Rachel Thompson

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

David Litwack Says "Writers are Star Stuff" @DavidLitwack #Fiction #Fantasy #TBR

Image of David Litwack

What’s the reason for your life? Have you figured out your reason for being here yet?
There’s a quote I’m using at the start of my fourth novel. It’s from the TV Sci-fi series, Babylon 5, spoken by Delenn to the ship commander: ““Then I will tell you a great secret, Captain, perhaps the greatest of all time. The molecules of your body are the same molecules that make up this station, and the nebula outside—that burn inside the stars themselves. We are star stuff. We are the Universe made manifest, trying to figure itself out.”
I don’t know much, but I believe that writers write because they’re star stuff, the universe trying to figure itself out.
How do you feel about self-publishing?
There’s no question that historically, major publishers have produced some bad books and some great books have languished on the slush pile. Today, those forgotten books have a path to publication, whether it’s Indie or self-publishing. But there a problem—now the whole slush pile is being published. I’d hope author’s would police themselves better, take the time to do those extra rewrites and edits. But while the gatekeepers of the old order were imperfect, they still served a purpose. Today we need new gatekeepers, a way to let readers distinguish between the wheat and the chaff. This will likely take years to sort itself out. Book bloggers may be a big part of the solution.
Do you know your neighbors?
Where we live now, absolutely. Growing up in the city, not so much.
When you get free time on the internet or you go to the library – what do you want to read about?
A lot of my internet or “library” time is spent on research for my books. But oftentimes, I’ll get lost following links to related information, which can stimulate new ideas. If I just want to browse as a way of relaxing, I usually check out sports. I’m a big Red Sox and Patriots fan.
Do you find the time to read?
Besides loving to read, I don’t know how you can be a writer without reading a lot. I always have a book on the Kindle app on my smart phone and I’ll break it out while waiting for a doctor’s appointment or anytime I have a few minutes to spare. I’m not quite as dedicated as Stephen King, who I’ve seen on TV at Fenway Park, reading between pitches at a Red Sox game.
Last book you purchased? Tell us about it.
The Blind Assassin. I have a love/hate relationship with Margaret Atwood. I love her writing and learn so much from it. But she can be a bit preachy and occasionally insert herself too much into the story.
What is your least favorite quality about yourself?
I wish I had the energy to write twice as much a day.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
Albert Einstein: “Reality is an illusion, albeit a persistent one.” In a way, this is the justification for fiction.
What are you most proud of accomplishing so far in your life?
I founded two successful software companies and raised two sons. I’ve hopefully been a good husband, father and friend. But going back to writing at a time in my life when I could have just relaxed and played golf-- and then publishing two, soon to be three novels—that’s something I never expected to be able to do.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
The urge to write first struck me when I was sixteen working on a newsletter at a youth encampment in the woods of northern Maine. It may have been the wild night when lightning flashed at sunset followed by the northern lights—the only time I’ve ever seen them. Or maybe it was the newsletter’s editor, a girl with eyes the color of the ocean, who encouraged me to write an article each night for the next day’s issue. In any case, I was hooked.
What was the hardest part about writing Along the Watchtower?
I struggled to find the balance between Freddie’s waking world and the fantasy world of his dreams. Ultimately, this is a real world, wounded warrior’s story. The fantasy world is an alter consciousness, a place where Freddie can go to confront the demons he’s unable to face in reality. I was always tempted when in Azeroth to write a classic fantasy. But there’s no classic ending that’s appropriate to Freddie’s story. His war trauma never ends. His triumph is finding a way to accept what happened and move on with his life.
How long have you been writing?
Seven years and all my adult life, with lots of time off in between.
Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
I had a great playwriting professor in College, John Matthews. He was the first one to emphasize that writing was more craft than art. He beat into me that drama is conflict with something at stake, the bigger the stakes, the higher the drama.
Who designed the cover?
My publisher designed the cover for There Comes a prophet based on my suggestion. The scene between Nathaniel and Orah in the observatory has always been one of my favorites, the moment when they make their fateful decision. It also seemed like the most visual.
I worked with a wonderful artist for Along the Watchtower (Ida Jansen of AmygdalaDesign - http://www.amygdaladesign.net/). I wanted a split cover that reflected Freddie’s dual worlds. The artists came up with the surreal castle right away. It took a few iterations to get the wounded warrior just right. We finally ended up with the rumpled fatigues, with the medals and a crutch under one arm but with no face showing.
Who is your publisher?
Double Dragon Publishing.
What genre are you most comfortable writing?
I write speculative fiction, which gives me a lot of leeway in terms of genre. Why speculative fiction?
I’ve always been suspicious about reality. Is what we believe merely a reflection of how we’ve been raised and what we’ve been taught? Anyone who has traveled knows other cultures see the world differently. And anyone who has spent extended time in a hospital or war zone has learned the hard way that one’s sense of reality can be easily fragmented. We conveniently construct a world view that suits us—at least until something challenges it.
Our sense of reality in many ways defines how we live, but it’s constantly evolving. That’s the writer’s job—to challenge our view of reality and enable the potential for change. I try to invent new worlds and show how characters cope within them. By telling what they saw and how they felt, I hope to change the readers perception of reality and therefore how they perceive themselves. Ultimately, that has the potential to change how we behave.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I believe the purpose of a novel is to tell the character’s story, not deliver a message. If anything, my job is to raise questions, not to answer them. However, I hope Along the Watchtower will help highlight a very real problem in our society—the plight of veterans recovering from both the physical and mental trauma of war.

WINNER: Readers' Favorite Book 2013 Bronze Award Winner, Drama Category -Fiction
A Tragic Warrior Lost in Two Worlds...
The war in Iraq ended for Lieutenant Freddie Williams when an IED explosion left his mind and body shattered. Once he was a skilled gamer and expert in virtual warfare. Now he's a broken warrior, emerging from a medically induced coma to discover he's inhabiting two separate realities. The first is his waking world of pain, family trials, and remorse--and slow rehabilitation through the tender care of Becky, his physical therapist. The second is a dark fantasy realm of quests, demons, and magic that Freddie enters when he sleeps.
In his dreams he is Frederick, Prince of Stormwind, who must make sense of his horrific visions in order to save his embattled kingdom from the monstrous Horde. His only solace awaits him in the royal gardens, where the gentle words of the beautiful gardener, Rebecca, calm the storms in his soul. While in the conscious world, the severely wounded vet faces a strangely similar and equally perilous mission--a journey along a dark road haunted by demons of guilt and memory--and letting patient, loving Becky into his damaged and shuttered heart may be his only way back from Hell.
Buy Now @ Amazon
Genre – Contemporary Fiction, Fantasy
Rating – PG
More details about the author
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