Thursday, September 3, 2009
13 Questions with MyMiserys: Robert Dunbar
Interview conducted by MyMiserys
1) How old were you when you wrote what you consider your first story?
It seems I started writing from the moment I could hold a pen. I remember – in about third grade – laboring away at an epic entitle “The Fear.” (If I recall correctly, it concerned a lycanthropic robot in the Andes. Must see about those film rights.) Of course, the fact that so peculiar an activity outraged my parents only made it that much more delicious. Peculiar? Poor dears had no idea what was coming down the pike. I’ve always been grateful for art, sex and drugs. They were my salvation.
2) What inspired you to write it?
Misery. Any writer who gives you a different answer is lying. Any real one anyway. Show me a happy writer and I’ll show you somebody grinding out drivel. That’s where it starts at least. Later, if you’re lucky, it evolves. Or at least mutates.
3) What was the first book you wrote?
THE PINES – though sometimes I think that book wrote me.
4) Of all the books you've written, which is your favorite?
Always the new one. WILLY is the journal of a disturbed adolescent in a school for boys with emotional problems. Naturally, the diarist proves not to be the most reliable of narrators, barely comprehending the events he relates, and most of the plot elements seep out between the lines. Everything had to be told from his point of view, in his voice. Plus, of course, I had to inhabit his skin, feel his feelings. Writing it just about killed me, so I’m intensely invested.
5) Which book would you like to forget you wrote?
Old novels are like old lovers. You may not be in love with them anymore, but that doesn’t mean you regret them. How could you? For a time, they were a part of you.
6) Who is the most influential person in your life?
Tough call. It’s either Oliver Wendell Holmes or Harpo Marx.
7) Who is your favorite author?
Marcel Proust. No, wait, William Faulkner. That’s it. Or Huysmans … uh … Henry Roth, I mean. Sometimes. James Joyce possibly. No – Virginia Woolf. Yes. Absolutely. Or maybe Henry James. Samuel R. Delany? Meyrink? Or Burroughs? Conrad? James Baldwin? Waugh? Maugham? Tell you what – let me think about it some more and get back to you.
8) If you could only own one book, what would it be?
THE STAND – that’s the only way I’ll ever finish it.
9) When and where do you write?
Oh, you know, only on the yacht, during alternate solstices. Come on. Who am I, Sebastian Venable? I write everyplace, all the time. Even when I’m not writing, I’m writing.
10) Do you have a "day job?"
Not now. I mean, I’ve worked for newspapers and magazines, written for radio and television. Then it occurred to me that, if I really intended to accomplish something with my fiction, I should probably consider focusing.
11) Do you have a "dream job?"
I’m doing it. (Of course, a “dream paycheck” would be nice.) And every now and then I fantasize about opening a small publishing company. For years I’ve been ranting about how quality would sell if quality were made available, how somebody needs to invest in developing an intelligent, sophisticated readership for dark fiction …
12) If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
My office overlooks the ruins of an 18th Century mill. It’s all so sever and beautiful, and periodically the whole world disappears in floodwaters and mudslides – such a perfect metaphor for my creative process that I can’t imagine being anywhere else right now. But maybe Paris would be nice.
13) What is your guilty pleasure?
Today, you mean? It varies … though I suppose there are constants. A Jeeves novel. Any Thelma Ritter movie. Saki stories. Perry Blake’s music. Absinth. Rampant paranoia (which is not the name of a band). Why? What have you heard?
Visit Robert Dunbar's website
--Kimberly Cook aka MyMiserys
(The Black Glove wants to thank Robert Dunbar for his time)