shot). Anyway, for novels, I used to write like mad, and outline as I go, but I found that I’d get stuck a lot. The last two novels I outlined first – really nothing fancy, just free form writing, “this happens then this happens then…” I find I always have something to write when I sit down. I change the outline often, never letting it restrict what happens as I write, but at least it gives me a general road map. The surprises in writing, when characters “don’t do what I expect” is still a joy and I’d never let that be compromised. Easy enough to change an outline, after all.
LS: Give us the lowdown on what to expect for the future from you.
DK: A nervous breakdown, most likely. But if that doesn’t happen, the book I wrote after SOLOMON’S GRAVE, called PLAGUE OF DARKNESS, is coming out in Germany this fall from Otherworld Verlag. Hopefully it’ll sell here in the US soon, along with my other novel MARGARET’S ARK (the modern Great Flood thing mentioned above), and the one I’m working on now, a science fiction novel called PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS (have you noticed a theme in my long-form writing?)
As far as short stories, three bits: my story “Box” has just been released in the anthology COACH’S MIDNIGHT DINER: BACK FROM THE DEAD EDITION; “Living by the Highway” is appearing any day now in the next Cemetery Dance Magazine, and “Family at Dinner” in issue #6 of Shroud Magazine (in which you also have a story appearing, right LL?).
LS: Yeah, it’s always cool to share a magazine with you.
Okay, so if you could have any superpower, which one would you choose and why?
DK: When I was a kid, I always wanted to be able to stretch like Mister Fantastic (and not just for the obvious male-centric reasons). I’d love to fly, but every time I flew in my dreams I’d end up getting too high and freak out, or I’d crash into a house. Naw, stretchy is the way to go.
LS: You’ve touched on this a bit already, but do you notice any recurring themes in your writing?
DK: For my short stories, no. I tend to write straight-forward horror, with some delving into the surreal now and then. For my novels, just look at those titles above. I definitely seem to enjoy mixing religion and horror. Of course, talk about limiting your marketing niche. Still, not a lot of competition, I suppose.
LS: One final question. Do you think Smurfette is sexy?
DK: The only thing that I find LESS sexy than the Smurfs is the inside of a green pepper.
LS: Well, I for one find the inside of a green pepper to be rather pleasant.
As we wrap this up, do you have any links you’d like to share with the readers?
DK: Sure. First of all, there’s my Web site: www.dankeohane.com
and then there are the links to the books:
TO ORDER SOLOMON’S GRAVE
TO ORDER CHRISTMAS TREES AND MONKEYS
LS: Well, thank you very much, Mr. Keohane. And I wish you much success