Saturday, 31 October 2015

Keith Deininger Interview

Keith Deininger writes some of the most wonderful imaginative and dark fiction I've read. He wrote Marrow's Pit, which, for me had shades of China Mieville, and Within, as sweet a story as any classic Barker tale. Keith's latest project is the Godgame Series...and I've got him here to talk about that, and what makes him. He's pretty cool, and it's a genuine pleasure to get to ask him a few questions on here.

Q: Hi Keith. That's not a question. This is - the Godgame series, four books in (if that's right!)...will there be more? Is this a long running project?

The Godgame series is one I’ve been trying to write for years. I’ve started books set in the world of Meridian before, but they never went anywhere. One of the first novels I wrote was a fantasy novel that I abandoned at 200k words or so. It was a muddled mess. I wasn’t ready to write it. I had to write a lot of other things before I could write these books, so to finally see them unleashed on the world is pretty amazing. I’ve come a long way. According to my notes, there should be 4 more books in this series, but other than a vague outline, I’m not sure exactly what’s going to happen. Don’t get me wrong, I do a lot of planning. It’s just that I always, no matter what, let my characters make their own decisions, so even I’m not sure what’s going to happen, but I can’t wait.

Q: Your fiction tends toward the fantastic and the dark you write other genres, or mix and match at all?

Ugh, genres… I wish I could write in a couple of nice, marketable genres. It’d be a lot easier to sell books, that’s for sure. I’m always playing around with attempting to write something more marketable, but my brain just doesn’t work that way. I write what I can write, and it’s some crazy shit. I try to be intuitive. I’m always sitting back, reading over what I’ve written, and thinking, “Damn, what the fuck is this shit?” Sorry, I have a dirty mouth. And now I have a baby daughter at home, so I guess I gotta clean that up. But, yeah, anyway, I like to call myself a “dark fantasy” writer. That’s a genre, right?

Q: Are there any particular writers you feel have influenced or inspired your writing?

Peter Straub has been a huge influence, for sure. And Clive Barker is one of my all time favourites. I’ve read everything Clive Barker has written. In college I read a lot of postmodernist stuff like Don DeLillo, Thomas Pynchon, and David Foster Wallace. I used to love Chuck Palahniuk, but I grew out of him. I used to read Dungeons and Dragons fantasy books in middle school and then a ton of Stephen King. I think it’s all had an influence on my own development. I know the Roald Dahl and C. S. Lewis I read when I was a kid has.

Q: How do you cope with four dogs? That seems like a lot. We've got two African snails and they're kind of a chore.

The wife and I have kind of a soft spot for animals. I used to have ferrets too. And I’ve gone through a bevy of guinea pigs. I’m a little awkward in social situations (I drink), and I’m more comfortable around animals than people, so I guess that’s why we have so many. Oh, and we have a cat too. He’s an ass.

Q: Do you have a routine, or something approaching a strenuous work schedule for your writing?

I get up early and write for an hour every morning. I go to the day job and I use my lunch hour to write on my laptop. And then, every Saturday and Sunday, I carve out a few solid hours to do the heavy creative stuff that takes a lot of concentration. I’ve also learned to snatch moments when I can. So far, I’ve been able to produce a consistent flow of work. I’m always going over things in my head and I take constant notes in notebooks, on my phone and computer, and on little scraps of paper at work. It’s a bit of an obsession really.

Q: Do you get out and about much, to signings, or conventions? If you do, do you have any you want to share so people can come and stalk you?

Well, no. I don’t get out much. I’ve done a couple of small signings and I’ve been to some cons, but not all that often. Without hopping on a plane, I don’t have many opportunities like that out where I live. The travel is too expensive. That, and I’m so focused on using my precious time to write. The next con I’m planning to do is Bubonicon here in Albuquerque next August. George R. R. Martin lives around here and goes every year, so maybe I’ll get a chance to shove a book in his hands and run away screaming, “You’re welcome.” Yeah, that’s going to work out for me.

Exhibit A: George R.R. Martin stalker-wannabe Keith Deininger.

Q: You live in New Mexico (I read your I'm tired from all the research that went into this interview), right? Is it better than Old Mexico? Do you think Mexico actually needed a reboot? I only ask because it segues nicely into the real question, which is: what's your feeling on all the reboots in film, in the horror genre in particular?

Here in the States, when I tell people who aren’t from this area that I’m from New Mexico they often think I’m actually from the country of Mexico. It happens way more often than it should. I’m also very pale and I get my nose from my French great grandmother, so I’m not sure what they’re thinking. That being said, I hate reboots. Especially with horror movies. Is there a single one you can think of that’s better than the original movie? The same goes for sequels and more superhero movies. Aren’t people tired of this shit by now? It’s the same thing over and over again. Where’s the original content, people? I think moviemakers need to read more. There are a lot of really excellent books that could be made into awesome movies, horror and otherwise.

Q: Anything in particular you're passionate about other than making up stories?

Besides reading and writing, I really like games. I don’t play a lot of them these days, but I’d love to design a couple eventually. I also like to cook, believe it or not, and the wife leaves dinner up to me in the evenings. I love movies too, and actually hold a minor in film theory, but I can be very critical. I’m kind of an ass that way.

Q: What's best for you - the awards you've won, the sales of your books, or to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentation of their women?

Oh, I love to crush my enemies. I once told my arch nemesis in college that when I was big and successful I’d dedicate my first book to him as a proverbial slap to the face, but then I didn’t. Come to think of it, I still need to do that with one of my books. Problem is, I can’t remember why I hated him so much anymore. Damn, I have to work on that.

Q: Is writing a novel a long process for you, or do you just sit down and get on with it?

I’m a slow writer because I often comb through what I’ve written so far and edit and tweak before moving on to the next chapter. I also take a lot of notes on characters and tangents that don’t end up being used in the actual manuscript, so it’s kind of a process for me. I have to “feel” a chapter is good before I move on to the next one.

Q: Are you reading anything at the moment?

I just started Paul Tremblay’s A Head Full of Ghosts, so we’ll see how that goes. I read Philip K. Dick’s Ubik recently. I’m not a big fan of PKD’s work because his characters are all so one-dimensional, but I still appreciate it. I also started re-reading Clive Barker’s Imajica once again because I love it so much.  So much.

Q: Anywhere people can find out more?

I have a website, I’m on social media and I’m told I’m a nice guy.

Q: What's the latest, too? Anything you want to pimp? You might as well while you're here - seems rude not to...

The first two books and the novella prologue to the Godgame series have just come out. I’m very proud of these books the reviews have been very good so far.

Q: What's your latest project/next project? If you want to talk about it!

There are several projects I’d like to tackle, including an idea I can’t get out of my head about a drunken warrior-poet wandering around at the end of the world, but for now I’ll be working on the Godgame books. I’m finally writing Marrow’s story in the book I’m working on now, which is something I’ve been building up to for a long time.

Q: And, penultimate question - do you have any plans for the future...not just your stories and series, but for you, as a writer? Where would you like to go with your writing?

I would like, eventually, after I’ve built up enough consistent sales to feel comfortable writing fulltime, write some epic literary works. I’d like to try my hand at something big and obsessive like Danielewski’s House of Leaves. But, for now, I’m content doing what I’m doing.

Q: Last question! When are you coming to the UK? I owe you a beer.

I’d love to make it out there. And it just so happens I love beer too. Someday. It’ll happen someday.

And that was Keith Deininger. He's one of the best I've read, without doubt. Inventive and imaginative fiction - horror/steampunk, dark fantasy, or just plain fiction, whatever the genre. If you haven't read anything by Keith, he's well worth a go and I'm a fan.

Thank you, Keith, for being on, and thank you, reader.

Love you, same as it ever was. x